10/03/2017 10:19 GMT

Four In Detention For More Than Two Years At Immigration Removal Centre

Four men have been held at an immigration removal centre for more than two years as it emerged the average length of detention there has increased, inspectors found.

A report revealed detainees at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre near Gatwick Airport had seen their average length of detention increase from 28 to 48 days.

Inspectors highlighted serious delays in some individual cases, with 23 detainees held for more than a year and four of these detained for more than two years.

The longest detention at the centre was for more than two and a half years, the report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said.

Concerns were raised about the apparent lack of analysis to explain the rise in average length of detention at the G4S-run centre, which held just under 400 men at the time of inspection.

The report, which followed an unannounced inspection last year, said: "Our casework analysis revealed cases of detention being prolonged by delays in immigration decision-making."

Other concerns included the "stark and impersonal" residential units and unsatisfactory sanitary facilities, leading detainees to feel they were being held in prison.

But overall the report said it was an "encouraging" inspection.

Brook House was deemed "reasonably good" in all four healthy establishment tests - safety, respect, activities and preparation for removal or release.

Praising staff, Mr Clarke said: "This also marks excellent progress from the standards we were seeing at Brook House when it first opened.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the standards now being observed at the centre are the result of a great deal of hard work by the management and staff."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are pleased that HM Chief Inspector of Prisons has recognised the improvements made at Brook House since the last inspection, and that excellent progress has been made since it first opened.

"Detention is an important tool that helps us remove those with no right to be in the country and it is vital that this is carried out with dignity and respect. We take the welfare of our detainees very seriously.

"We are considering the contents of the report and the Chief Inspector's recommendations carefully."

Government officials said nobody is detained indefinitely, and there were some who prolonged their detention through attempts to frustrate the removal process.

In some cases, prolonged detention is due to a detainee's failure to provide accurate information on time about their nationality or identity, which was needed to secure travel documents.

Regular reviews of detention are carried out to make sure it remains "lawful and proportionate", officials added.