Protests held in Oxford over plans to open immigration centre on Campsfield House site

Protestors gathered in Oxford. Credit: Liz Peretz

Protestors gathered in Bonn Square today to protest against plans by the Home Office to open an immigration centre on the Campsfield House site.

The plans were announced late last month, and would form part of the government's 'New Plan for Immigration'.

The event today saw the launch of a new umbrella group, The Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed, led by Asylum Welcome and Oxford Against Immigration Detention.

They're calling for the centre to remain closed, with concerns raised about how up to 400 men would stay there before potentially being deported to Rwanda.

Watch: Protestors gathered in Bonn Square. Credit: Liz Peretz

Last month, Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, described it as “a disgraceful decision by the Home Office and I will fight it every step of the way”.

Meanwhile, Maria Brul, campaigns and advocacy co-ordinator at Detention Action, said: “Over 20 years, Campsfield immigration detention centre was the site of a teenage suicide, hunger strikes and the unjust detention of thousands of people seeking asylum.

“It was closed by (then home secretary Sajid) Javid in an attempt to avoid the extreme harm that indefinite detention causes. Its reopening is a sign that (Home Secretary) Priti Patel is long out of ideas, and so is once again opting to inflict trauma and misery on more black and brown people.”

The new site is set to house foreign criminals and immigration offenders in a combination of refurbished and new-build accommodation.

The Home Office said the centre will be a chance to provide local employment.

Tom Pursglove, minister for justice and tackling illegal migration, said: “Those who have abused the immigration system, including foreign national criminals who have devasted the lives of their victims, should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them. This is what the British public rightly expects.

“Opening a new immigration removal centre, as part of the New Plan for Immigration, will help ensure there is sufficient detention capacity to safely accommodate individuals ahead of removal.”

The Home Office said the welfare people in immigration detention is of the upmost importance and would be taken into account as Campsfield is redeveloped.