Revealed: Priti Patel U-turn on end to detention for refugee women | Refugees

A brand new community of immigration detention models for women is being quietly deliberate by the Residence Workplace, opposite to earlier pledges to reform the system and scale back the variety of susceptible individuals held.

An preliminary detention centre, based mostly in County Durham on the location of a former youth jail, will open for feminine asylum seekers this autumn.

As well as to the ability close to Consett, Residence Workplace officers informed asylum teams final week they had been contemplating numerous “smaller capability detention models” for women across the UK, although it’s unclear if the infamous Yarl’s Wooden immigration elimination centre in Bedfordshire can be amongst them.

Alphonsine Kabagabo, director of the charity Women for Refugee Women, referred to as the creation of a detention centre within the north-east a “betrayal of earlier commitments made by ministers”.


Individually, a pioneering pilot scheme to guarantee susceptible women might stay locally as a substitute of being detained seems to have quietly been wound down by the Residence Workplace and can shut subsequent month.

The developments undermine makes an attempt by the previous immigration minister Caroline Nokes to reform the system. In 2019 Nokes vowed to introduce schemes that would scale back numbers and “assist susceptible women outdoors detention”.

The house secretary, Priti Patel, additionally appeared to acknowledge that the asylum system adversely affected women, telling the latest Tory occasion convention it was “elbowing women and kids in want to the aspect, trampling over the weak”.

Supported by the UNHCR, the Residence Workplace launched a scheme in Newcastle designed to guarantee women looking for asylum could possibly be spared detention. But it has emerged that the Motion Entry pilot for women who would in any other case have been held inside Yarl’s Wooden is being scrapped.

Home Office minister Chris Philp
Residence Workplace minister Chris Philp. {Photograph}: PA

The present immigration minister, Chris Philp, has confirmed in a parliamentary reply he’ll “conclude” the initiative subsequent month regardless of admitting that the pilot’s success would subsequently be evaluated over the summer time.

Residence Workplace officers additionally revealed final week, in accordance to sources, that the division had cancelled two different pilot schemes providing an alternate to detention.

Agnes Tanoh, who was held in detention at Yarl’s Wooden for three months and has launched an online petition against the new centre, stated: “The Residence Workplace stated it could make modifications so fewer persons are locked up. I assumed change was coming, I allowed myself to really feel some hope.”

Throughout the first lockdown final yr Yarl’s Wooden was emptied of its 400 women and repurposed to maintain Channel migrants, prompting some aid for campaigners, who level to analysis indicating that many detainees are fleeing abuse, sexual violence and trafficking.

The brand new elimination centre on the location of the previous Medomsley detention centre is known to have capability for 85 women.

Owain Gardner, spokesperson for a neighborhood marketing campaign towards the centre, stated it had acquired no assure youngsters wouldn’t be housed there. “There was no session in any respect with the native individuals or apparently the council,” he added.

Ali McGinley, director of the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, stated the opening of a centre was “symbolic” of a worrying change in course.

“Earlier dwelling secretaries made a sequence of guarantees which now appear to be being tossed apart,” she stated.


Throughout a gathering final week Residence Workplace officers revealed they had been additionally planning to open an unspecified variety of small detention models for women in current males’s immigration elimination centres, although they didn’t disclose a timescale or areas.

“They stated that they’re planning to open some smaller capability models for women in current IRCs [immigration removal centres] for what they referred to as ‘flexibility’,” stated a supply current on the assembly.

These, they added, appeared to be as well as to current models at Dungavel and Colnbrook detention centres.

Kabagabo stated: “A lot of the women now we have labored with who’ve been in immigration detention are survivors of sexual violence and torture. Locking them up has a devastating impact on their psychological well being.”

Tanoh added: “Women change into depressed and suicidal in detention. I don’t need to see this occur to any of my sisters.”

Philp confirmed plans had been being finalised for a brand new detention centre in County Durham. He stated: “The general public rightly expects us to keep a sturdy immigration system and detention performs a vital position on this.

“We’re dedicated to ensuring individuals with no entitlement to be within the UK, together with individuals with severe felony convictions, are eliminated.”

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