Detention itself causes harm. In 2010, research by JRS Europe found that ‘a person becomes vulnerable from the first day of their detention, as the individual’s personal condition is instantly affected due to their disadvantaged and weakened position.’

It is the Home Office’s responsibility to provide effective safeguards against the detention of people vulnerable to harm. According to the Home Office’s own policy, these include – but are not limited to – people with a disability or mental health condition (including PTSD and learning difficulties), survivors of torture, trafficking and gender-based violence, pregnant women, transsexual and intersex people, and people aged 70 or over.

However, despite numerous proposals for reform, including the implementation of a highly criticised ‘Adults at Risk’ policy in 2016, there is evidence that the Home Office is still failing to implement effective safeguards. In his second review of welfare in immigration detention, published in July 2018, Stephen Shaw again highlighted multiple shortcomings in Home Office policies and procedures designed to protect vulnerable people in detention. In response, the Home Office appointed the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to report annually on the implementation of the Adults at Risk policy.

Our reports page is a good source of further information about vulnerability in immigration detention.