Campsfield Expansion – updated

The Home Office have announced that they’re soon going to submit a planning application to expand Campsfield. We haven’t seen the application so we don’t know what their plans are. But here are three reasons why we think the government shouldn’t be trying to expand immigration detention facilities.

1) It’s wrong to lock up people who aren’t serving a sentence for a crime and who aren’t waiting to be tried for one; immigration detention is harmful to those detained and causes unnecessary suffering.

2) Locking up asylum seekers and other migrants doesn’t do what the government says it does: deter future migrants.

3) Fewer people are being deported despite the growth in detention centres, so expanding Campsfield is clearly not ‘necessary’ from the government’s point of view. It would be throwing money at a need which doesn’t exist.

If you are interested in joining the campaign to stop the doubling of the size of Campsfield, email closecampsfield@riseup.net
or call 01865 558145

Public exhibition notice

UPDATE 24 September 2014 –  The planning application still hasn’t been submitted yet but opposition is building, see the comments from the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon (the constituency that includes Campsfield) and the other candidates for the seat:

Nicola Blackwood MP has said “This proposal makes no sense for Kidlington or for our immigration system. We should be looking for alternatives to detention rather than expanding our detention programme and Campsfield House in particular has already struggled to manage with its existing numbers resulting in a series of serious incidents… I am quite clear that doubling the size of Campsfield would be wrong for Kidlington and wrong for detainees.” (Source: online petition)

Sally Copley has said “It’s clearly wrong to detain at all people who are not criminals but instead are fleeing conflict, let alone indefinitely. The Home Office have not made a satisfactory case for why they want to extend Campsfield House, and it’s a shame the District Council are only allowed to consider this on planning grounds, as there are strong humanitarian reasons for rejecting it.” (Source: quote given to Campaign to Close Campsfield.)
Layla Moran has said “We should be aiming to close the centre, not expand it… if the moral grounds for not expanding weren’t enough, in the UK the number of people being deported in the UK is in fact declining. Expanding Campsfield now makes no sense in this climate. Given that we are deporting fewer people we need to be aiming to detain fewer too. (Source: The Vulnerable Deserve To Be Treated With Compassion, Oxford Mail, 11/9/14)

 

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August protest to call for end to unjust blockade of Gaza and unjust detention of refugees

PRESS RELEASE         27 August 2014

The monthly protest organized by the Campaign to Close Campsfield will this Saturday highlight the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and refugees in British detention centres. As well as calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the protest will call on the British government to recognise the rights of refugees in this country. Campaigners will argue that Britain cannot help to solve conflicts around the world whilst it denies people justice at home.

A spokesperson for the campaign said:
“Gaza has become a prison. Its inhabitants are denied the rights of citizenship, and then punished for it. Meanwhile every immigration detention centre in Britain is a Gaza in our own country. No-one in a detention centre is serving a sentence for a crime. Instead, they are locked up for not having the rights we refuse to give them. The Israeli government could not treat its own citizens the way it treats Palestinians, and our government could not treat its own citizens the way it treats refugees. No-one is illegal. Neither a Palestinian in Gaza nor a refugee in Britain should be imprisoned just because of their nationality. If we value our own freedoms, we should value those who are denied justice in the middle east and those who are denied justice in our own country.”

Inquires to Austen Saunders – austensaunders@gmail.com – 07753390767

Notes to editors

  • Campsfield House opened in 1993.
  • It is a privately run detention centre Campsfield is run by Mitie, the outsourcing company, on behalf of the Home Office
  • The Campaign to Close Campsfield is a local group which, since the centre opened, has campaigned to close the centre and protect the rights of inmates whilst the centre remains open.
  • A monthly protest takes place on the last Saturday of every month, 12 noon to 2pm at Campsfield House main gates, Langford Lane, Kidlington.

Shareholders challenge Mitie over Campsfield Detention Centre

Belated posting of press release issued on 10 July 2014

At the AGM of Mitie held in London on 9 July, shareholders challenged management over conditions in Campsfield House.

The Reverend Robert Nind (see full text of his statement below) challenged:

a) Mitie’s acceptance of the contract to take over the running of Campsfield despite the Home Office refusing to put in sprinklers, as strongly advised by Oxon Chief Fire Officer. (The destructive and life-threatening fire of last October was the result.)

b) Their acceptance of the Home Office directive to pay detainees no more than £5 a day, as if they could be treated the same way as a convicted criminal.

c) Their failure to raise any objections to the Home Office decisions when Rule 35 referrals from Campsfield, about vulnerable individuals who should not be detained, were ignored or rejected by the Home Office.

Bill MacKeith, speaking on behalf of the Campaign to Close Campsfield, said: ‘Mitie has bowed down to the will of the Home Office when signing the contract by accepting the Home Office criteria. A firm with a reputation to keep cannot do that. Our argument is that any deal with the Home Office to detain innocent people indefinitely without judicial oversight means accepting a poisoned chalice.’

