New County Durham immigration detention centre for women to open

A new immigration detention centre for women will open in County Durham, the government has announced.

Derwentside immigration removal centre will hold both foreign national offenders and immigration offenders while awaiting deportation and removal from the UK.

The centre, which can hold up to 84 women is expected to be "fully operational by the end of the year.

The Home Office said this could create 200 jobs on the site.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Detention plays a limited, but crucial role in maintaining effective immigration control and securing our borders.

"It is right that those with no right to remain in the UK are removed if theydo not leave voluntarily."

Derwentside immigration removal centre will replace Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire.

Patel said "safeguarding and promoting the welfare of women is at the forefront of the new facility, and builds on the learning and experience of Yarl's Wood."

Campaigners have opposed the opening of a detention centre for immigrants, including women fleeing war, persecution, sexual violence who may have been subject to trafficking.

The site previously served as the Medomsley detention centre for young offenders - where it was the scene of historic abuse during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The victims were all in their teens when they were sent to Medomsley, often for minor offences, until the centre closed in 1988.

It then operated as the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre until 2015, and two years ago plans to turn the site into housing were revealed.