Yarl's Wood

For over 20 years, Yarl’s Wood has been a site of cruelty.

Despite repeated calls for closure, reports of racist abuse, and the widely documented harm to the mental and physical health of people detained there, Yarl’s Wood is still open.

Yarl’s Wood used to be the main detention centre for women in the UK. It is now a detention centre mainly for men, with a small unit for women.

Inspection report findings

Recent inspection reports by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) have highlighted extremely concerning findings at Yarl’s Wood:

Unsafe, depressed and suicidal

HMIP’s October 2023 report found that a quarter of women in Yarl’s Wood felt unsafe, 83% felt depressed and a third felt suicidal.

HMIP report

Vulnerable women detained

Vulnerable women, including survivors of trafficking and torture, continue to be detained there, despite Government policy stating that they should not normally be detained.

Huge distress

A woman, who was deemed to be lacking mental capacity, was not only kept in detention, but was locked up in the segregation unit causing huge distress.

Limited access to welfare services

Women in Yarl’s Wood were found to have ‘considerably worse’ access to welfare services compared with men.


Some women felt intimidated as their exercise yard is overlooked by a male unit.

It is time to shut it down!

There have been numerous reports and findings of sexual harassment and abuse of women by male staff at Yarl’s Wood over the past decade, and in 2015, a Channel 4 News investigation documented the racist and sexist abuse of women by Serco staff.