Diane Abbott raises ‘desperate’ situation of Yarl’s Wood detainess in Commons

Detainees at the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre are in a “desperate” situation, ministers have heard.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott again raised concerns about the conditions at the centre and accused the Government of ignoring women who are “on hunger strike” at the facility.

Serco, which runs the centre, confirmed that some women were refusing to eat in the restaurant but said this did not constitute a hunger strike.

Ms Abbott visited the centre in Bedford for the first time last Friday “after a year of asking” and asked Home Secretary Amber Rudd to meet with her to discuss the quality of medical care on offer.

Speaking in the Commons, she said: “Are ministers aware of the longstanding concerns about the quality of medical care at Yarl’s Wood, concerns that were raised with me by so many women last week.

“Is the minister aware that victims of trafficking and sexual abuse are being held at Yarl’s Wood contrary to Government undertakings and is the minister aware that some at Yarl’s Wood are on hunger strike, a hunger strike the Home Office flatly refuses to admit is happening.

Ms Abbott said: “The women of Yarl’s Wood are desperate and we owe them a duty of care.

“Will the minister agree to meet with me so that I can share with her the specific concerns that so many women raised with me?”

Ms Rudd said she was happy to meet, adding: “I would say to her that we take the health of everybody in any detained centre very seriously, there are high levels of standards there and if there are any examples otherwise I will always take a look at them.

“But I was concerned by some of her suggestions afterwards when she made her speech. Immigration detention centres play an important part in enforcing our immigration rules.

“Some of the people there are very dangerous and it is right that they are detained and then removed.”

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