26/03/2020: IRCs Are An Unnecessary Hub Of Infection
Medical Justice have called repeatedly for detainees to be released to dissipate an unnecessary hub of infection:
For a detailed expert analysis of the conditions inside of IRCs which may potentially contribute to the spread of COVID-19 see Richard Coker, Report on Coronavirus and Immigration Detention (Detention Action 2020). Available to view here
25/03/2020: Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Home Office preparedness for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Written Evidence submitted by Medical Justice
25 March 2020
An immigration detainee has already tested positve for COVID-19 at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC). IRCs are high risk for clusters of COVID-19, and staff provide a conduit for infection to and from the community.
The response to COVID-19 within IRCs has already been problematic. It is widely acknowledged that even at the best of times, healthcare in IRCs is entirely inadequate and that detention can exacerbate existing medical conditions.
Many detainees are especially vulnerable due to their co-existing physical illnesses.
17/03/2020: Update on our work and office during the COVID-19 pandemic
Medical Justice operations during the Coronavirus pandemic
The Medical Justice team has had to make a few adjustments to ensure we do our best to protect the health of our staff, volunteers, clients and that of the wider community.
Medical Justice knows that many immigration detainees are particularly worried at this time.
Immigration detention is not part of any criminal sentence; it is purely for the administrative convenience of the Home Office. By continuing to hold immigration detainees, the Home Office is risking public health, including that of detainees and immigration removal centre staff, for its own administrative convenience – this is unconscionable, and we continue to challenge it in every way we can.
Most of the Medical Justice team is working remotely from Tuesday 17th March 2020. We hope to continue to be able to work as normally as possible within the constraints.
Given that contact between staff will now largely be by email and tele-conferencing, there may inevitably be some delays. There may be periods ahead during which some staff members are unable to work or have to work reduced hours and other team members may be affected by arrangements to cover.
It would be best to check if any face-to-face meetings are still due to go ahead. We will endeavour to find ways that we can continue working with you – whether by phone, Skype or using other online tools.
All our usual contact mechanisms are still working. Your call might be re-directed, so please do not be surprised if there a small delay. We are doing everything we can to make sure you can contact us. The best way to contact us is by email if you can.
Phone: 0207 561 7498
Fax: 08450 529370
Email for casework enquiries and volunteering: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Press queries: please contact email@example.com
or call 07786517379
Other emails: firstname.lastname@example.org
In an emergency about individual detainees, if you cannot get through on the office phone-line, leave a message and we will call you back.
Please only use the emergency mobile if it is very urgent and we have not got back to you.
Emergency contact number: 07540 300563
Visits to immigration detainees
Visits to detainees are still permitted by the Immigration Removal Centres for now, though our volunteer clinicians have limited capacity to undertake visits at this time, leading to greater waiting times for assessments. Where possible, Medical Justice is facilitating visits by our volunteer clinicians as usual, if the detainee doesn’t have any Coronavirus symptoms, we are also exploring alternative ways to assist detainees in need of medical assessment. The online referral mechanism is still the most effective way to make a referral to Medical Justice.
Medical Justice is doing everything it can to continue supporting immigration detainees and to challenge the inadequacies of healthcare in immigration detention !
Thank you for your continued support and patience during the Coronavirus pandemic
Along with other charities, Medical Justice wrote to the Home Secretary demanding the immediate release of all immigration detainees. See the letter here.