Stop plans to expand Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre statement
The government has announced plans to transform Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre into a 566-bed mega-centre, making it one of the largest detention centres in Europe. We, as local organisations, many of which work with migrants and refugees, are worried about this proposal. Our immigration detention system is unjust and inhumane, for individuals detained as well as their families, and has high financial costs for the country. Not only does the UK not need to be further expanding its detention estate, but Campsfield House, which was opened over 20 years ago as a small, 200 bed centre, is an inappropriate site for major expansion.
There is considerable evidence showing that immigration detention has adverse, long-term impacts on people’s mental health. Part of the harm is the uncertainty of the process. The UK is unique in Europe for detaining people without a time limit, not due to a conviction, but simply for administrative purposes. The lack of a time frame and other aspects of our detention system have been criticised by a range of national and international bodies.[i] Indeed, our own courts have repeatedly found that a person’s detention has reached the high threshold amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.[ii]
Detention is not the answer to concerns about migration, which are in any case controversial. An extra 800 detention bed spaces have already been created in the UK this year, bringing the total to over 5,000. We have more detention spaces then we have ever had and yet removals are at an all-time low.[iii] Detention is extremely expensive, with millions of pounds wasted detaining people who are ultimately released.[iv] Rather than pump in more money, we should investigate alternatives to detention, which would be better for both migrants and the taxpayer.
Locking people up indefinitely wastes lives, is unjust and is contrary to British values.
For further information contact:
Dr Melanie Griffiths, email@example.com
07971 493 750
[i] For example, in a 2012 joint report, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration criticised the Home Office’s decision-making around the use of detention for being inefficient and of poor quality. Last year the UN Committee against Torture urged the UK to stop detaining people indefinitely. This echoed the recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, who in 2008 also called on the UK to drastically limit the administrative detention of migrants.
[ii] Over the last three years, the High Court has on five occasions found that the prolonged detention of mentally disordered detainees amounted to breaches the Article 3 prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment of the European Convention on Human Rights.
[iii] Since 2008, the numbers of migrants in detention have increased by 35%, yet numbers of enforced removals have actually declined by 24%. I.e. enforced removals fell from 17,239 in 2008 to 13,051 in 2013. The proportion of detainees being removed from the country declined further again in 2014. Rather than being removed or deported, a high and growing proportion of immigration detainees end up being released from detention to go back into the community, raising the question as to whether they should have been detained in the first place. According to Home Office statistics, between April and June 2014, 36% of detainees were granted temporary admission or release. The longer people are detained, the more likely they are to be released rather than removed/deported.
[iv] Some migrants cannot be returned to their own country, for no fault of their own (e.g. their embassy will not issue emergency travel documents, the conditions in their country are too unsafe). If the Home Office released such people earlier, the equivalent of three detention centres could be shut without reducing the number of people removed from the country. Independent researchers Matrix Evidence found that the UK wastes £76 million a year on the unnecessary long-term detention of people who are ultimately released. This includes huge sums paid in compensation for unlawful detention (£12 million in 2009-10).
The Bail Observation Project
Dr Barbara E. Harrell-Bond OBE
Campaign to Close Campsfield
City of Sanctuary
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Oxford
Headington Quaker Meeting
Network of Oxfordshire Women for Peace and Justice
Oxford and District Labour Party
Oxford and District Trades Union Council
Oxford City Amnesty International
Oxford Migrant Solidarity
Oxford Quaker Meeting
Oxford Ruskin College branch, University and College Union
Oxfordshire Green Party
Oxford South Asia Forum
Oxford University Amnesty International
Oxford West and Abingdon Liberal Democrats
Sea Green Singers