Dungavel inspectors praise care of detainees but urge investment
The immigration facility in Lanarkshire received an unannounced inspection in July.
Inspectors have praised the standard of care at Scotland’s only detention centre but noted staff shortages and the need for refurbishment at the facility.
Dungavel House immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire held around 80 people when visited in July this year.
Many parts of the centre, run by GEO Group on behalf of the Home Office, were said to be “shabby” and in need of repair.
The relationship between detainees and staff was described as “excellent” and “a key strength” of the centre, which opened in 2001. It was last visited by inspectors in 2015.
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “We were pleased to see that the positive, welfare-focused staff culture seen previously had been maintained.
“This is a precious resource that custodial institutions often struggle to embed, and it was therefore concerning to find indications of a more frustrated and often tired staff group.
“Their generally positive comments to inspectors were punctuated by unhappiness at persistent staff shortages and the lack of investment in Dungavel.”
Inspectors noted little use of force at the centre and said that while many detainees said they felt unsafe, this was due to the uncertainty of their situation rather than a fear of harm at the facility.
Detainees had much better access to legal aid than in England and Wales, which helped them to manage their stress, the report said.
Access to health care including mental health services was also good, and detainees were offered a range of activities and recreational facilities including a gym.
There was not enough focus on the specific needs of women detainees, however, and the local immigration team was said to be under-resourced and not always able to make face-to-face contact with detainees.
At the time of the inspection, two-thirds of detainees had been held for less than a month. Four people had been held for between six and 12 months and two for more than a year.
Mr Clarke said: “Preserving the staff culture that has allowed Dungavel to repeatedly produce the best inspection outcomes in the detention estate, and investing in the deteriorating infrastructure of the centre, are the most immediate challenges.”