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Plans to open immigration centre on old site are ‘disgraceful’, MP says

The former Campsfield House immigration removal centre near Oxford is to become a 400-bed detention site for men.

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Campsfield Immigration Centre (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Campsfield Immigration Centre (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Campsfield Immigration Centre (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Plans to open a new immigration removal centre at the site of the former Campsfield House have been branded as “disgraceful” by critics who fear that “trauma and misery” may be inflicted on those who end up there.

The Home Office has announced it is looking to open a new secure facility for 400 men in late 2023 at the old Campsfield immigration removal centre near Oxford.

The previous 282-bed centre was shut in 2018 after years of problems including complaints about the conditions people were held in.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, described it as “a disgraceful decision by the Home Office and I will fight it every step of the way”.

She tweeted that a new campaign to stop the site from reopening has been launched.

The campaign says: “Before its closure in 2018, there were concerns about the length of time people were being detained, and the high proportion of detainees taken into detention and then subsequently released.

“The community fought for many years to get the site closed and in 2015 successfully campaigned to stop further expansion.”

Maria Brul, campaigns and advocacy co-ordinator at Detention Action, said: “Over 20 years, Campsfield immigration detention centre was the site of a teenage suicide, hunger strikes and the unjust detention of thousands of people seeking asylum.

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Detainees at Campsfield House ( Michael Stephens/PA)

Detainees at Campsfield House ( Michael Stephens/PA)

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Detainees at Campsfield House ( Michael Stephens/PA)

“It was closed by (then home secretary Sajid) Javid in an attempt to avoid the extreme harm that indefinite detention causes. Its reopening is a sign that (Home Secretary) Priti Patel is long out of ideas, and so is once again opting to inflict trauma and misery on more black and brown people.”

The new site is set to house foreign criminals and immigration offenders in a combination of refurbished and new-build accommodation.

The Home Office said the centre will be a chance to provide local employment.

Tom Pursglove, minister for justice and tackling illegal migration, said: “Those who have abused the immigration system, including foreign national criminals who have devasted the lives of their victims, should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them. This is what the British public rightly expects.

“Opening a new immigration removal centre, as part of the New Plan for Immigration, will help ensure there is sufficient detention capacity to safely accommodate individuals ahead of removal.”

The Home Office said the welfare people in immigration detention is of the upmost importance and would be taken into account as Campsfield is redeveloped.

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