Medical Justice
Harmed Not Heard

Immigration detention can cause serious harm to people who are detained. This is recognised by research, clinical professional bodies and government policy. Medical Justice has many years of witnessing the human cost of detention through working with detained people. This report examines the extent to which safeguarding mechanisms are effective within Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs): whether they operate as intended to ensure the identification and release of people at risk of harm. It concludes that there are serious defects.

Independent medico-legal assessments of forty five Medical Justice clients conducted whilst the person was detained between July and December 2021 found that all were at risk of clinical harm due to detention. These clients had numerous indicators of vulnerability: including histories of severe trauma, significant mental health issues, at risk of suicide and with evidence of deterioration in their mental state that had been caused by detention. However, safeguarding systems led to only one person being released from detention due to being recognised as at risk. This research set out to understand why safeguarding systems had not been effective to ensure the release of a case set of such vulnerable people before the involvement of an independent clinician from Medical Justice, a small, over-stretched charity with a long waiting list. There were failures at all levels of the safeguarding process.