Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Some detainees at Campsfield House held 'too long'

Campsfield detention centre
Campsfield was converted to a detention centre in 1993

Some detainees held at Campsfield House immigration centre in Oxfordshire are being detained for "excessive periods", according to an inspector's report.

Dame Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP), said the centre near Kidlington was making progress.

But the inspector expressed concern that average lengths of stay appeared to be increasing and a lack of data obscured the scale of the problem.

The UK Borders Agency (UKBA) said it reviewed detention frequently.

Campsfield House, run by GEO Group Ltd, has had an unsettled recent history, with a number of high-profile incidents and escapes.

'Essentially safe'

The report found that the establishment was now "settled, stable and performing commendably well".

Inspectors found that detainees were treated well on arrival, although the reception facility remained inadequate.

Relationships between detainees and staff were mutually respectful, but would be further improved with increased use of telephone translation services.

Dame Anne said the security at Campsfield was proportionate and force was rarely used.

The concerns that we highlight relate largely to the difficulties that detainees have in resolving their immigration status and the excessive periods of detention that result
Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons

However, she said immigration casework remained the major source of anxiety for detainees, together with difficulties in obtaining adequate legal advice, although the on-site UKBA team responded quickly to issues.

Inspectors also noted with concern that some detainees were in effect detained indefinitely because there was little prospect of removal.

Education provision was poor, particularly for the significant numbers of long-stay detainees and those with little English.

Dame Anne said: "The centre was now an essentially safe place, with good relationships between staff and detainees, plenty of activity - at least for short-termers - and generally sound preparation for removal.

"The concerns that we highlight relate largely to the difficulties that detainees have in resolving their immigration status and the excessive periods of detention that result."

According to the UKBA, more than 66,000 people were removed or voluntarily departed from the UK in 2008, including a record number of foreign criminals.

'Detention reviewed'

David Wood, strategic director of the UKBA's criminality and detention group, welcomed the report's findings.

He said: "We will be considering the contents of this report and HMCIP's recommendations very carefully.

"We will draw up a service improvement plan responding to each of the recommendations.

"There is no fixed time-limit on detention for immigration purposes but it must last for no longer than is reasonably necessary for the purpose for which it was authorised.

"Detention is reviewed frequently, at increasing levels within the UK Border Agency the longer the person has been detained, to ensure that it only lasts as long as is necessary."



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SEE ALSO
Detainees moved after disturbance
13 Mar 09 |  Oxfordshire
Protest urges Campsfield closure
23 Aug 08 |  Oxfordshire
Campsfield claims 'unsurprising'
15 Jul 08 |  Oxfordshire
Campsfield men still on the run
27 Jun 08 |  Oxfordshire
Immigration centre riot alert
14 Jun 08 |  UK
Campsfield's troubled history
06 Aug 07 |  UK

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