In response to the Oxford academics’ letter, the Home Office gave the following statement:
“Immigration removal centres play an important role in our work to remove people who have no right to remain in the UK and it is right that we have the adequate facilities in place.
“Detention is used as a last resort when people will not leave voluntarily or when there is a serious risk they will abscond from bail. When we do detain people it is for the minimum time possible and the majority of detainees are held for less than two months.
“A final decision is yet to be taken about the future of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre.”
This Home Office statement is a reflex response and does not reflect any proper consideration of the numerous representations being made by people and organisations in and around Oxford calling for the release of people detained in Campsfield and for its proposed expansion to be halted, and for its closure.
We shall be pleased if that the statement that “A final decision is yet to be taken about the future of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre” means that the Home Office is listening and will withdraw its application to expand detention at Campsfield or elsewhere, close Campsfield,and will give meaningful consideration, with results, to the call by bodies such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe to implement non-punitive alternatives to immigration detention.
In response to specific claims in the Home Office statement: Many people held in immigration detention eventually obtain the right to remain and should not have been detained held at all.
Given the falling numbers of people being deported and the rapidly increasing numbers of detention places, there is no case for the expansion of detention at Campsfield, even on the government’s terms.
Many reports have shown that
- immigration detention is clearly routinely used not as a last resort.
- many people are detained for months or even years longer than is necessary to meet the government’s stated purposes.
If the majority of detainees are held for less than two months, then large numbers of the 30,000 detained each year are held for longer, which is surely more than is required to meet government’s stated requirements to ascertain identity or hold people prior to imminent detention.
The statement that ‘All detention is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it only lasts as long as it continues to be justified and necessary’ is far from the experience of many if not most detainees.