We add our voice to widespread calls for moratorium on Campsfield expansion


Detention Action is standing in solidarity with other members of the Detention Forum to demand a moratorium on the proposed plans to expand Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Oxford.

We call on other to contact their MPs to put a stop to this ill-advised move by the Home Office.

Every day we see proof of the crippling impact of the UK government’s policy of warehousing innocent migrants with no time-limit. We speak to individuals whose lives, families, communities have been devastated as a result of their incarceration. Their experiences only lend support to the existing mountain of evidence confirming the adverse, long-term impacts of detention on people’s mental health. Combined with the extortionate cost to the taxpayer – with an estimated £76million wasted every year on the unnecessary long-term detention of people ultimately released – reducing the UK’s detention estate is a no-brainer.

And yet, the UK’s use of detention has actually been steadily, quietly, increasing. Over the last 12 months alone, the UK immigration detention capacity has increased by 25%. Over 4,000 detention bed spaces are now available in eleven prison-like Immigration Removal Centres scattered across the country. In September this year, the Verne, a former prison, was re-launched as the newest Immigration Removal Centre, adding an extra 580 detention bed spaces. And now the government has submitted plans to double the size of Campsfield IRC in Oxfordshire – from 276 bed spaces to 556.

This expansion of the detention estate is taking place away from public and political scrutiny. Detention is harmful and expensive. The UK’s practice of detention, and the lack of a time limit, has been repeatedly criticised by various national and international observers. There is an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention, which is yet to report its recommendations.

We believe it is ill-advised for the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire MP, to proceed with these plans, especially before the findings of the detention inquiry are announced next year. Locally, there is strong cross-party opposition to the expansion plan, led by Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. Only yesterday, nine heads of college and 61 other senior academics of Oxford University added their voice, signing an open letter to the Prime Minister, and calling for the withdrawal of the Campsfield House planning application.

We call for a moratorium on the detention expansion, urge the Immigration Minister to withdraw the Campsfield House planning application and ask the detention inquiry panel members and others to work towards providing parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s detention expansion plan. The current system needs a radical reform, not expansion.

Read the Detention Forum’s briefing paper on why it is calling for a moratorium on Campsfield expansion.

Download a sample letter to write to your MP demanding an end to the expansion of the UK’s detention estate.