8 September 2016: The controversial Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre in Lanarkshire is to be closed, the Home Office has announced.
The centre, near Strathaven, is set to close towards the end of 2017.
The Home Office said it would look to build a new short-term holding facility near Glasgow Airport.
Dungavel opened in 2001 and can hold up to 249 detainees. It is the only such centre in Scotland and has been the subject of numerous protests, which branded the site “racist and inhumane”.
Comment: People have been shipped up and down over the border which disrupts their place and claim in the asylum process because the law is different in Scotland from England.
Dungavel currently holds up to 249 men and women.
This follows the Government’s announcement of a programme of detention reform, which it expects to lead to a reduction in numbers of migrants detained.
Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said:
“We keep our detention estate under constant review to ensure we have the right resources in the right places.
“The new short-term holding facility would provide easy access to London airports, from where most removals take place, meaning those with no right to be in the UK can be removed with less delay.
“Closing Dungavel immigration removal centre as a consequence fits with that approach and will result in a significant saving for the public purse.”
Detention Action Director Jerome Phelps said:
“The closure of Dungavel is an important step towards the Government’s intention of reducing the numbers of migrants who are detained.
“But it does not go far enough. New detention places planned elsewhere mean that this will reduce the size of the British detention estate by only around 100 places, in 15 months time – but more than 3,000 migrants are in detention now. After the repeated condemnation of the Home Office’s overuse of detention by the courts and the Home Secretary’s own review, more urgent and radical action is needed.
“There are serious questions about the plans to transfer migrants after seven days from Glasgow Airport to Immigration Removal Centres in England. People could be forced to abandon legal challenges in the Scottish courts, and start again with new solicitors in the English courts. The Government should give a clear commitment not to detain in England migrants with pending asylum or immigration claims in Scotland, other than in exceptional circumstances.”
Scottish Refugee Council: Our statement on Dungavel closure announcement
Today the Home Office has announced that it is to close Scotland’s Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre in 2017 and that it will build a new short-term holding facility near Glasgow Airport.
Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council’s Head of Communications, said:
“Indefinite detention for immigration purposes is a UK scandal. While we are pleased to hear that this will no longer take place in Scotland, an end to long-term immigration detention must happen across the whole of the UK.
“The UK is alone among EU countries in imposing the cruel and unnecessary system of indefinite detention. We know that being detained without a release date causes extreme distress. People who have experienced torture and human rights abuses in their home countries are at significant risk when detained indefinitely in the UK. It is also extremely ineffective. More than three quarters of those leaving detention in Dungavel were released back into the community last year.
“We want swift assurances from the Home Office that men and women who would have been detained in Dungavel in Scotland will not now simply be moved indiscriminately to other detention facilities in other parts of the UK. We know that being moved around the UK has an impact on people’s ability to access legal advice, as Scottish solicitors cannot represent people if they are moved away to centres in England.
“Loneliness and isolation put people’s health and wellbeing at further risk, and this will only worsen if people are moved away from their support networks.
“We are also concerned about the implications of detaining people in Short Term Holding Facilities, which have consistently received poor inspection reports by HMP and have been deemed unsafe for women