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New immigrant detention centre open


A new immigration detention centre has opened in Co Antrim

A new immigration detention centre has opened in Co Antrim

A new immigration detention centre has opened in Co Antrim

A holding centre for illegal immigrants has been opened in Co Antrim.

It will detain up to 21 people for up to a week before they are removed from the UK.

David Wood, a strategic director at the UK Border Agency, said: "A tough system of enforcement and removal is one of the cornerstones of an effective immigration system.

"This new facility in Northern Ireland is a welcome addition to the UK Border Agency's estate and will help us remove more individuals who have no right to be here. We are reforming the system to make it more effective to ensure those with no right to be here are removed."

The first detainees will be accepted into Larne House on 11 July.

Last autumn, when Larne Borough Council was consulted on planning permission for the centre, some residents expressed concern about the impact of high fences and bright lighting. Some changes were made to the development following the council's response.

Patricia McNeill, vice chair of Larne District Policing Partnership, said: "This is a good news day for Larne. It has created jobs through building work.

"It is a very good facility. The fact that people will be held in this facility rather than in police cells is good for them. They are not prisoners, they just have to be returned to their countries of residence."

She said money had been generated for the PSNI from the decision to turn a custody suite at Larne police station into the new detention centre and they were lobbying for the money to be returned to the area.

The UK Border Agency can hold up to 3,400 people in detention across the UK at any one time. The centre should allow more foreign nationals with no right to be in the UK to be removed in the coming years.