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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Asylum 'prison' campaign hots up
Dungavel - when it used to be a prison
About 60 people joined the protest on Sunday
A new detention centre for asylum seekers has opened in Scotland amid mounting criticism of the move.

The centre at Dungavel in Lanarkshire, which will house up to 150 immigrants, opened on Monday.

About 60 people gathered at the facility on Sunday to demand that it did not open.

The fact is that children are going to be incarcerated in Dungavel with their parents

Mark Brown, refugee campaign
And protesters said they would continue their campaign until Dungavel Detention Centre is closed.

Mark Brown, secretary of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, said: "We don't believe it is right to detain asylum seekers.

"They are people who are being criminalised for seeking refugee status."

Mr Brown said the opening was particularly insensitive at a time when tensions over asylum issues have increased in Glasgow.

Last month, a 22-year-old Kurdish refugee was killed in the city.

Behind bars

Mr Brown added: "The point about deportation is that we don't support the criteria which the Home Office use for deportation.

"The fact is that children are going to be incarcerated in Dungavel with their parents.

"People are being put behind bars and barbed wire without ever having committed a crime.

"Our protest will go on over a number of months and for as long as is necessary."

The facility at the former prison is the first of its kind in Scotland.

Sighthill flats in Glasgow
Tensions have been high in Glasgow recently
It will be operated by the Premier Custodial Group, whose parent company, Wackenhut Corporate Corrections, runs other similar centres around the world.

It is understood that some people have already been moved into the facility, which will house people whose asylum applications have been refused and they have lodged appeals.

It will also hold people whom the Home Office believe may abscond if they are allowed to live in open society.

At present Greenock Prison is used to house male asylum seekers who fall within this group.

Objections have also been raised about the facility itself, which has been converted from the former Dungavel Prison.

Suggestion rejected

Norman Godman, former MP for Greenock and Inverclyde, described it as a cheapskate solution.

He said the facility was better than Greenock Prison - but not much.

Mr Godman added: "I was keen to see a centre built at Glasgow Airport, there was room there, but that was rejected by the government."

And the Scottish National Party has voiced concerns about the Home Office overseeing the centre, saying that responsibility should be transferred north of the border.

Home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson
"The regime will be relatively relaxed"
Mark Brown, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees
"We will protest for as long as it takes"

Destination UK
The debate over asylum seekers and refugees
See also:

18 Aug 01 | Scotland
Arrest in asylum murder hunt
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
UN condemns asylum seeker attacks
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
More asylum seekers flee city
09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Councils to ease refugee plight
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