A CONTROVERSIAL Oxfordshire detention centre is set to close next year, the government has announced.

Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre near Kidlington will shut in May 2019 when the current contract period expires.

Earlier this year the centre was branded a 'racist prison' by the Campaign to Close Campsfield group who have been calling for its closure since 1994.

The 216-bed facility is a long-term detention centre where detainees are kept until their case is resolved and they are removed from the country.

The news was revealed in a letter from Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes to Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran.

Ms Moran, who has campaigned for the camp's closure, said: "This is very welcome, if overdue, news.

“It was a source of shame for Kidlington and Oxfordshire that people fleeing war, persecution and torture were being detained indefinitely on our doorstep.

“I’d like to thank all those involved in the Close Campsfield campaign for their years of hard work and to all those who volunteered to make sure that conditions for those being held in Campsfield were decent and humane.

“I’ll continue to campaign to get the government to stop locking people up without any idea of when they will be released, but am glad that this will no longer be taking place at Campsfield after May next year.”

A spokesperson for the Campaign to Close Campsfield said: "While we welcome the closure of Campsfield House we would like to learn of plans for the other IRCs in the detention estate.

"As long as people are being detained under immigration rules we will continue to argue for judicial oversight of the decision to detain and a clear time limit (28 days) and no redetention.

"We hope that this decision marks a move towards changing the hostile environment and treating people with respect and dignity.”

The findings of an independent report on the centre published in June were generally positive, however, several areas of concern were highlighted including healthcare and the length of detentions.