GOSPORT could be the location for a second closed immigration removal centre reopening in the south of England next year.
According to a report on the BBC website’s Local News page, the Home Office plans to refurbish the Haslar IRC to house 600 men before they are removed from the UK.
However, experts have said immigration detention can be damaging for people and reopening sites is a departure from previous government policy.
The Home Office said there are measures to ensure people’s dignity and welfare.
Haslar IRC, which was closed in 2015, is the second facility the government is planning to reopen as part of its goal of “tackling illegal immigration”.
In June, plans were announced to reopen Campsfield House in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, which shut in 2018 after years of problems, including riots, escapes and complaints about conditions.
According to a Home Office contract notice published on September 21, both facilities would reopen at the end of 2023 and house a total of 1,000 men between them.
But Rob McNeil, Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “The reopening of [IRCs]… is a notable change of direction from the government’s previous policy to reduce the number of people held in detention.”
And he said the reduction of IRCs followed a 2015 parliamentary review, “highlighting that immigration detention had been expensive and damaging to detainees”.
Mr McNeil added that “increasing the number of immigration detention places available does not automatically mean larger numbers of people will be removed”.
Emma Ginn, Director of the charity Medical Justice, which works for the health rights of immigration detainees, also expressed concern at the news.
“Ramping up immigration detention means ramping up the severe harm inflicted on vulnerable people in detention, knowingly,” she said.
“Eighty-six percent of those detained in immigration removal centres are not actually removed from the UK, yet all are needlessly put at risk of harm in the process.”
The Home Office told the BBC: “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.”
Article provided by BBC News