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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 08:07 GMT
Secure centre plans criticised
Oakington centre
The plans for Oakington have been leaked to the BBC
The MP whose constituency covers the Yarl's Wood detention centre has called on the government to wait before creating another special unit in the region.

Alistair Burt, the Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, was speaking after government plans to put a new secure unit within the existing Oakington reception centre in Cambridgeshire were leaked to the BBC.

Opponents say any centre for detainees awaiting deportation could suffer a similar fate to Yarl's Wood, largely destroyed in a fire after a riot last February.

Mr Burt said: "I don't think anything should be done with detention and removal centres until the Home Office has published the results of its inquiry into what happened at Yarl's Wood."

Alistair Burt MP
Mr Burt: Wait for inquiry results

He added: "There was a problem about those who were detained, and we believe it led to the incident."

The BBC has been told there are plans to create a secure deportation centre for 150 people within the Oakington site.

Currently, Oakington is a relatively low-key operation housing refugees awaiting the outcome of asylum applications.

When it opened in 1999 ministers were quick to reasure local people that security at the centre would not be an issue.

A Home Office spokesman said on Tuesday: "I can't confirm that we'll be building any new buildings or converting any existing buildings on the land.

The fears over Oakington have arisen as new measures concerning asylum seekers come into force nationwide.

From Wednesday, those who do not apply for asylum until well after their arrival in the UK will not be eligible for state support.


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07 Jan 03 | England
03 Apr 02 | England
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