Glasgow & West Scotland

Protesters at Dungavel call for end to immigration detention

Protesters have called for an end to the detention of immigrants during a demonstration at Scotland's only immigration removal centre.

Trade union groups, human rights campaigners and religious organisations held the protest outside Dungavel.

About 400 people, many with banners, gathered at the centre in South Lanarkshire to hear speakers including STUC president Lawrence Wason.

Police said the event passed off peacefully with no arrests.

Other speakers including the Reverend Sally Foster Fulton from the Church of Scotland and human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar also addressed the crowd.

Mr Wason said: "We want to see an end to detention. We want to see a different, more humane immigration system, and we want to see the UK living up to its global responsibilities and providing safe haven for those who need it.

"The people behind these walls are not a threat to our country. They are just people looking for a better life. We can have an asylum system without the need for detention."

'Last resort'

The STUC recently called for meetings with detainees over concerns that some may have been on hunger strike, and in March wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May about the matter.

The request was denied and the organisation was refused access by the Home Office.

The request came after figures obtained by BBC Scotland revealed dozens of detainees have been held at Dungavel for many months and, in some cases, more than a year.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the home secretary had commissioned an independent review of detainees' welfare, which is due to be completed in the autumn.

She added: "Detention and removal are essential parts of effective immigration controls. It is vital these are carried out with dignity and respect and we take the welfare of our detainees very seriously.

"Detention is only ever used as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible, after all attempts to encourage individuals to leave voluntarily have failed."

More on this story