Friday, January 04, 2008

Racism in Immigration Detention Centres

Widespread racism was exposed inside Britain's immigration removal centres last night in an official report.
The Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA) said its detainees had been called "black bastards", "donkeys" and "animals" and described the atmosphere as "distressing and turbulent" at one centre and "tense" at another.

It launched its official audit of racism - published yesterday - after a TV documentary broadcast in 2005 uncovered racist abuse at the Oakington removal centre in Cambridgeshire.

The agency found the worst racism at Harmondsworth, a large centre near Heathrow .
"Regular taunting of detainees by some officers goes unchallenged," the BIA report found. Repeated patterns of alleged racist incidents were missed by the in-house investigation process, it added. There were even "staff on staff" racial problems at Harmondsworth between colleagues

At Scotland's only centre, Dungavel in Strathaven, South Lanarkshire some residents felt they were denied access to the kitchen "as a result of bias or the racist attitude of staff".

Ex-prisoners awaiting deportation are filling many of the UK's other nine removal centres. At one, Colnbrook, which, like Harmondsworth, is near Heathrow, they told auditors they would rather be in jail than in immigration detention.

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