Brook House: Spice drug tested on young detainee, inquiry toldon December 1, 2021 at 5:38 pm

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A reporter for Panorama says the synthetic drug had a “big grip” and would “send people crazy”.

Callum Tulley

Detainees at an immigration removal centre tested the drug spice on a younger man, an undercover BBC reporter has told a public inquiry.

Callum Tulley told the inquiry into mistreatment of detainees at Brook House that use of the drug was widespread.

He said he had been told by two officers that a batch of spice had been smuggled into the centre.

It was given to the young detainee to see what effect it would have, he said.

Mr Tulley had concerns about the age of the detainee, who was later removed from the immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport by social workers.

Spice, a synthetic version of cannabis, had a “big grip on Brook House, most of the time,” he said.

“It would send people crazy. People would fit and have seizures and vomit. Occasionally they would become violent.”

Brook House

Image source, G4S

The reporter described Christmas Day in 2016 as “absolute chaos” with 20 “medical responses” to detainees who had smoked spice.

Mr Tulley said he had no idea how spice was getting into the secure centre, saying staff did not know either.

He said he did not remember the issue being investigated.

Mr Tulley, now a full-time BBC staff member, contacted Panorama in 2016.

He said he believed his concerns about what was going on would not be taken seriously by G4S, which ran Brook House at the time.

He started working as an undercover reporter for the programme, wearing a hidden camera and microphone, while still employed at Brook House as a detention custody officer.

One issue the Panorama programme highlighted was the way in which Brook House mixed former criminals who had served criminal sentences and were due to be removed from the country, with non-criminals.

Mr Tulley strongly criticised the practice at the inquiry, saying it led to poor behaviour which also “rubbed off” on non-criminal detainees.

“I don’t think it was healthy at all,” he said.

The inquiry was again shown a section from his covert filming in which a detainee who was suffering from mental distress was put in a choking neck hold by custody officer Yan Pascali.

With his fingers around the man’s neck Mr Pascali was filmed threatening the detainee and swearing at him before saying he was going to “put him to sleep”.

“Yan seemed intent on killing him,” Mr Tulley said, forcing the journalist to intervene despite the risks of being exposed as an undercover reporter.

Mr Pascali broke the hold, but later suggested that force had not been used, Mr Tulley said.

He told the inquiry he received abusive messages after the award-winning Panorama programme was broadcast.

Following the documentary he said he was chased down the road after bumping into a detention custody officer from Brook House, only escaping after jumping into a taxi.

He said the culture at Brook House was one of “hostility to snitches”.

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