Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed submission to Labour NPF

A call to honour 2019 policy and close all detention centres has been submitted to the Labour NPF in the name of the Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed. You can still “vote” online to support this submission. (you can “vote” on that page to recommend the submission)

A motion concerning ‘free movement, equality and rights for migrants’ passed almost unanimously at the Labour Party Conference in 2019. This motion committed to ‘close all detention centres’.

We call upon Labour policymakers to honour and reinforce the 2019 commitment to close all detention centres ahead of the elections in 2023.

The government has published detailed plans for reopening Campsfield House Detention centre following its closure in 2018. While it was open, the centre saw hunger strikes, self-harm, and the tragic suicides of 19-year-old Ramazan Komluca in 2005 and Ianos Dragutan in 2011.

The site plans for Campsfield House represent a significant expansion of the facility, yet levels of distress are higher in larger and more securitised IRCs, where the criminalisation of detainees is most stark. There is a wealth of empirical evidence that immigration detention has immediate and long-term negative consequences on people’s medical and mental health.

Similar plans to expand Campsfield House in 2015 were withdrawn following broad opposition from politicians and the public.

We ask the Labour policy forum to confirm that work would cease on Campsfield House (and all other detention centres in the pipeline), and that no plans will be made to open new detention centres.

Choosing to spend taxpayer money on expanding the detention estate during a cost-of-living crisis is a shockingly bad use of public resources.

Evidence collected by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford suggests that 86% of people leaving detention in 2021 were released on bail, and that most made successful claims to asylum or other forms of humanitarian protection.

It costs the Home Office £107 per day to hold one person in immigration detention, the highest per-capita cost since records began in 2013. In addition to the £94 million spent on immigration detention in the financial year 2021-22, the Home Office was forced to pay out an astounding £12.7 million in compensation to people detained unlawfully.

These funds would be better spent clearing the asylum backlog, addressing the crisis in our National Health Service, and helping support struggling families with the rising costs of food and energy bills.

Individuals can be detained without trial, without proper judicial oversight and with little chance of bail and the UK continues to be the only country in Europe without a statutory upper time limit on detention. Vulnerable people who should not be detained, including survivors of torture, trafficking and gender- and sexuality-based violence are routinely held in detention. There are multiple reports of abuse and mistreatment at existing removal sites.

For these reasons, we ask Labour policymakers to reaffirm their commitment to closing all detention centres, to cease work on those currently being planned for and built, and to explore community-based alternatives to detention.

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