Both HMIP and Independent Monitoring Boards have expressed concerns about the Complaints Procedures in immigration detention. Complainants face disbelief and there are repeated failures to take detainees’ complaints seriously, to record injuries where necessary, or to reform practices where there is evidence of systemic malpractice.
Few complaints are upheld by the Home Office and many are not adequately investigated – even cases that subsequently are considered strong enough to get Legal Aid in order to make a claim against the Home Office. This engenders a sense of hopelessness amongst detainees, many of whom feel that their mistreatment and abuse is not taken seriously. It allows poor practice to continue unchallenged.
The Prison and Probation Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman have powers to investigate individual complaints and make recommendations both about individual cases and the complaints handling process. However, they only see a few complaints and do not undertake systematic reviews of complaints handling.