UNIVERSITY college heads have written to the Prime Minister criticising plans to expand Campsfield House immigration centre.

Nine heads of Oxford University colleges and 61 other senior academics have opposed the move for the facility near Kidlington.

The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice is seeking a 290-bed extension to the 276-bed Langford Lane centre, which opened in 1993.

The centre is for men who have been through the immigration process, are going through on appeal or are criminals awaiting removal from the UK.

Our top stories

Signatories include Principal of Hertford College Will Hutton and Principal of Mansfield College Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.


Oxford Mail:

  • Will Hutton

The letter said: “We are greatly concerned about the Government’s plans to transform Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre into a 580-bed mega-centre, making it one of the largest detention centres in Europe.

“Not only does the UK not need to be expanding its detention estate, but Campsfield House, which was opened over 20 years ago as a small, 180-bed centre, is an inappropriate site for such major expansion.

“Instead we call for a reversal of this proposed expansion.”

It said people in the facility had been detained “for many months, even years, before being released or deported” and rules on who was detained appeared “arbitrary”.

Oxford Mail:

  • Hermione Lee

The letter has been co-ordinated by Oxford University Amnesty International group, whose members will stage a “flashmob” by holding up giant copies of the letter at an undisclosed city location at noon today.

Spokesman Jo Hynes said: “The UK detains more migrants, for longer and with less judicial oversight than any other country in Europe, yet the facts are clear: immigration detention doesn’t act as a deterrent to immigration and contravenes basic human rights.”

The group was among 21 signatories of a statement released earlier this month criticising the “unjust” plans. Oxford and District Labour Party, Oxford and District Trades Union Council and Oxford Quaker Meeting were others.

Oxford Mail:

Home Office spokesman Richard Crow said: “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 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.”

Cherwell District Council will have a final say on the plans.


  • Prof Roger Ainsworth, Master of St Catherine’s College 
  • Prof Alan Bowman, Principal of Brasenose College
  • Prof Richard Cawardine, President of Corpus Christi College 
  • Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Principal of Mansfield College 
  • Dame Hermione Lee, President of Wolfson College 
  • The Very Rev Christopher Lewis, Dean of Christchurch College 
  • Lord Ken Macdonald QC, Warden of Wadham College 
  • Dr Alice Prochaska, Principal of Somerville College 


  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.