Scrutiny and Oversight

Inspecting Detention: detention monitoring bodies 

There are various statutory bodies responsible for inspecting the detention system in the UK.

These include HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which inspects prisons in England and Wales but also detention facilities, including Dungavel in Scotland. HMIP also inspect STHFs. HMIP inspectors are paid staff. 

The Independent Monitoring Boards have a duty to monitor and report on day to day life in detention, ensuring that 'proper standards of decency and care are maintained'. There is an IMB for every detention centre, but not in every STHF, which creates inconsistency in scrutiny of standards. IMB members are volunteers from the community. 

Both of these bodies form part of the National Preventive Mechanism, which was set up to ensure the UK meets its human rights obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). 

The Independent Chief Inspector of UK Borders and Immigration (ICIUKBI) has a remit to scrutinise the UK's border and immigration functions. 

'I believe that an independent review mechanism is needed to assess the cases of individuals who have been detained for lengthy periods, as this would motivate change in the system' 

John Vine, ICIUKBI, Annual Report 2012/13

'Harmondsworth IRC is in large parts a depressing, dirty place and in some cases has a destructive effect on the welfare of detainees.....detaining vulnerable detainees in unsuitable conditions'

Harmondsworth IMB, Annual Report 2014