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UK Border Agency Detention Estate

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

The UK Border Agency now removes an immigration offender every eight minutes. This includes failed asylum seekers, overstayers and a record number of foreign prisoners.

We have set ourselves further aggressive targets to continue to increase the rate of removals, backed up with a doubling of enforcement resources.

This extra budget, made available in part by higher visa fees, will enable the agency to:

conduct 5,000 illegal working operations in 2008-09—on average twenty operations every working day;

deport 5,000 foreign prisoners by the end of the year;

conclude the majority of new asylum cases within six months by the end of the year; and

clear outstanding “legacy” asylum claims by summer 2011.

This increased activity will require the detention prior to removal of larger numbers of people.

Detention is necessary to ensure that immigration offenders do not abscond while the final stages of their removal are being arranged. Detention can also be used to “fast track” new asylum claims by housing applicants in centres with dedicated teams of case workers. This allows their cases to be decided quickly leading either to faster integration in the UK for successful applicants, or faster removal for those whose claims are refused.

To underpin the increased activity we are increasing the capacity of the detention estate by an extra 900 places on existing sites before the end of 2009:

New spaces at both Dover and Oakington will add around 100 spaces this year.

Brook House near Gatwick airport will contribute more than 420 places when it opens in February 2009.

New wings at Harmondsworth removal centre, near Heathrow airport, will contribute a further 370 beds by December 2009.

We are also announcing today feasibility studies into two new secure sites where planning permission will be sought:

The site already owned by the Home Office outside Bicester, Oxfordshire.

The site adjacent to the existing Home Office-owned centre at Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire.

Plans for the centres will be presented to local councils in the coming months. Subject to obtaining the necessary planning consents, at least one of these sites will be progressed within the next year, leading to a further 400-600 detention places being available by 2012.

This will increase capacity against today’s total by between 1300 and 1500 spaces.

All new centres will be built to Prison Service category B/C standard and will offer high quality and secure accommodation for detainees and staff.