Campsfield House: Council leader says immigration centre 'dehumanises refugees'

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Campsfield House
Image caption,
More than 3,600 individuals passed through Campsfield House in 2017

The reopening of an immigration detention centre would be "inhumane", councillors have said.

Oxford City Council has released a statement reacting to news Campsfield House in Kidlington could reopen.

The centre was shut in 2018 after years of problems, including riots, escapes and complaints about conditions.

It comes after MP Layla Moran said the community would be "incredibly dismayed" after previously winning their fight to get the facility closed.

The Home Office previously told the BBC it would talk to interested parties about the plans.

In a statement, city council leader Susan Brown and councillor Shaista Aziz said Oxford was "a proud city of sanctuary" with "a long record of standing in solidarity with all refugees."

They added: "The government's decision to reopen Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre is wrong and inhumane and further demonises refugees and negatively impacts communities across our city.

"It creates an atmosphere of fear, mistrust, and further divides people and communities at a time when people are facing huge challenges in their day to day lives - the exact opposite is needed."

Image caption,
Oxford City Council leader, Susan Brown, said reopening the immigration centre would be "wrong and inhumane"

The new facility, which could accommodate up to 400 male detainees, is not expected to open until at least late 2023.

It used to house a range of people, mainly asylum seekers and foreign national offenders.

Ms Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, previously said: "This disgraceful decision reflects at best a failure of policy and at worst complete heartlessness from the Home Office."

Image caption,
Layla Moran called the closure in 2018 a 'pivotal moment'

Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove, previously told the BBC those who had abused the immigration system "should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them."

He added: "Opening a new immigration removal centre, as part of the New Plan for Immigration, will help ensure there is sufficient detention capacity to safely accommodate individuals ahead of removal."

The Home Office also previously said the welfare of future detainees would be of the "utmost importance".

The department has been approached by the BBC for further comment.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The final inspection of the 282-bed facility before it shut found that 41% of its detainees felt unsafe

In Oxford City Council's statement, Ms Brown said the facility "should stay closed".

"Campsfield saw hunger strikes, self-harm and even suicide before it closed.

"Oxford City Council is unequivocally opposed to the re-opening of Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre and calls on the government to create a fair, humane and compassionate immigration system."

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