Cedars had maintained the high standards for which it had become renowned, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick Airport.
Cedars’ purpose is to hold families subject to immigration control prior to their removal from the United Kingdom. It was opened in 2011 as a secure facility to hold families in pre-departure accommodation when all other options have not succeeded. Cedars is managed by G4S, the Home Office and Barnardo’s, who provide social work, welfare and family support services. It was last inspected in 2014. This more recent inspection awarded Cedars the highest grades in all areas – safety, respect, activities and preparation for removal and release.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- the facility was fitted out to very high standards and the premises were very well maintained;
- G4S, the Home Office and Barnardo’s all had staff on site and the level of partnership working between these agencies was impressive;
- preparation for the arrival of families remained good, the centre provided a safe environment and those at risk of self-harm were well supported;
- safeguarding and child protection procedures remained a high priority for all centre staff and were well managed;
- force had not been used in the centre since the last inspection and separation had not been used at all in the previous two years;
- the centre provided an excellent environment for children at a very stressful and potentially traumatic moment in their lives; and
- pre-removal support was good and those released were also given appropriate help.
The facility, however, is little used and since its last inspection in 2014, 46 family detentions had taken place of which only 16 led to removals from the UK. In addition, two recent independent reports had made reference to the cost of Cedars.
Peter Clarke said:
“On 21 July 2016 it was announced that Cedars was to close and new pre-departure accommodation established at Tinsley House immigration removal centre. The groundbreaking facility at Cedars will thus be lost, despite the significant human and financial investment in its success over the past few years. Cedars produced the best outcomes for detainees that we have seen anywhere in immigration detention. In due course we shall inspect and report on the new facilities at Tinsley House.”
Source: HM Inspectorate of Prisons
Photograph: HM Inspectorate of Prisons/PA