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Immigration detention and removal in the UK

"We were sleeping and the officer came. It was scary and Mum was crying."
"I didn’t think it was real, not real life."
"They were bashing and kicking the door."
“It’s not nice going to the toilet in front of an officer."
"They broke our house."

In early 2010 OurKingdom began to illuminate the UK’s appalling policy of arresting and detaining children in conditions known to harm them.

This journalism, sprung from the unfunded End Child Detention Now campaign, grew into our Shine A Light project, led by award-winning investigative reporter Clare Sambrook.


Rough handling and restraint: UK forced removals still a nasty business

A support group gathers disturbing testimony from people deported by commercial contractors.

G4S: Don't blame us — blame the prison system

An activist reports from G4S annual general meeting, Surrey, England, 26 May 2016.

British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own

  • • Omar Mateen, who killed 50 people in gay nightclub, was employed as armed guard by G4S.
  • • G4S guards have killed before.
  • • Company sells its expertise in vetting staff.

Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined

On Home Office flights private sector guards apply restraints so extreme they are very rarely used in prisons. What happened on the 24/25 May flight to Nigeria and Ghana?

Inquest jury finds failures in detainee healthcare

An MRI brain scan that was wrongly cancelled might have led to life-saving treatment for Bruno Dos Santos, who died aged 25 in the care of UK immigration authorities.

Cancelled brain scan could have saved UK immigration detainee

Inquest, Day Four: Neurologist testifies that he might have saved 25 year old Bruno Dos Santos. 

Private healthcare company Care UK cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan

Jury hears that HMP Thameside staff didn’t know the rules concerning hospital appointments. Bruno Dos Santos Inquest, Day Three. 

G4S promises (again) to repaint asylum seeker red doors and relocate families at risk

Four months after 'red doors' scandal broke, security company says it really will stop making asylum seekers’ homes so easy to locate and attack.

Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup

Day Two of the inquest into the death of Bruno Dos Santos.

Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup

Jury hears of ‘chaotic’ and ‘stressful time’ at the Verne immigration removal centre. Day One of the inquest into the death of Bruno Dos Santos.

Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists

Regardless of government orders and promises to Parliament, UK property company Jomast carries on putting asylum tenants at risk.

Locked up, pushed out. Shaida’s welcome to Britain

While European leaders bicker over their asylum rules, Shaida waits in dread.

The UK government’s inversion of accountability

What to make of a government that increasingly excuses its actions from legal accountability while demanding more and more accountability from citizens? 

Bed bugs and freight sheds: Britain’s welcome to asylum seekers

How do the government and its commercial contractors respond to criticism of standards in asylum housing?

Children in trouble: punishment or welfare?

BBC Panorama exposed abuse at Medway Secure Training Centre — and a government policy that has gone off the rails.

Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords

“An unseemly and unsavoury” business? Stuart Monk of Jomast fails to impress.

Marked out for attack: living in the UK 'asylum market'

Private companies took public money to house asylum seekers behind distinctive red doors and make them wear bright shiny wristbands.

Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?

Why did UK commercial contractors G4S and Jomast paint asylum seekers’ doors red? Why did they ignore complaints for years?

Black deaths: still fighting for justice in the UK

Ken Fero's award-winning films about black deaths at the hands of the police in Britain record the continuing struggle to get justice. They have never been broadcast in the UK. Part of our partnership with the Unorthodocs programme of screenings and events.

The report which could destroy Britain’s immigration prisons

The former prisons Ombudsman Stephen Shaw has urged ministers to reduce immigration detention “boldly and without delay”.

Rich migrant, poor migrant

The UK government’s welcome depends on the size of your wallet.

Hundreds of children are disappearing from local authority care

Already vulnerable children are going missing at an alarming rate. What is being done to protect them? 

Children in peril in London

Local authorities are placing children in damp, rodent-infested, dangerous accommodation.

G4S disputes claims that transgender asylum-seeker had to share bedroom with man

Neglect, contempt and hostility — how the UK government really welcomes refugees.

People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights

Commercial contractors routinely belt immigration detainees into restraints so extreme that they are rarely used in prisons.

Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK

Corporations bleed what profits they can from disaster. Democracy is replaced by a business plan. An excerpt from Antony Loewenstein’s Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe.

Frail 84 year old subjected to ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’, prison ombudsman says

The death of Alois Dvorzak exposes increased shackling of immigration detainees, as commercial contractors fear financial penalties that follow escapes.

90% of immigration detainees visiting hospital were handcuffed, inquest hears

  • Dvorzak inquest. Day 8: Juror: Should arrangements for vulnerable detainees have been in place a long time ago?
  • Home Office official: “Yes. I don't know why they weren’t.” 

London doctor: ‘We receive a lot of patients from detention centres. Quite often they’re cuffed.’

  • 84 year old immigration detainee was handcuffed and chained as he lay dying in hospital. Dvorzak Inquest, Day 6.

‘We, former detainees, demand the closure of Dungavel immigration removal centre’

Today former detainees and their supporters gather to protest at the former prison in South Lanarkshire.

Dying detainee, 84, taken to hospital, handcuffed to a chain. Dvorzak inquest. Day 5

  • Coroner: “But Mr Dvorzak had chest pains. Why was he still handcuffed?”
  • Security company employee: “I can’t justify a comment on that.”
  • West London Coroner’s Court, 23 October 2015.

Security company tried to overrule medic’s concerns about Alois Dvorzak, inquest told. Day 4

The for-profit escort company Tascor told a worried medic that a frail old man’s removal from Britain “could not be aborted unless there was resistance”, an inquest jury hears. 

Dying 84 year old taken to hospital in handcuffs. Twice. Alois Dvorzak inquest. Day 3.

Manager of a UK for-profit detention centre tells inquest jury: “There was no room for discretion. Challenging it would have slowed him going to hospital.”

Alois Dvorzak inquest: Doctor repeatedly warned that 84 year old was not fit to be detained

Detention centre healthcare, by commercial contrator Primecare, was “extremely basic” and unsafe, court hears. 

Alois Dvorzak inquest: death of vulnerable and confused 84 year old detained by UK Border Force

Days before his death, a frail old Canadian man slept on chairs in a Gatwick Airport holding room, a court heard yesterday.

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