Eight Albanian men on run after riot at Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire

Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre.
Credit: PA
Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire where eight detainees have escaped following a riot. Credit: PA

A riot at an immigration detention centre took place because detainees "got frustrated and want to be released", one has claimed.

Eight men are on the run after escaping from Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire following the disturbance on Friday.

In total, 13 people fled the site after detainees used gym equipment to damage the building and break the doors. Five have since been tracked down by police.

Campaign group Detained Voices said it had been contacted by one person claiming to be a current resident who had been detained at Yarl's Wood for the last two months, and for six months in total.

They told the group the riot had involved half of those being held at Yarl's Wood.

"People were united because they have been holding people for six months, 12 months, nine months. And then deporting them," they said.

"They say why are they holding people for so long? They got frustrated and they wanted to be released.

"They did it in the gym, they took the equipment, and they broke the doors."

The detainee said immediately following the protest, residents were locked in their rooms while the doors were fixed.

"I feel good for the people who were able to escape," they said. "They are free now. God bless them - I wish they never [catch] them. Because to be an immigrant is not a crime."

Police confirmed a disturbance broke out at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire around 10pm on Friday.

Eight Albanian men - seven in their 20s and one in their 30s - remain on the run.

Assistant Chief Constable Karena Thomas said officers were first called by staff from inside the centre.

She said: "Shortly before 10pm on Friday we received reports from staff at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre of disorder involving a number of detainees.

"During the incident, 13 people made off from the premises through the outer fencing.

"Five of these have been detained by police but eight others, seven Albanian men in their 20s and one in his 30s, are still being looked for.

"We are continuing to investigate their whereabouts to ensure the safety of the detainees as well as the wider public and wish to reassure people that none of those who have escaped pose any risk to the wider community."

Staff - who work for security contractor Serco - have since regained control of the building and the Home Office confirmed no one had been injured during the riot.

The centre had been a women-only facility for many years but is now used as a short-term detention centre for men.

A Home Office spokesman added: "There are robust security measures in all immigration removal centres and an incident such as this is extremely rare.

"We treat all security issues extremely seriously and are working closely with the police and our contractors to urgently review measures."

Serco has been contacted for comment.

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