Documents to download

The proceedings of this debate may be viewed on


Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre is a residential centre which predominantly houses adult women as well as adult family groups who are awaiting immigration clearance or removal from the United Kingdom. Built in 2001 and run by Group 4, in 2007 the management of Yarl’s Wood was taken over by Serco.

Healthcare within Yarl’s Wood was provided by Serco and is now run by G4S Medical Services who were awarded the healthcare contract on 1 September 2014. There are a range of healthcare professionals employed on site including doctors, nurses and a dental team. According to Serco, all residents are seen by a healthcare practitioner upon arrival to the centre to assess their physical and mental health needs. They are also offered an appointment with a GP. Serco say they work closely with the local NHS Trust in order to provide care which cannot be given at Yarl’s Wood.

In March 2015, Channel 4 News carried out an undercover investigation into Yarl’s Wood. This investigation uncovered allegations of mistreatment of residents by the centre’s staff and suggestions of substandard healthcare provision, particularly for pregnant women. In response to the Channel 4 investigation, Serco announced that they had appointed the former barrister and director of the NHS, Kate Lampard, to conduct an independent review into Serco’s work at Yarl’s Wood.

Likewise, a report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) was highly critical of the ongoing detention of pregnant women and of women with serious mental health problems. In their 2014 Annual Report, the IMB also reported, ‘serious concerns about the Healthcare provision at Yarl’s Wood. The department is under-staffed and lacked proper management for much of 2014. New commissioning arrangements and a change of Healthcare contractor on 1st September exacerbated the problems. GP hours have been cut and the counselling service withdrawn.’ (paras 4.5-4.6)

Yarl’s Wood was inspected by HMIP in 2015. In his report, Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, said, ‘Yarl’s Wood has deteriorated since our last inspection and the needs of the women held have grown. In my view, decisive action is needed to ensure women are only detained as a last resort.’ (p.7)

In February 2015, the Home Secretary announced that she had commissioned an independent review of the policies and procedures affecting the welfare of those held in immigration removal centres. This review, being conducted by Stephen Shaw, the former Prisons and Probations Ombudsman, is expected to be completed in the near future. It follows on from another Home Office commissioned review: the Tavistock Institute’s Review of Mental Health Issues in Immigration Removal Centres.

The National Audit Office is also carrying out an investigation into Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, due to report in the spring.

Useful Links & Further Information

House of Commons Library briefing, Immigration Detention in the UK: an overview, 7294

House of Commons Library briefing, Ending Child Immigration Detention, 5591

House of Commons Library briefing, Immigration and Asylum: changes made by the Coalition Government 2010-2015, 5829

HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, August 2015 [report of unannounced inspection and Service Improvement Plan]

Independent Monitoring Board, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Annual Report 2014

Care Quality Commission, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre, CQC Profile

Parliamentary Business

An accompanying pdf document containing recent Parliamentary Questions, debates and EDMs related to the subject of this debate, and providing a print version of this summary, may be downloaded from the bottom of this page.

Media Articles

The following is a selection of recent press and media articles relevant to this debate. Please note the Library is not responsible for the views expressed in, or the accuracy of, external content.

IB Times, 17 December 2015

International Migrants Day: ‘Yarl’s Wood was like being tortured for a second time’

Independent, 1 December 2015

The stories of women I met at Yarl’s Wood show how British detention laws remain the most barbaric in the EU

Telegraph, 11 September 2015

MPs: ‘The UK needs to drastically change the way it detains immigrants’

Telegraph, 4 September 2015

Inside Yarl’s Wood: ‘My disabled wife was forced to crawl on the floor to get food’

Telegraph, 20 August 2015

Inside the UK’s worst detention centre: ‘Hell must be better than that place’

Channel 4 News, 12 August 2015

Yarl’s Wood detention centre becomes ‘a national concern’

Telegraph, 12 August 2015

Inside the UK’s worst detention centre: ‘Ten weeks of hell for fleeing forced marriage’

ITV News, 12 August 2015

Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre ‘a national concern’, says prisons watchdog

Independent, 12 August 2015

Yarl’s Wood conditions and treatment deteriorated significantly since 2013

BBC News, 3 July 2015

Yarl’s Wood self-harm: Medical charity concerned over incidents

Mirror, 3 July 2015

Yarl’s Wood detainees regularly self harming to the point of needing medical attention

BBC News, 10 June 2015

Yarl’s Wood: Pregnant and vulnerable women ‘wrongly detained’

Guardian, 9 June 2015

Yarl’s Wood holding vulnerable women for too long, say monitors

Guardian 30 March 2015

End the detention of pregnant women at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre

Guardian, 3 March 2015

Locking up immigrants diminishes us all

Channel 4 News, 2 March 2015

Yarl’s Wood: undercover in the secretive immigration centre

Debate packs are intended to provide a summary or overview of the issues being debated and identify any relevant briefings including press and parliamentary material. A more detailed briefing may be prepared for a Member on request to the Library.

Documents to download

Related posts