Almost 400 women are held at Yarl’s Wood. But the Home Office is clear: Yarl’s Wood is not a jail. Nine out of 10 of the women are failed asylum seekers who have committed no crime.
Yet they are held alongside a small number of convicted criminals – and clearly regarded as the same by some guards.
While Channel 4 News was at Yarl’s Wood, it was clear that the ex-offenders are responsible for some of the most serious incidents, involving smuggling illicit drugs into the centre.
Crack cocaine, heroin and smoking paraphernalia were all discovered, as well as other extremely harmful substances.
‘Dignity and welfare’
Serco, which runs Yarl’s Wood, said their staff work hard to prevent such substances from entering the detention centre, and that class A drugs have only been found once in the past 12 months.
The dignity and welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance.Home Office
A Home Office sent Channel 4 News a statement in response to the Yarl’s Wood coverage. It said:
“The dignity and welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance.
“We have made clear to Serco and our other contractors that we expect them to conduct thorough and immediate investigations into all matters raised by this programme, and we will not hesitate to take whatever action we think appropriate in response.”