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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Former jail to house asylum seekers
Dungavel
Dungavel has been refurbished to house the detainees
The Home Office has confirmed that the private company which manages Kilmarnock Prison is in line to manage Scotland's first immigration detention centre.

Premier Detention Services, a subsidiary of US company Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, has been awarded a five-year contract to run the centre.

It is due to open at the former Dungavel Prison, near Strathaven, South Lanarkshire, in the autumn.

The Scottish Refugee Council said it was disappointed that plans were proceeding to open the centre at the mothballed jail.

Kilmarnock Prison
Premier also runs Kilmarnock Prison
The UK Immigration Service's contract with Premier Detention Services is due to be signed next month.

The company will run the detention centre for the next five years, earning an anticipated $30m for its US parent company.

The centre will house 150 immigration detainees who have been refused permission to stay in the UK.

The first 90 adults will arrive in September, with 60 more expected to be sent to the refurbished family centre later in the year.

A Home Office spokeswoman defended the policy of housing asylum seekers in such centres, saying it would end the need to use remand wings of prisons.

She said: "Normally people would be detained if we have reason to believe that they would abscond if they were released into the community.

'Abscond' worries

"For example failed asylum seekers who are waiting removal from the country or immigration offenders would normally be detained pending their removal.

"While it is regrettable, our past experience has shown us that it's necessary otherwise people will abscond."

Premier also runs five UK jails including Kilmarnock Prison.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Refugee Council said it was exceedingly concerned about the growing use and length of detention in Scotland.

The organisation claims it is a fundamental breach of human rights to detain people whose only crime is to seek protection from persecution.

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