A CAMPAIGN group has been formed to oppose Home Office plans to re-open and expand the former Haslar immigration removal centre – IRC – in Gosport to accommodate 600 detainees.
No Detention No Haslar is a grassroots campaign led by local residents with input and support from national organisations to challenge the government policy of sending refugees to Rwanda (upon which the expansion of immigration detention is predicated), the arbitrary use of administrative detention and the enormous public expenditure which such an expansion requires.
A spokesperson for the Gosport-based group said today, Friday, February 3: “The government’s punitive Rwanda policy is deeply immoral and most likely illegal under international law and should be scrapped. It will not stop desperate refugees making the dangerous Channel crossing. If the government is really serious about ‘destroying the business model of the people traffickers’ then there are effective alternatives which are humane and less costly.”
The Home Office held a ‘drop-in’ information session on its proposal at the Stokes Bay Golf Club on Thursday, January 19. Gosport MP Dame Caroline Dinenage had reportedly asked the Home Office to hold a proper public presentation and question-and-answer session on the proposal with media in attendance, but the request was turned down.
The Haslar expansion plans, which claim a large area of grassland to the west of the existing site, are clearly at an early stage, and Home Office officials at the drop-in were unable to say how much the refurbishment (Phase 1) and expansion (Phase 2) would cost.
According to the No Detention No Haslar spokesperson: “Committing millions of pounds of capital expenditure to prepare for an ineffective scheme which may never become operational is an unforgivable waste of public funds and amounts to nothing more than political ‘virtue signalling’ by the Home Secretary [currently Fareham MP Suella Braverman] at taxpayers’ expense.
“The government failed to do any proper consultation prior to the decision to re-open Haslar, and the money would be much better spent on projects which actually benefit Gosport residents or improve asylum decision-making. For example, the Haslar site could be converted into a hospital, a recreation facility, a veterans’ village or much needed affordable housing.
“No Detention No Haslar therefore calls upon the government to abandon the shameful policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda, cancel the expansion of the detention estate before any money is wasted, and create safe and legal routes for refugees to reach the UK.”
PICTURED ABOVE: The No Detention No Haslar logo currently being used by campaigners in Gosport