The Home Office has recently announced plans to reopen Campsfield House and Haslar as Immigration Removal Centres, increasing the number of people that can be detained at any given time by 1000 (a 33% increase), at a cost of £399million.
With the government’s Rwanda plan now in jeopardy, this is an opportunity to deal another blow to the government’s cruel agenda.
Immigration detention is harmful, unnecessary and expensive. It ruins lives and destroys communities. Unlawful detention payouts are at record levels – in the last year, the Home Office paid out £12.7m to 572 people who had been unlawfully detained. But instead of helping out UK residents with the cost of living crisis, the government is spending £227million on a new detention centre. For more information on why these plans are inhumane, unnecessary and should not go ahead, read our briefing here.
We’ve seen already that the government’s hostile anti-migrant agenda can be defeated. Earlier this month the government ditched its inhumane and impractical plans to warehouse 1500 people seeking asylum in military barracks in a small North Yorkshire village, after sustained campaigning from NGOs, local groups, individuals and politicians. Help us inflict another defeat on the government.
A pre-procurement notice was published by the Home Office stating that commercial partners will be sought to manage both sites, with a 6-year contract extendable for up to a further 2 years. Campsfield House will have an operating capacity of 400, and Haslar 600, costing the taxpayer £170million and £229million respectively. Neither site is expected to open until at least late 2023. The detention expansion has been linked to the government’s inhumane Rwanda policy.
The Home Office state its intention is to ‘go to market within the next 12 months’ and the local authority has not yet been approached about which planning permissions are required for the site. There is already considerable opposition to the plans from local groups and politicians. Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon (where Campsfield House is located) has stated that the community would be "incredibly dismayed" after having succeeded in the fight to get the centre closed down, stating "Locking people up for months on end - without giving them any idea how long they'll be detained - is inhumane and unnecessary". A statement by Oxford City Council has stated that “Oxford City Council is unequivocally opposed to the re-opening of Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre and calls on the government to create a fair, humane and compassionate immigration system.”
There is already significant opposition. Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon (where Campsfield House is located) has stated that the community would be "incredibly dismayed" after having succeeded in the fight to get the centre closed down, stating "Locking people up for months on end - without giving them any idea how long they'll be detained - is inhumane and unnecessary". Oxford City Council, who have declared they are “unequivocally opposed to the re-opening of Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre and calls on the government to create a fair, humane and compassionate immigration system."
Haslar has not been used as an immigration removal centre since its closure in 2017. The site was built as military barracks in 1802 and is considered to have particular historical significance. There was a consultation about the proposals to introduce a conservation area, and 71 responses were received. There were many different ideas for how the site could be used, including increased public access and removal of a concrete wall on the seafront to create cycle and pedestrian access; accommodation; use for recreational, sports or tourism; or as a military or historical museum. Not a single suggestion recommended it being returned to an IRC.
Layla Moran has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) to oppose the re-opening of both detention centres. This is a way for your MP to use their voice to oppose the expansion of detention at this critical time.
You can also follow the Keep Campsfield Closed coalition and the #KeepCampsfieldClosed hashtag on Twitter to keep updated.