‘Slow’ border agency fails prisoners

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AN inspection at Highpoint Prison has slammed the UK border agency for being ‘slow’ over its decision whether to deport foreign inmates.

Highpoint, which houses more than 1,300 men, is one of the largest category C prisons in the country.

Nearly 22 per cent of its inmates are foreign – which is double the national average.

The UKBA visits the prison once a month to make its decisions about a prisoner’s immigration status.

But an annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board said that was ‘inadequate’ and had already led to 34 prisoners in the last year alone, being kept locked up beyond the end of their sentence, something the board said was ‘Unacceptable’.

“The UK Border Agency is often slow to reach a decision as to a prisoner’s immigration status, including whether to deport him or not.

“This can lead to a prisoner being held over sentence and causes more anxiety and resentment,” said the IMB.

“Given that the Foreigh National population at Highpoint is nearing 22 per cent which is double the national average, the Board feels strongly that more input from the UKBA is essential as the unneccessary anxiety prisoners feel by being held in this state of limbo has a negative impact on their lives at a difficult time.”

The IMB praised the work of drug and alcohol detection, and in education and training although it added it hoped the need to cut costs would not ‘erode’ this work.

The IMB report also said it had ‘grave concerns’ about ‘long delays to treatment for prisoners suffering from severe mental health issues, describing the situation as ‘intolerable’.