Notes to editors

  • Campsfield House opened in 1993.
  • It is a privately run detention centre Campsfield is run by Mitie, the outsourcing company, on behalf of the Home Office
  • Mitie will soon take over running detention centres at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook which will be combined into a single unit.
  • Previous controversies at Campsfield include many hunger strikes and other protests by detainees and a 2004 report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons condemning conditions.
  • The Campaign to Close Campsfield is a local group which, since the centre opened, has campaigned to close the centre and protect the rights of inmates whilst the centre remains open.

 

Appendix: Full text of the Statement made by the Reverend Robert Nind at the 2014 Annual General Meeting of Mitie plc      

Since last year’s AGM I wish to record my appreciation for the work of Danny Spencer and Paul Morrison in establishing an External Stakeholders Meeting at Campsfield House IRC twice a year. This has enabled Medical Justice Oxford along with those who support and train detainees in preparing for their bail applications, as well as Stella and myself on behalf of the Churches Council for Corporate Responsibility, to raise questions of concern with the Centre Management.

Although Management and ourselves represent totally opposed views on the matter of migrant detention, we can share a mutual concern for the conditions and processes in which these escapees from prison and murder in their own lands, are being treated here. What we have discussed in this Stakeholder Meeting needs no further airing in this AGM, since we met only 3 weeks ago.

We await Minutes and outcomes under the authority of Neil Aubeelack, your new Centre Manager to whom we were pleased to be introduced.

Nevertheless it will remain a mystery to me, as to why a Company which employs and manages a workforce of more than 70,000 persons, in areas of its original expertise, should also want to drink from a poisoned chalice proffered by the Home Office.

That poisoned chalice is, to any who know about it, the detention of migrants fleeing death or destitution; and, along with them, those convicted of crime in this country who have completed their sentence and should have had their cases sorted out before they were released from prison.

It is a poisoned chalice because MITIE plc is thereby implicated in what any person, once briefed on the facts, rejects as inhumane. To participate in this does no more good for the reputation of MITIE than it has for SERCO, G4S or GEO.

And yet, having won the contracts, you are from September about to take over Harmondsworth and Colnbrook , uniting them and renaming them, I understand, as Heathrow IRC: and in addition you are seeking to double the size of Campsfield if planning permission is obtained. This will only destroy what has made life inside Campsfield more tolerable for inmates recently, namely SPACE, paradoxically as a consequence of the fire. Once again the enlarged Mosque, the Study and Recreational and Accommodation areas will be overcrowded. It will become like a London rush hour station, all services under enormous pressure, as difficult for staff as for detainees.

I shall end with 3 illustrations of what I mean by the poisoned chalice, the result of not challenging Home Office decisions when signing the Campsfield contract.

1). The first is now history; but looking back the Board must conclude that it was insane to agree to accept management of a building which the Fire Officers had warned was a major danger to life unless sprinklers had been fitted, as in all hostelries and public buildings, most especially one that incarcerates desperate people. You, a Plant Management Company of experience, accepted it without insisting that this should be done: – because the Home Office said ‘No’.

2). Because the Home Office fixed the wage level at £5 a day for tasks which occupy a detainee for some 6 hours you accepted it, though you know it does your reputation no good. Campsfield inmates are not prisoners; most have no criminal record apart from entering the country without the correct papers; and those who do have a criminal record have served their sentence. Of course £5 a day may seem better than no pounds a day and no job; but it is still exploitation and should have been argued against at time of contract with the Home Office.

3). Lastly, from the Home Office regulations, rule 35, which defines those who should not be detained: – such as victims of torture or rape, those suffering from some mental illness or physically challenging condition which is beyond the care of the Health Centre. After inquiry Paul Morrison informed the stakeholder group in January that the Campsfield medical staff had made 45 Rule 35 referrals to the Home Office caseworkers, which were acknowledged. We have yet to be told whether any of them were released. If they were not, then it raises serious questions about the standard of care you are ready to accept from a Home Office, whose staff seem to have little conscience about breaking their own rules.

You in ‘Care and Custody’ must be disturbed and far better informed than shareholders will ever be as to the ill informed actions or inactions of Home Office caseworkers. The complicity between Companies and the Home Office at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth in ignoring detainees’ health and human rights has been widely publicised. I hope that, unlike your predecessors, you will not only stick to the rules but also query the judgements of caseworkers – who will never meet their clients, as your own medical staff do.

ARE REFUGEES WELCOME HERE?

As part of Oxford Refugee Week (16th – 22nd June 2014), the Campaign to Close Campsfield is holding a public meeting on Monday 16th June, 7pm at Oxford Town Hall:
‘Are refugees welcome here? If not, what can we do about it?’

