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Detention Centres

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mobile detention centres her Department was operating on 30 September 2008. (225927)

A mobile detention facility pilot consisting of a single vehicle started in Northampton on 30 September and will last for five weeks. This pilot will cover the full range of operational scenarios to test operational capability within the UK and how it complements, or adds to the existing fleet of vehicles available to United Kingdom Border Agency enforcement officers.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the first pilot of the use of mobile detention vans by the Border Agency. (225989)

[holding answer 13 October 2008]: A first pilot of a mobile detention solution ended in January 2008. It focused on the needs of immigration officers operating at small ports without short term holding facilities. The deployment in Poole and Newhaven was used to hold people discovered in vehicle searches as a more secure alternative to transporting them to police stations.

The integration of customs and immigration activity at ports as part of the creation of the United Kingdom Border Agency has led to a review of existing port holding facilities. That will inform a future decision on the deployment of any future mobile capability.

During the course of the pilot, the merit of using this type of facility for both pre-planned enforcement operations and to apprehend illegal immigrants was also considered. As a result, the need for a revised vehicle specification was identified to provide the additional flexibility required by UKBA's operational enforcement officers.

Using the revised specification, a second mobile detention pilot started in the Northampton area on 30 September 2008.