The Brook House Inquiry

Following an undercover reporter at Brook House Detention Centre exposing racism, physical assaults and abuse of detainees, our formerly detained client D687 and multiple NGOs in the sector, called for a public inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the mistreatment of detained people at Brook House IRC in 2017.

The Home office did not agree, in part due to their position that the exposure was of a “few bad apples” rather than a systemic problem in Brook House. Our clients took a successful judicial review of this decision, which effectively required the Home Secretary to set up a statutory public inquiry – which then Home Secretary, Priti Patel, did on 5 November 2019. This Inquiry heard evidence from detainees, home office staff and visitors to the detention centre. We represented D687 and NGOs who were core  participants.

The outcome of the inquiry has now been published. In her conclusions the Chair states :
“the Inquiry’s work has revealed that abuse within Brook House was even more widespread than was shown in the Panorama programme.”

She stated, “I found 19 incidents in which there was credible evidence of acts or omissions that were capable of amounting to mistreatment “contrary to Article 3” of the European Convention on Human Rights… The relevant period of this Inquiry is relatively short (five months). It is therefore of significant concern that, within a limited time frame, I identified 19 such incidents.”

the Chair further stated: “I have rejected the narrative portrayed by both the Home Office and G4S in their evidence, that events at Brook House were primarily the result of the behaviour of a small minority of staff. The evidence produced in the course of the Inquiry does not support this, and attempts to characterise the events in this way both minimise what occurred and seek to distance the Home Office and G4S from their responsibility for the prevailing culture. Many of the issues I have identified relate to a failure to follow the rules and safeguards that already exist in recognition of the risks associated with immigration detention. The troubling tendency to pay only superficial attention to the rules contributed to the toxic environment that existed at Brook House.”

Next Steps

The Home Office now has until 19th March 2024 to publish a detailed plan outlining how it plans to respond to the issues raised by the Inquiry. The Home Affairs Select Committee and Joint Committee on Human Rights will then take up its role of scrutinising that plan and its implementation going forward.

In the meantime, the Inquiry’s report is a vital tool for lawyers representing individuals detained by the Home Office under immigration powers. If your organisation is interested in learning more about the Inquiry’s findings and how they can be used to improve the lives of detained individuals, please contact or [i]

A link to a more detailed briefing can be found here.

[i] Deighton Pierce Glynn [including Joanna Thomson (retired), Mark Hylands, Clare Hayes ,Unkha Banda, Ralitsa Peykova, Ahmed Ali] acted for two Core Participants in the Inquiry, including formerly detained person D687 and Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG), a charity which provides practical and emotional support for people detained at Brook House and Tinsley House IRCs. We also acted for several Inquiry witnesses, including NGOs BID, Detention Action and INQUEST, and other individuals who were detained at Brook House in 2017 who gave evidence to the Inquiry about their experiences of detention. DPG instructed Nick Armstrong KC and Jesse Nicholls of Matrix Chambers, together with Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers.

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