DETAINEES were mistreated in “prison-like” conditions at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre as 19 incidents of mistreatment took place in 2017, an inquiry has found.

The inquiry was launched in 2019, after a BBC Panorama investigation broadcast undercover footage showing alleged abuse towards detainees, including when a detention custody officer put his hands around a detainee’s neck and called him a “f**king piece of shit”, adding: “I’m going to put you to f**king sleep”.

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Ten members of staff were dismissed or resigned in the wake of the broadcast, and the company running the service – G4S – is no longer involved, with Serco taking over.

A total of 19 incidents of mistreatment took place at the detention centre near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex between April and August that year, inquiry chairwoman Kate Eves said.

Eves (below), said that the inquiry had found it was “common” for staff to use “racist and derogatory language” when speaking about detainees and “unacceptable, often abusive behaviour was dismissed as banter”.

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The report found repeated use of the dehumanising phrase “if he dies, he dies” and that there was “considerable evidence” that staff were “too quick to employ force”.

Citing one incident where staff initially “stood and looked” at a detainee who had been found unconscious having attempted to self-harm “without trying to help him”, Eves recommended rules changed for how force is used in Immigration Removal Centres (IRC).

However, Eves did not recommend that the centre shut altogether, but instead recommended that the Government introduce a time limit of 28 days maximum for a person to be held at an IRC.

The report noted that in July 2017 the average stay at the centre was 44 days, but five people had been there for between one and two years.

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Eves accused the Home Office of failing to act on previous recommendations, urging it to pay “more than mere lip service”.

One Home Office manager told the inquiry that if someone spent more than 24 hours at Brook House “you’re going to develop mental health issues”, adding “it’s not a nice place to be”.

This comes as the Government announced its intention to expand the use of immigration detention.

Eves said: “Any expansion or other change should be considered in the context of learning lessons from past failures”.

She has requested that the Government respond to her recommendations within six months.