In December 2018, Campsfield immigration detention centre in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, was finally closed, 25 years after it opened. As an organisation, Asylum Welcome was born out of the community campaign to close Campsfield, having run a visiting programme for those held in the centre. We have seen first-hand the trauma and harm done by detention practices, and we are shocked and saddened by the news that the centre is to reopen in late 2023.
The new Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) will be a secure facility to detain men chosen for removal from UK territory, to places such as Rwanda. The centre will hold up to 400 men, identified as ‘foreign criminals and immigration offenders.’ At this point, it is unclear how these assessments will be made, but we emphasise once again that seeking and claiming asylum is not, and must never become, a criminal or ‘immigration offence’.
The men detained in this centre pending removal will not have had the opportunity to have their asylum claims considered but, based on current statistics, over 70% of them would be deemed ‘genuine’ refugees under the government’s current system.
The thousands of people detained at Campsfield prior to 2018 were held in the prison-like compound for extended periods of time and experienced traumatic conditions; the centre was the site of a teenage suicide, several hunger strikes, and ongoing protest.
Unjustly imprisoning individuals who have arrived in search of a more safe and stable existence is a mark of a government who places their own political capital and narrative on immigration over the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable in global society.
Asylum Welcome will be restarting our campaign against the Campsfield centre in line with a wider push against the New Plan for Immigration, and we urge members of the public to join us in this.