AN Oxford MP has urged the Government to keep an immigration removal centre (IRC) at the site of the former Campsfield House closed.

The Home Office has announced it is looking to open a new secure facility for 400 men in late 2023 at the old immigration removal centre in Kidlington.

The previous 282-bed centre was shut in 2018 after years of problems including complaints about the conditions people were held in.

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The IRC would cost £227 million, would house around 400 men, and includes plans to construct a new build living unit alongside refurbishing and remodelling existing accommodation.

However Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has called on the Government to reconsider its proposal dubbing the plans as “costly” and “harmful”.

Oxford Mail: Bill MacKeith with Liz Peretz protesting outside Campsfield House. Bill MacKeith with Liz Peretz protesting outside Campsfield House. (Image: n/a)

Speaking at an adjournment debate in parliament, she said was “grateful for the opportunity to voice the concerns of my community” and that she "urge[s] the government to reconsider its plans".

She continued to tell the minister about the “huge costs” of re-opening Campsfield and detaining 400 people, which could instead “fund over 1,000 new caseworkers to process the growing backlog of asylum claims”.

Ms Moran also shared experiences of those that had been previously detained in Campsfield before it’s closure in 2018 with one detainee saying: “The reality there can feel like you are living in a nightmare”.

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Speaking after the debate Ms Moran said: “I was grateful for the opportunity to voice the concerns of my community in Parliament. 

“Immigration detention is costly, harmful to detainees, and is not an effective tool for reducing illegal migration.

“The Government agreed to reduce the size of the detention estate five years ago, and they have given no clear explanation for this dramatic change in policy.

Oxford Mail: Police in protective gear arrive to tackle trouble at Campsfield House detention centre in Kidlington in 2008.Police in protective gear arrive to tackle trouble at Campsfield House detention centre in Kidlington in 2008. (Image: n/a)

“I and my community have already fought hard for Campsfield House to be closed, and we are ready to fight to make sure it stays that way.

“I urge the Government to reconsider its plans and Keep Campsfield Closed.”

Hari Reed, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at Asylum Welcome, said: “For 25 years, we campaigned locally to close Campsfield in solidarity with those detained. Campsfield was a place of misery and fear and we are determined to ensure that it never reopens. Thank you to Layla for raising our voice in Parliament."

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In 2018 Ms Moran and local campaigners successfully fought for the site to be closed. Multiple concerns were raised at the time about the welfare of detainees and the number of people who were detained and then subsequently released.

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 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.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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