OPCAT Article 4

New Publication: Monitoring Immigration Detention

A brand new publication, HMIP Detention Monitoring Methodology: A Briefing Paper, offers some very useful and illuminating insights into how the vital task of independent monitoring of immigration detention is being approached in England and Wales.

Immigration detentionThe University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law has published this new briefing paper as part of its Border Criminologies series. The Oxford University-based project brings together academics, practitioners, and those who have experienced border control from around the world to better understand the effects of border control and to explore alternatives to immigration detention.

The author of the briefing paper, Dr Hindpal Singh Bhui, is the Inspection Team Leader at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) in England and Wales. He has deftly put pen to paper to offer his institution’s view on how various immigration detention settings might be monitored by independent detention monitors, including by NPMs under the OPCAT. In the context of England and Wales such settings include immigration removal centres, family detention and residential short-term holding facilities, and removal flights.

In the United Kingdom HMIP also takes a lead role in relation to the OPCAT. In doing so, this highly respected monitoring body coordinates the overall activities of the country’s NPM and also undertakes core monitoring of a range of other detention settings in England and Wales, including police stations, youth detention facilities, prisons and court cells.

In this short briefing paper Dr Bhui concludes:

While detention monitoring may be carried out by a variety of state and non- state institutions, under the terms of OPCAT, national NPMs bear the principal responsibility. HMIP is part of the UK NPM and a long established professional detention monitoring body. It has accumulated technical knowledge and considerable political support. It also has sufficient funding to allow it to carry out its duties. Despite this, it still faces considerable challenges; for example, in ensuring that its methodology is responsive and relevant to current detention practices, and in encouraging establishments to implement its recommendations … NPMs operate in very different social, political and economic contexts and must find the best way to navigate their individual challenges. This briefing paper is therefore not offered as a blue-print, but as an example of the current approach of one detention monitoring body.

As highlighted previously on the Canada OPCAT Project website, at present oversight of immigration detention settings is exercised by the Canadian Red Cross through an agreement with the Federal Government. Unlike in the UK, no arms-length government body like HMIP currently exercises oversight over immigration detention in Canada. How the Canadian Government intends to plug this glaring OPCAT coverage gap remains unknown at present.

Nonetheless, Canadian readers (as well as our many foreign visitors to the website) are encouraged to read the University of Oxford’s highly welcome briefing paper.


Read this brand new publication, HMIP Detention Monitoring Methodology: A Briefing Paper.

Read more about HMIP and its monitoring methodology known as Expectations.

Get up to speed with the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law project, Border Criminologies.

Find other detention monitoring tools and guides under Other Resources.

Posted by mp in Independent detention monitors, Monitoring tools, NPMs, OPCAT, Places of detention