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Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 15 March 2007

The House will be aware that an incident occurred in the early hours of yesterday morning at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire.

I would like to first praise the outstanding response of the emergency services and staff from IND and the Prison Service who reacted with great speed and professionalism to quell this disturbance. As a result of their decisive, rapid action the centre is now fully under control and the majority of the centre is still fully operational.

An assessment of the impact of this incident is ongoing, but the Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has reported the following events to me.

At 6.30am on Wednesday 14 March an attempted removal of an immigration detainee in Campsfield House was forcibly resisted. Several other detainees then sought to intervene and obstruct this removal and began to then threaten staff and start fires in the centre.

The emergency services were called and all staff and detainees were moved to the exterior grounds within the centre at around 7am. All of the fires were extinguished swiftly by the emergency services. Prison Service Tornado Units were then deployed to the centre to help restore full control.

There was no risk to public safety during the course of this incident. Throughout the day the perimeter fence remained secure. No detainee was able to abscond from the centre.

No serious injuries occurred to staff or detainees within the centre, but seven members of staff and two detainees were taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation. All were subsequently discharged.

Robert Whalley CB, a retired senior civil servant, will extend his investigation into the recent disturbance at Harmondsworth Removal Centre to cover this incident.

Campsfield House holds up to 200 detainees and was operating at near full capacity at the time of the disturbance.

Sixty of the detainees at Campsfield House have been transferred under escort to other parts of the IND detention estate but the other detainees have remained at the centre.

No detainee will be released from either this centre or any other part of the IND estate as a result of the incident.

We cannot and will not tolerate such attempts to deliberately prevent the removal of those who have no legal rights to be in this country.

The Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has therefore been instructed to ensure that removal from the country will continue to be pursued actively in all cases.