Morton Hall: ‘The devastating impact of indefinite detention can no longer be denied’

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Today, HM Inspectorate of Prisons has released a report following an unannounced inspection of Morton Hall IRC. The report found a significant decline in safety and details a vulnerability crisis among those detained at the centre.

The inspection, carried out in the detention centre in November, found that levels of violence and antisocial behaviour had risen overall. The report found incidents of self-harm among detainees had increased almost threefold, from 30-83 in the six months before the inspection, with the number of individuals involved up from 19 to 53.

Responding to a survey by HMIP, 38% of people detained at Morton Hall said that they felt unsafe in the centre. The report found that a further 49% said they had problems with feeling depressed or suicidal on arrival. Since the unannounced inspection, one man committed suicide and another man died. The report found that too many people were detained for long periods of time, with the average length of detention over three months. 

Currently holding 392 men, Morton Hall in Lincolnshire was previously a women’s prison, and the report highlighted the ‘great deal of razor wire’ that surrounds the centre. The inspection report links ‘poor physical conditions’ to ‘the very high levels of frustration’ felt by those facing indefinite detention without a ‘clear pathway towards release’.

This latest report follows another into conditions at Brook House and last week’s Westminster Hall debate on vulnerability in detention. It is further evidence of the shortcomings of the Government’s Adults at Risk policy. In our evidence to the debate, we highlighted that we had not seen significant shift away from the detention of vulnerable people since the Government introduced the policy and that we continue to hear from vulnerable people in detention on a daily basis.

The pressure is mounting on the Government to enact the Shaw review recommendations and to uphold its commitment to Parliament to ‘safeguard the most vulnerable’, with a ‘clear presumption that people who are at risk should not be detained’. This latest inspection report is further evidence of the distress experienced by migrants in detention. The devastating impact of indefinite detention can no longer be denied.

Read the report in full, the Detention Forum statement, coverage in the Independent and the Unlocking Detention interview with Dave in Morton Hall, who was detained for almost two years altogether.