On 14 February 2002, half of the Immigration Service’s flag ship removal centre, Yarl’s Wood, was destroyed following a disturbance and fire.
An inquiry was begun by a senior Prison Service official, Mr Stephen Moore. In June 2003, the then Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, the Rt Hon Beverley Hughes MP, asked the Ombudsman to take over the inquiry.
In his foreword to the report, the Ombudsman wrote:
"The disturbance and fire at Yarl’s Wood on the night of 14/15 February 2002 were hugely traumatic events. Traumatic for those detainees, including families with young children, who played no part in the disturbance but who were terrified by it. Traumatic for those staff at Yarl’s Wood and in the emergency services who attempted to restore order. And traumatic for those policymakers and officials whose flagship removal centre was destroyed less than three months after opening."
The Ombudsman's report explores the commissioning and building of the centre, in the context of the political environment of the time. It looks at the running of the centre for the three months it was open, examines events leading up to the disturbance and reviews the management of the incident. The Ombudsman's report was published in November 2004 and made 79 recommendations.