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Campsfield House Removal Centre Set To Close

The Home office looks set to close Campsfield House, one of the immigration removal centres it currently operates. The decision has come after a barrage of condemnation from a variety of sources. The immigration detention centre, which holds 282 detainees, has been the subject of intense criticism in the last few months.

The British Red Cross called for a massive rethink and overhaul of the UK immigration detention system in light of the closure, warning that conditions in UK detention centres directly cause suffering, ongoing mental health issues and can lead to suicide attempts.

The Home Office is still reeling from the effects of a few years of bad press. Earlier this year ‘The Independent’ reported that despite courts ruling that they could be released, many asylum seekers were still being held at Detention Centres unlawfully. The newspaper also reported worrying figures indicating an epidemic of self-harm and that the worrying number of detainees on ‘suicide watch’ was on the rise.

It later emerged that more than 100 expectant mothers had been detained in Removal Centres like Campsfield House. This was despite the Government’s own 2016 review recommending the Home Office put an end to this.

Most damming of all, a sting operation at Brook House last year caused a major scandal when footage was leaked to the BBC. It showed detainees being restrained, abused and humiliated by guards.

According to immigration minister Caroline Nokes, it is now the right time to modernise the detention system. The Home Office is committing itself to reduce the detention estate by 40%. They have also promised wholesale change to the system. This includes a commitment to only use detention centres as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

Opposition MPs sound cautiously optimistic, pleased that the government has taken a vital step towards protecting vulnerable immigrants and asylum seekers. Not prepared, it seems, to lavish praise on a Government that has a historically bad record in this area.

Whether the closure of Campsfield House is the first of many or a one-off response to mounting political pressure remains to be seen. Despite the best work of lawyers, charities and religious groups, vulnerable people still find themselves locked up in detention centres whilst their cases are being reviewed.


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