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Harmondsworth Detention Quarters

Volume 928: debated on Monday 21 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people can be accommodated in the detention quarters at Harmondsworth;(2) what arrangements are made for people to telephone their friends and relatives who are detained at Harmondsworth; who answers the telephone when calls are made to people detained there; why an official is not responsible for handling incoming calls to detainees; what would be the cost of providing such a service; and what precautions are taken to ensure that a detainee is actually in the centre when an inquiry is received;(3) how many public telephones are installed at Harmondsworth detention quarters; if all these telephone numbers are given to a person making an inquiry who desires to contact a detainee; and

reasons for the rejection of these applications; and if he will make a statement.

The numbers of work permissions given for workers already in this country to citizens of Cyprus under the work permit scheme in 1974 and 1975 permits issued for workers overseas and were as follows:what is the procedure if a person making an inquiry after a detainee telephones the number given fails to make contact, and once more contacts the immigration officer;(4) if the same arrangements as at Harmondsworth about telephoning friends and relatives apply to other detention quarters in the United Kingdom.

At the present time some 55 people can be accommodated at Harmondsworth.Relatives and friends wishing to contact people held at Harmondsworth are given the telephone numbers of the public call boxes provided there; these telephones are usually answered by one of the detainees. For incoming calls to be handled by an official it would be necessary to provide additional staff and a special exchange at an estimated cost of some £8,000 per annum. It would be impracticable to ensure that a detainee was always accessible whenever a call for him was received. There are two public telephones at Harmondsworth and a third will shortly be installed. Under revised arrangements which have been made since my hon. Friend draw attention to the matter an inquirer will be given the numbers of each public telephone. He will be advised that if he is unable to contact the detainee and telephones the immigration officer he may leave a telephone number where the detainee, to whom a message will be passed, can contact him.Similar arrangements are being made at Gatwick. At other ports where the detention accommodation is smaller contact can usually be made through the Immigration Service.