MP Calls For Yarls Wood Inquiry

4 March 2010, 05:00

North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt has called on the Government Immigration Minister Meg Hillier to announce an inquiry to try to make clear what's been going on at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Centre in Clapham.

After recent protests by detainees, there have been claims and counterclaims as to what actually happened.

Mr Burt believes the present situation is undermining confidence in the asylum process, when the public need re-assurance.

He said "Unrest at Yarl’s Wood is not new, and much stems from the length of time cases take to be dealt with. A backlog of 450,000 cases was found in 2006, which the Government is only part way through resolving, a symptom of a system which satisfies neither the public, who want safe and secure borders, nor those families caught up in the asylum process, who want a just and quick answer to their claims.

"Following the recent protest, there has been much in the national press suggesting a difference of opinion in how the protest was handled. It is important to resolve this independently as it seems to me unfair on either staff or detainees if false allegations are made, or genuine grievances ignored."

After asking for action in a recent debate in the House of Commons, Mr Burt has now written again to the Minister asking for her decision on a short, sharp inquiry.

"I do not support refusal of food as a protest, which could cause harm to an individual, and cannot influence policy or a case decision. But the situation should not be allowed to drag on, and I think the intervention of HM Inspector on this occasion would be of benefit to Yarl’s Wood, detainees, Serco and all of us."