Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 17:29 UK

Extra immigrant detention places

A passport being checked
The government wants to remove more illegal immigrants

Places in immigration detention centres are to increase by 60% under plans from the government's UK Border Agency.

Between 1,300 and 1,500 extra places will be created, border and immigration minister Liam Byrne said.

The Home Office will put in planning applications for new centres at two sites - Bicester in Oxfordshire and Yarl's Wood, Bedfordshire.

The Tories said it was the government's "long-term failure" on asylum policy that caused the need for extra spaces.

The Refugee Council, which works with asylum seekers and refugees, said the news was disappointing.

'Local concerns'

The government hopes the move will help the agency increase the number and pace of illegal immigrant removals.

These proposals for a new centre are in addition to one at Brook House, near Gatwick Airport, new wings at Harmondsworth near Heathrow, and spaces in centres at Dover and Oakington.

Mr Byrne said: "We remove an immigration offender every eight minutes - but my target is to remove more, and remove them faster.

"We need more detention space. Although stronger border security demands these controls, I know local communities will have concerns. My commitment is to listen to these personally."

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green blamed government policy for necessitating more spaces.

"If there were fewer delays in the system, there would be less need for new detention capacity," he said.

"These measures will help neither the taxpayer nor genuine refugees."

The Refugee Council said: "This is disappointing news, particularly the announcement that some of the extra places will be used to 'fast track' more people through the asylum system.

"These are people who are detained on arrival, who have committed no crime, and who are often extremely vulnerable, yet who are locked up in circumstances where there is little access to information and not knowing how long they will be imprisoned."

It said it suspected that some people were wrongly refused asylum in the UK because of the difficulties involved in presenting their case.

The UKBA says it removed 4,200 foreign national prisoners from the UK last year and deported a total of 63,140 illegal migrants.


SEE ALSO
Borders policing body begins work
03 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
Brown rejects cap on immigration
01 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
Scrapped asylum centre cost 28m
08 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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