Immigration detention centers in UK to reopen under £399M deal
In a Rwanda-related move, two centers in England may imprison 1,000 male asylum seekers.
In a £399 million project, the Home Office intends to build two immigration detention facilities to house 1,000 male asylum seekers.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman stressed that she will take matters regarding immigration more strictly than her predecessor, Priti Patel, amid plans to increase the use of detention.
Currently, the government runs seven immigration detention facilities, as well as a few short-term holding facilities throughout the UK. According to officials, 3,000 people can be accommodated at once. If the two additional centers are built, the number of people the Home Office may imprison will more than double.
The Campsfield House immigration removal center in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, was set to reopen in June, but information regarding the Haslar center in Gosport, Hampshire, has just recently come to light. In the six-year, £399 million contract to manage and run both centers, the ministers have issued an invitation for expressions of interest.
According to The Guardian, the two centers' opening is especially related to holding asylum seekers prisoners before sending them to Rwanda. The government is spending £120 million on the Rwanda program, plus an additional £20 million. The actual cost of the Rwanda contract has not been disclosed by officials.
Government officials stated that the two new centers would combine renovation and new construction. Officials emphasize that the former prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw's suggestions, who conducted two extensive and harshly critical studies of immigration detention and offered broad ideas for improvement, will be taken into account in the new contract.
Shaw referred to the Home Office's new plans as "disappointing" since they aim to reverse the declining usage of immigration detention, which costs roughly £99 per person every night.
He added, “At a projected cost of £400m, it reverses what had been a clear intention on the part of the government to reduce the use of immigration detention.”
The plans have also been condemned by charities working to support immigration detainees.
The £399 million deal was a "colossal" waste of money, according to Emma Ginn, director of the charity Medical Justice, which supports the health of people in detention. She also noted that 86% of those held in immigration removal centers were not sent back to the UK, "yet all are needlessly put at risk of harm in the process."
She added, “Immigration detention should be eliminated not increased. Ramping up immigration detention means knowingly ramping up the severe harm inflicted on vulnerable people in detention.”
A Home Office spokesperson said, “The government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes by removing foreign criminals who have broken our laws and those with no right to be in the UK. Immigration detention plays a vital role in controlling our borders which the public rightly expects and decisions to detain are made on a case-by-case basis."
The spokesperson added, “The dignity and welfare of those in immigration detention is of the utmost importance and we have established policies, procedures and trained professionals in place at every immigration removal centre to safeguard individuals and support their physical and mental health.”
Rwanda deportation plan
A plan tailored by the British government to deport asylum-seekers of various nationalities to Rwanda was approved by a UK court on June 14 after the appeals court refused to block the plan criticized as inhumane.
Lawyers had been working on behalf of asylum-seekers who were informed they would be deported to Rwanda to prevent London from taking them to a third country, taking the battle to the high court after they were given the grounds to reject their injunction on Friday.
The first aircraft taking asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of a contentious UK policy was canceled on June 15, dealing severe embarrassment to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson's administration.
The number of people scheduled to board the flight had been reduced from 130 to seven, and then to none owing to a last-minute judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).