PM responds to letter calling for closure of Campsfield

first_imgShe also commented to Cherwell, “It is disappointing that David Cameron did not reply directly, given the seriousness and importance of these issues.“The reply is short and does little more than set out detention policy and make an unsupported assertion that expansion is required in order to meet the ‘strategic objectives of immigration enforcement.’ It is disappointing not to be given more information as to what is meant by ‘strategic objectives’ and how more detention bed space will meet these, given that we have more bed space than ever before, and yet remove fewer people than previously. Instead, the UK appears to be detaining more people unnecessarily, with about half of those detained then being released back into British society. Their detention serves no purpose but is to the therefore serious detriment of the individuals, their friends and family, wider society and the public purse. “Those of us who research, work or volunteer in this sector and who speak with people in detention, know that policy and practice are often two different things in the world of detention. The letter states that detention is always “a last resort” and used where a person has failed to leave voluntarily. However, we routinely speak with people who are detained, often for long periods of time, when they are not at the end of the immigration process or cannot be removed from the UK, often through no fault of their own. I cannot see how creating extra bed space will improve matters. The risk is that it will simply allow people to be ‘warehoused’ in administrative detention for ever longer periods of time.”The Detention Forum, a network of organisations working together to challenge the UK’s use of detention, is also calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the centre, urging others to contact their MPs about stopping what they believe is an ‘ill-advised move by the Home Office’, that will see the detention centre’s capacity more than double from 276 to 566.The Planning Committee for the Campsfield expansion proposals have confirmed the date for considering the expansion of the centre, to be held in Banbury, as 22 January 2015. Prime Minister David Cameron has responded to an open letter from 21 local organizations urging him not to expand Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Kidlington.Calling for the immediate release of all Campsfield detainees and the withdrawal of plans to expand the detention centre, the letter highlighted cases such as the death of one 84 year old detainee who was held despite suffering from dementia and other health problems. Another letter, signed by members of Oxford University’s Amnesty International (OUAI), as well as by nine heads of Oxford colleges, has received no reply as yet. That letter argued, “Not only does the UK not need to be expanding its detention estate, but Campsfield House, which was opened over 20 years ago as a small, 180-bed centre, is an inappropriate site for such major expansion. Instead we call for a reversal of this proposed expansion.”On behalf of the prime minister, The Head of Detention Operations, Immigration Enforcement at the Home Office, Karen Abel-Hady, answered the Stop Campsfield Expansion letter. Having first stated the reasons for the use of detention, the reply then addressed the plans to expand Campsfield, commenting, “The capacity of the immigration detention estate is kept under rolling review. The Home Office has submitted a planning application to expand Campsfield House which, if approved, will provide modern accommodation and facilities for detainees at a location that is owned by the Home Office and meets the strategic objectives of immigration enforcement.”Abdel-Hady’s response went on to defend the Immigration Removal Centre, arguing, “Detention and removal are essential and effective parts of immigration control but it’s vital it’s done with humanity and dignity.”This response has been met with disappointment from those involved in the writing the open letter. Dr Melanie Griffiths, an Oxford researcher working on deportation, immigration detention and the asylum system, tweeted about the letter. Hmmmm. Suffice to say that I’m not entirely persuaded by the #StopCampsfieldExpansion reply. Is basically recap of detention policy.— Melanie BE Griffiths (@MBEGriffiths) December 8, 2014last_img read more

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