Liberal Democrat candidates for parts of Oxfordshire are campaigning to keep an immigration detention centre in Kidlington closed.  

Layla Moran and Calum Miller, Liberal Democrat candidates for Oxford West and Abingdon as well as Bicester and Woodstock, have spoken out after the Home Office awarded a contract for construction work earlier this month. 

Mr Miller said Campsfield House had been a "place of misery and fear". 

He said: "I am determined to ensure that it never reopens.” 

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Campsfield House opened in 1993 and closed following significant local protest in 2017.

The centre is now set to reopen after the Home Office awarded a £70 million contract to a construction company, Building Southern, for works on the site. 

This followed a 2022 announcement of Conservative government plans to reopen the detention centre, with the initial value of the contract estimated at £170 million. 

Ms Moran and Mr Miller said, when the centre was previously open, it was the site of riots, fires, escapes, and several detainees died by suicide.

They claimed, while the site was intended for short stays, there was also evidence that detainees were held at the centre for excessive periods, some for up to three years.

Campsfield House Campsfield House A Liberal Democrats spokesperson said the party had been "closely involved" in the community campaign to close the centre, and had been vocal in their opposition to the plans for it to reopen. 

Ms Moran, MP candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, previously held a debate in Parliament and met with Home Office ministers to discuss local concerns over the plans.

She Moran said: “Immigration detention is cruel, ineffective, costly and will have enormous impacts for our local community.

"Instead of spending taxpayers’ money expanding the detention estate and continuing the inhumane practice of indefinite detention, they should be using it to speed up the processing of asylum claims.

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

"If re-elected as MP for Oxford West and Abingdon I will urge the government to keep Campsfield closed.”

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Mr Miller said: “The asylum system in the UK is completely broken.

"We all want to stop the dangerous Channel crossings and tackle the criminal gangs who profit from people smuggling and human trafficking. 

“The best way to prevent refugees from attempting these perilous journeys is to provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary, not spending hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money to detain a few hundred asylum seekers."

A Home Office factsheet on the Campsfield site said the government was committed to a "fair and humane immigration policy that welcomes those here who use legal routes, but tackles abuse and makes our streets safer".

The Home Office said: "Immigration removal centres (IRCs) provide safe, secure and fit for purpose detained accommodation for people who are subject to removal from the UK."

Other candidates for Oxford West and Abingdon alongside Ms Moran are: Anni Byard - Social Democratic Party; Chris Goodall - Green Party; James Gunn - Reform UK; Josh Phillips - Independent; Vinay Raniga - Conservative Party; Ian Shelley - Christian Peoples Alliance; Stephen Webb - Labour Party.

Other candidates for Bicester and Woodstock are: Tim Funnell, Social Democratic Party; Rupert Harrison, Conservative; Ian Middleton, Green; Augustine Obodo, Reform UK.