Plan to house asylum seekers at Crawley Forest School

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Plans have been put forward to turn a school in West Sussex into a secure location for failed asylum seekers.

The UK Border Agency is considering housing families at Crawley Forest School in Pease Pottage near Crawley when it closes in April.

The plan is part of the government's commitment to stop holding the children of asylum seekers in detention centres.

Some residents have expressed concern at the proposals for the site, which is close to Gatwick Airport.

One resident told BBC Sussex: "I don't like the idea of living next door to somebody who's just about to be deported."

Under the proposal, families would stay in secure housing while they wait to be deported, but their children would be allowed out with minders.

The UK Border Agency said: "Only a small number of families will be held there, and where they do not pose a risk to public safety.

'Detention by another name'

"Children may be allowed to leave for short periods following a risk assessment and with suitable supervision."

Celia Clark is the director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, a charity which challenges the detention of asylum seekers.

She said: "We were delighted when the government announced they would end immigration detention for children.

"We are less delighted with the proposed new accommodation centres that we are worried will be detention by another name."

But the South East MEP and UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said he thought secure accommodation was necessary.

He said: "Frankly, if we have the choice on the one hand of keeping people in secure locations until they go, or on the other saying a free-for-all, I know which one of those I'd choose.

"I'm quite sure if we had a referendum in Pease Pottage what people would say as well."

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