A PROBE has been launched into the death of a man detained at an immigration removal centre, the Home Office announced yesterday.
The 43-year-old, who has not been identified, died at The Verne in Portland, Dorset, on Sunday.
The Home Office said that a full independent investigation will be conducted by the prisons and probation ombudsman.
The death of the detainee comes mere weeks after concerns were raised about the effects of detention on those held at The Verne.
Immigration removal centres are used to house asylum-seekers while their cases are being decided or after their leave to remain in the country has been refused.
The Verne is a former prison and has been a removal centre since September 2014. Nearly 500 men are held there.
In an unconnected incident on Monday, a small fire was started at the site and was extinguished by officers. No-one was injured.
Last month, campaigners spoke out against the inhumanity of these centres, pointing out that many inmates have little or no indication about how long they will be detained, often in poor conditions and without adequate care.
The Home Office insisted that people are held for the minimum time possible and no-one is detained indefinitely.
It said that of the people leaving detention last year, 64 per cent had been in detention for less than 29 days and 93 per cent for less than four months.
Emma Ginn, who is co-ordinator of the charity Medical Justice, which campaigns to improve the health of immigration detainees, said: “The death toll since 2000 of those who died in immigration detention or shortly after release now stands at 40.
“We know nothing of the circumstances of this death. What we do know is that safeguards aimed at identifying and dealing appropriately with vulnerable immigration detainees have failed on many occasions.
“Year after year, investigations of deaths in immigration detention reveal ongoing systemic healthcare failings.
“We fear that as long as these failings continue to go unaddressed there will be more deaths. We call for urgent action.”
The independent support group Detention Action said detainees are “often distressed at being locked up in the UK, traumatised by their experiences in their home country and fearful of being forcibly returned.
“Isolated and confused, many experience depression and psychological deterioration.”