Campaigners deplore government announcement to reopen Campsfield

Oxford anti-detention campaigners have denounced the government announcement yesterday that it intends to redevelop and reopen Campsfield immigration detention centre in Kidlington north of Oxford.

They argue that:

  • It’s cruel – more detention means more years of uncertainty for detainees, misery, mental ill health, hunger strikes, self-harm and possible suicides.
  • It’s a reversal of the Conservative policy, announced in 2017 by the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid, to detain fewer for shorter periods and develop community-based alternatives to detention.
  • It’s hypocritical: ‘The welfare of all those in immigration detention is of the upmost importance. We will therefore take into account Stephen Shaw’s reviews on welfare in detention as Campsfield is redeveloped’ (govt. statement) – The government’s own Shaw Review labelled conditions in detention centres unsafe, with thousands of vulnerable people detained for prolonged periods.
  • The policy behind the announcement is ineffective: it won’t stop migrants including asylum seekers coming to the UK. Government figures show that a great majority of people detained eventually win the right to stay: so there was no point in their detention.
  • Will it happen? It is early days yet. The government has to make a new-build planning application to Cherwell District Council, which turned down an application to expand Campsfield in 2016.

OAID organiser Bill MacKeith said:

25 years of protests by detainees and others campaigning led to the closure of Campsfield in 2018 and Oxfordshire people are not going to accept it reopening.

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