Brook House immigration detention centre closed due to Covid cases

8 January 2021 Independent: Immigration detention centre forced to close due to Covid outbreak

Ministers accused of ‘playing Russian roulette with public health’ after detainees moved between removal facilities

The UK’s largest immigration removal centre has been temporarily closed due to an outbreak of Covid-19, and detainees have been transferred to another detention facility as a result.

The Home Office has confirmed Brook House removal centre, near Gatwick airport, has shut for 10 days due to a number of positive coronavirus cases among staff. It said a “small number” of detainees had been moved 40 miles away to Colnbrook removal centre, near Heathrow.

Campaigners condemned the decision to move people between detention centres after they had been exposed to the virus, and accused ministers of “playing Russian roulette with public health” by maintaining detention during the third wave of the pandemic.

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Guardian: Serco-run Brook House has been shut and some detainees moved to another centre, Home Office says

An immigration detention centre has been temporarily closed after several members of staff tested positive for coronavirus.

The Home Office said Brook House, near Gatwick airport in West Sussex, has been shut for 10 days. It said a “very small number” of detainees had been moved to Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow.

Everyone being held at detention centres is being seen by a nurse and offered a Covid test, while face masks are provided; these are mandatory for all staff, it said.

The department would not confirm how many staff and detainees have been affected but insisted it was a “very small number”.

Last month the Guardian revealed that three wings at Brook House were in lockdown after an outbreak of Covid-19. There were understood to be 17 confirmed cases at the immigration removal centre.

A notice from the Home Office contractor Serco, which runs the centre, was pushed under detainees’ cell doors confirming the news. The notice, seen by the Guardian, encouraged detainees to stay in their room.

Serco took over operations at Brook House from another outsourcing multinational, G4S, in May 2020.

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