Residents and campaigners protest against detention of women at Derwentside Immigration Centre

Local residents and campaigners from across the UK have held a protest against the detention of women at Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre in County Durham.

This is a facility for what are described by the Home Office as "foreign national offenders and immigration offenders" who are set to be removed from the UK.

The event took place on Palace Green in Durham. The location was chosen as it close to Durham Cathedral's 'Sanctuary Knocker'. Traditionally, anyone who used it would be offered respite, food, drink and other necessities.

The detention centre is located less than 30 minutes away from Durham city centre in Hassockfield. Protesters say it undermines Durham's history as a welcoming place and its 'City of Sanctuary' status.

One protestor who spoke at the the event was Moses Chikwekwete Mbano, an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe, who now lives in Newcastle.

Other speakers included Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP for the City of Durham, and Agnes Tanoh, a spokesperson at the campaign group Women for Refugee Women.

A Home Office spokesman said: ''Immigration removal centres such as Derwentside enable the UK to remove foreign national offenders and those with no right to be in the UK. This is what the public expects.

“Vulnerable people are only detained when the evidence of vulnerability is outweighed by the immigration considerations, such as risk of non-compliance with immigration bail or for the protection of the public.

''The Nationality and Borders Act, which recently received Royal Assent to become law, will fix the broken asylum system, making it easier to remove those with no right to be here, and fairer to those who need our help.”