Supplementary memorandum submitted by
UK Border Agency
Thank you for taking the time to visit Yarl's
Wood Immigration Removal Centre on the 15 October. I hope that
you and your colleagues found the visit informative.
During your visit you asked again for the specific
costs of operating the centre. After seeking further advice, I
regret that I am still not able to provide you with that information
as it is commercially sensitive, and its release would breach
our contractual requirement to keep the information restricted.
I would, however, refer you to my letter of 7 October 2009 which
set out the total budget for Detention Services, which has responsibility
for managing the UK Border Agency's detention estate. I can also
confirm that Detention Services regularly market test all our
operating contracts which have an average length of around 5 years.
This ensures we are continually challenging the specification,
services offered and price with the market. Bids are evaluated
using tried and tested methodologies, and are subject to the scrutiny
of the Agency's internal investment forum. Contracts worth over
£40m over their life-time are additionally scrutinised by
the Home Office's Group Investment Board. The contract at Yarl's
Wood was only tendered in 2007 and I amconfident therefore that
it provides excellent value for money to the tax payer.
During your visit you also referred to the Report
published by the Children's Society and BID (Bail for Immigration
Detainees) into the mental and physical health of children held
within immigration detention centres. This report was to be published
on the 15 October but had been made public on the 13 October in
advance of your visit. I thought it would be helpful to provide
some further details in response to concern you may have about
the contents of the report.
The study took place over 3 years ago, yet this
was the first time that report had been made available to us.
It involved the examination of just 24 children who passed through
Yarl's Wood over a 9 month period. Referrals to the clinicians
were made on the basis of selection by BID, an organisation that
seeks the release of detained Asylum Seekers, which may have led
to a biased sample. Furthermore, much of the information was gathered
from parents themselves, whom we believe were more likely to exaggerate
the situation of their children to seek their release.
Notwithstanding that, the study was undertaken
without any reference to the UK Border Agency or its clinicians.
At no point were healthcare or centre staff, who would have known
the children, asked for their views or comments. A number of criticisms
are therefore made without any corroborated evidence, or with
any opportunity for the centre to comment. Indeed you saw the
benefits of checking information for yourself when a family alleged
that their child had been left injured without treatment, yet
the healthcare staff were able to explain to you not only how
the child had come to be injured, but more importantly that assistance
was provided immediately to the child and the whole incident was
Finally, since the study was completed, we have
seen a change in contractor and a significant number of changes
have been made to the way in which the centre is operated, to
create a far more relaxed environment to support the children
in our care. Sir Al Aynsley-Green fairly reflected this in his
evidence to you. I thought it was interesting that the independent
social worker highlighted a different side of the regime of Yarl's
Wood when she commented twice during our meeting how they have
evidence of children thriving at Yarl's Wood.
We are not complacent on how we treat children
and are constantly seeking improvementin the regime at Yarl's
Wood and our processes. We also respond to well founded criticism
but we unfortunately do face unfair and unfounded commentary which
does not fit into this category. Can I once again thank you and
your colleagues for taking the time out of your busy schedule
to visit Yarl's Wood.