At the request of managers at Serco plc, Ed Marsden and I returned to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre at the beginning of November to assess the progress that had been made in implementing the recommendations in our report published earlier in 2016. We adopted a lighter touch to this follow up work than was the case with our initial investigation but we still undertook 23 interviews, some of them group interviews, and visited the centre on seven occasions.
We identified some notable improvements. These included the expansion of the senior management team, a reduction in complaints against staff following the introduction of body cameras for all staff, improvement in safeguarding processes, better mental health care, and increased opportunities for residents to cater for themselves. There were a number of matters that still needed to be addressed. The most significant of these were the recruitment and retention of staff and staffing levels in the centre.
As with our previous visits to the centre, management, staff and residents were keen to talk about their experiences of the centre and to offer insights on the way it is managed. They said our initial report had given a fair picture of the centre and the issues relating to its management.