Campaign to Close Campsfield

Campaign to Close CampsfieldThe current plans are to double the size of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre – IRC.  The Home Office and Ministry of Justice are pressing ahead before the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Immigration Detention has made its recommendations, and at a time when the Home Secretary is concerned about conditions in IRCS.  There is unanimous opposition locally and across all parties.

Quakers in Oxford signed a joint letter with 20 other organisations expressing concern.

14 Reasons Why Campsfield Must Not Be Expanded

1 The position of Leigh Day, solicitors for Stop Campsfield Expansion, is: the Home Office must show that very special conditions exist to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt. They haven’t, so the application should be refused. (There is no reason to treat the HO/MOJ differently.)

2 It is wrong to consider that simply because something is government “policy” this means that the “need” is established and this case must be taken at face value. The Council must reach an independent view, not knuckle under to the government

 3 The criteria for the alternatives sites search were not reasonable. It is not reasonable to confine your search to sites you already own to justify development on a Green Belt site.

4 The logic of the government’s own trend figures is that more detention beds are not needed: fewer people are being deported, while detention capacity has been going up fast  

5 There are serious concerns about the plans for the building themselves and the risks in having 2 regimes for the old and proposed new parts of the centre.

6 The plans (incomplete in some areas for ‘security’) would involve lower standards than in the present centre in the new areas: a less open regime, poor toilet facilities, less sports facilities.

7 Emerging Local Plan policies Kidlington 1 and ESD14 allow for a small-scale local review of the Green Belt to allow for identified high-value employment. Additional employment from an expanded Campsfield would not be of this  kind.

8 Aspects of the suggested development (mass, size of development in the Green Belt, height of buildings, concentration of buildings on the site, likely increase in traffic, insufficient parking, water drainage problems, likely increased light pollution) in any case make it unacceptable, and inappropriate in a Green Belt.

9 Government figures show larger centres have more incidents (disturbances) per 100 detainees. So – more disturbances and emergency services demand in if the application is approved.

10 This project would strongly undermine the reputation of Kidlington. Immigration detention has been widely criticised in the UK and by international agencies. A Campsfield X 2 would make the district a less desirable place to bring up children to believe in just treatment and respect for all.

11 One of Europe’s biggest detention centres nearby would not favour the Science Park, hotels.

12 Pressure is on Councillors to exclude issues such as the fact that it is wrong to lock up innocent people. We contend that nevertheless, Councillors have an overarching humanitarian duty to take these matters into account.

13 Local people do not want the development. E.g. The local parish councils, over 65 public submissions to Cherwell Council including a letter signed by 21 Oxfordshire Organisations, and another signed by 69 senior Oxford University academics, the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the current MP and all prospective parliamentary candidates for Oxford (West) and Abingdon.

14 National developments mean that the application is not well-timed (e.g. Theresa May’s
review of detention & vulnerability, the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention due to report in March).




Cherwell District Councillors today voted to defer an application to more than double the size of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre, due to late receipt of a legal letter by Leigh Day solicitors, representing members of the Stop Campsfield Expansion group.

The letter stated that the approach in the Officer’s Committee Report, prepared by Cherwell District Council and which made recommendations followed by elected Planning Committee Members, “is plainly wrong in law”. The Officer’s Committee Report advised Councillors not to consider relevant evidence, falsely suggested that Planning Matters such as the standard of accommodation were not actually planning matters, and encouraged them to accept Home Office policy statements blindly without the need for evidence.

Campaigners said this vindicated their approach: “This backs up what we’ve been saying from the beginning, that Councillors must consider all the evidence and make up their own minds whether there is a need to detain more migrants,” said Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campsfield. “Since the Home Office’s own figures confirm that they are releasing more and more detainees without taking further action against them, people who they should never have locked up in the first place, we are confident Councillors will eventually decide that there is no “Need”.”

At a lobby called by Oxford Trades Union Council outside the council offices in Bodicote, Banbury, 40-50 people heard speeches from members of the Movement for Solidarity; Maurice Wren, head of the Refugee Council of England and Wales; and parliamentary candidates Sally Copley and Larry Saunders from the Labour and Green parties respectively.

The next Cherwell planning committee meeting is on 19 March.

For more information, contact Bill MacKeith on 01865 558 145 or Liz
Peretz on 07791738577                                                                                              ENDS