An independent inquiry is to be held into the alleged abuse of detainees at Brook House immigration removal centre, the Home Office has confirmed.
Staff at the facility, near Gatwick, were filmed by an undercover reporter for the BBC’s Panorama programme.
G4S, which runs Brook House, has commissioned an external review which is expected to be published this year.
Lawyers for two detainees pressed the Home Office for an independent inquiry and the department has agreed.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed on Thursday that the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) had been asked to carry out an investigation.
Following the Panorama programme in September 2017, 10 members of staff were suspended.
The immigration minister, Caroline Noakes, described the allegations as “appalling”.
According to officials, the PPO has been asked to conduct a “dedicated, special investigation” into the issues raised in the Panorama broadcast, though the terms of reference have not yet been finalised.
It is thought Sue McAllister – who was today announced as the new Ombudsman – is likely to carry out the inquiry.
Lewis Kett, solicitor for one of the two detainees, said: “We obviously welcome the Home Office’s concession that an independent…investigation is now needed.
“But the government needs to ensure that the PPO are given the powers they need to properly get to the bottom of why this happened and how to ensure it will never happen again.”
Joanna Thomson, lawyer for the other detainee, said: “It is imperative that the Home Office now acts quickly to give the PPO the powers needed to make this investigation effective.”
James Wilson, director of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, a charity which visits and supports detainees at Brook House, said: “It is vital, too, that this process examines the widespread and serious structural failings of the immigration detention system in the UK as a whole.”