Speakers include:
Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo, barrister at Garden Court Chambers: The law and being a refugee in the UK
Child psychiatrist Dr Mina Fazel, NIHR post-doctoral research fellow, Oxford University Department of Psychiatry: The mental health of newly arrived refugee and asylum-seeking children
Psychology and law trainer Clare Cochrane, Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law: Research which challenges the culture of disbelief in the UK

Public meeting Are Refugees Welcome here 16 June 2014Public meeting – Are Refugees Welcome Here? 16 June 2014

 

Press statement: hunger strike ended at Campsfield‏

PRESS RELEASE 14 May 2014

The hunger strike protest at Campsfield ended on Saturday after 3
days. An outbreak of flu was a contributing factor.

The demand of the protesting detainees was to close all immigration
detention centres in the UK.

hungerstrikersdemand2014

A number of other issues were raised by a Campsfield detainees’
spokesperson in an interview available on Youtube:

Open Democracy article:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jasmine-sallis/neither-criminals-nor-animals-week-of-unrest-in-britains-migrant-jails

We thank the detainees for raising these issues, which we shall
pursue. We continue in close contact with the detainees.

Campaign to Close Campsfield tel. 01865 558145 /01993 703994

PRESS RELEASE Campsfield detainees go on hunger strike as protests by immigration detainees spread

PRESS RELEASE 7 May 2014

Once again, detainees at Campsfield are on hunger strike.

The hunger strike began this morning (7th May) with the simple demand
to close all immigration detention centres in the United Kingdom.
Detainees believe their detention is a breach of their human rights.

More than 50 detainees are partaking, which includes many
nationalities including several Arabic speaking countries as well as
Chinese.

Hunger striker Mr A said: ‘All of our friends want medias
support. Authorities do not want to listen to us. Thankyou.’

On Friday (2 May) over 150 detainees in Harmondsworth migrant prison
near Heathrow airport occupied the main courtyard in a sit down
protest and began a mass hunger strike. Their demands:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/222052881/Letter-to-Home-Office-From-Asylum-Detainees-on-hunger-strike-in-Harmondsworth-detention-centre

Yesterday (Tuesday 6 May) in Colnbrook detention centre, right next to
Harmondsworth, guards broke up an organising meeting of 40 detainees
and put five ‘ringleaders’ in isolation cells, before moving them to
another secure facility. Supporters have since been unable to contact
the men.

Then at 10pm last (Tuesday) night a group of 20 men detained at Brook
House IRC near Gatwick staged a protest in the courtyard and refused
to return to their cells.

NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THE 20 YEARS SINCE CAMPSFIELD OPENED:

16.04.98: Sir David Ramsbotham, chief inspector of prisons, publishes
his report on Campsfield, which states that ‘it is abundantly clear’
that ‘there is little or no consistency, or logic, in current
arrangements for deciding upon detention’ (§I-25).

17/4/98: ‘Campsfield is an abomination to human rights in that it
presumes guilt from the outset. Today those loyal protesters who have
been branded as cranks and soft-centred do-gooders have been proved
right.’ – From the Oxford Mail

Campaign to Close Campsfield: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577

There will be a demo tomorrow (Thursday 8 May) at Campsfield gates at 6pm.

Former Campsfield detainee sentenced to 32 months prison after admitting arson

PRESS RELEASE 1 April 2014

Former Campsfield detainee sentenced to 32 months prison after admitting arson

Farid Pardiaz, 25, from Afghanistan was sentenced today by Judge Mowat
in Oxford Crown Court to 32 months in prison after pleading guilty to
committing simple arson at Campsfield detention centre on 18 October
2013.

Judge Mowat stated that Mr Pardiaz appeared to have had mixed motives
for setting light to bedding in his room, from which fire spread into
the roof space of Blue Block at the centre. He had wished both to kill
himself and also to show the authorities how strongly he felt that he
should not be returned to Afghanistan, where he feared for his life.

Judge Mowat accepted that Mr Pardiaz had not meant to cause the damage
and losses estimated by outgoing centre manager Paul Morrison of
Mitie, which runs the centre, as mounting to over £900,000, but she
nevertheless had to take the high cost into account in deciding the
sentence.

No mention was made by judge in sentencing or by defence of the fact
that Mr Pardiaz had been refused a request to see a doctor in the days
running up to the fire, when, as a psychiatric report stated, Mr
Pardiaz was experiencing a depressive episode. Nor was it mentioned
that very little damage at all would have been caused if the Home
Office had carried out the recommendations of the Oxon Fire Service
and fitted sprinklers in the centre – a fact for which the Home Office
alone bears the responsibility.

After he has served his time, which with remission and time already
served may be some 12-15 months, the government will seek to deport Mr
Pardiaz, who is currently held in Bullingdon Prison.

Contacts: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577