Link to BBC Film: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cambridgeshire/8623025.stm
An investigation has been launched into the death of a detainee at an immigration removal centre amid allegations he died despite repeated pleas for a doctor and painkillers.
The death of the man, who is believed to have been a 40-year-old Kenyan, prompted protests from other detainees at the Oakington centre near Cambridge.
Police in protective clothing were sent to the centre following a “disturbance” this morning, but no one was hurt.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: “At about 3.55am there was a sudden death at the centre – a 40-year-old man, a detainee. Investigations are ongoing … but we are not treating it as suspicious.”
One source told the Guardian that the man, who is thought to have had a heart attack, had asked for Panadol repeatedly and was seen “crawling around the floor in pain” before he died.
The source claimed the man’s pleas for help were refused by staff at the centre, which is run by the private security company G4S for the UK Border Agency.
Dashty Jamal, general secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, told the Guardian he had spoken to detainees and had also been told the man died of a heart attack: “He was asking for a doctor. It’s very hard to get a doctor there. He had a heart attack and he died.”
G4S has refused to comment tonight. A border agency spokesman said the death was being investigated by the police.
Caroline Slocock, chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Justice group, called for an “urgent and immediate” inquiry.
“Whenever something like this happens in a removal centre it is crucial that the other detainees are reassured at the earliest opportunity,” she said.
“We call for an urgent and immediate enquiry into the circumstances that led to this tragic event.”
Dr Frank Arnold, the clinical director of the Medical Justice Network, called for the immediate closure of Oakington and other similar facilities.
“Our volunteer doctors have found that the harm being caused by immigration removal centres is so widespread that the only solution is to close them down,” he said.
“Medical Justice agrees with HM Inspector of Prisons that healthcare at immigration removal centres be transferred to the NHS. In some cases we have convinced the detention centre to take the detainee to hospital.
“The majority of detainees we sent volunteer doctors in to see have been released and many have gone on to be granted leave to remain in the UK, begging the question why they were ever detained in the first place.”