Helping detainees in need of medical assistance

Inspectorates and Public Scrutiny

HMIP and the CQC

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) has powers of entry into all the IRCs and now do inspections unannounced. They inspect against their ‘Expectations’ which includes healthcare. They survey detainees and speak to detainees and staff.  The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates and conducts inspections of health and social care in immigration detention, led by HMIP.

See The Ministry of Justice content on website

See The Care and Equality Commission website


The Independent Monitoring Boards

These boards are appointed by the Secretary of State in accordance with the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to monitor the conditions and operation of IRCs. The Board members have a statutory obligation to hear complaints from detainees and can question staff and  monitor the way in which complaints are heard and managed in IRCs and short term holding facilities. There is an annual report covering each IRC.

See Independent Monitoring Boards website


HealthWatch England

HealthWatch England is a statutory subcommittee of the CQC that has statutory powers to monitor all local health and social care services, including monitoring the healthcare provided within IRCs. Local HealthWatch committees have the power to meet with people detained in IRCs to obtain their views about their experiences of care services. 

See Healthwatch website

See our Healthwatch report



Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) publishes investigations into complaints and deaths in detention and may also do an inquiry, which can be extensive where there is a death in detention.

See Prisons & Probation Ombudsman website

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)

The PHSO publishes investigation into complaints about health care in the detention centre,

See Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman website


Overview and Scrutiny Committees

OSCs are local authority committees that make recommendations to the council’s executive, and other local bodies. Such bodies are under various obligations to respond or have regard to these recommendations.  Bedfordshire OSC has undertaken a review of Yarls Wood IRC.


National Preventative Mechanism (NPM)

The National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) is a grouping of statutory bodies including the HMIP and CQC. It was established in 2009 to strengthen the protection of people in detention through independent monitoring. In coordination across the four nations of the UK, the NPM focuses attention on practices in detention that could amount to ill-treatment, as outlined in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) which is an international human rights treaty designed to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty. The NPM publishes an annual report and makes submissions to the UN Human Right Commission.

See National Preventive Mechanism website


Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT) is a Council of Europe body which sends inspectors for occasional visits and makes reports, which get published together with the government response. They will be visiting the UK in 2016.

See the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture website

"We are all looking forward to the day when Medical Justice is no longer needed and may disband. Paradoxically, Medical Justice itself is an organisation that offers me some hope that one day this will be possible."

(Volunteer doctor)