Dungavel to stay open as Home Office retreats from humane promises

Nathanael Williams

Detention centre infamous for abuse and inhumanity will stay open in Scotland

THE UK HOME OFFICE has announced it will keep the controversial immigration detention centre at Dungavel House open.

After having its plans for a new short-term “holding facility” near Glasgow Airport rejected by Renfrewshire Council, it made the decision to retain the facility for “logistical necessity”.

Campaigners have responded angrily to the news, describing it as a disappointment and contrary to commitments made by the UK Home Office to adhere to humane treatment of refugees.

Behind the Wire: Inside Dungavel – an exclusive short film

A Home Office spokesman said: “We always made clear that the closure of Dungavel immigration removal centre was dependent on the opening of a new short-term holding facility in Scotland.

“As the application for a new facility at Paisley was rejected, Dungavel will remain open.”

The planning committee of Renfrewshire Council has rejected an application by the UK Government to open a 51 bed “short-term holding facility” to house those awaiting deportation from the UK.

It had been announced in September last year that Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire was due to close in early 2017. Dungavel has been the site of numerous allegations of abuse as well as suicides and hunger strikes by detainees who complained about harsh conditions.

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Councillors in Renfrewshire had opposed a replacement due to numerous concerns raised by members of the public and anti-racist campaigners about the poor planning, lack of economic support and moral justification given when the application was originally made.

In response to the news that Dungavel would remain open Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Home Office has taken this decision. Dungavel has for too long been a symbol of all that is wrong in our immigration system and too many have suffered within its walls.

“Our asylum system needs change at a fundamental level and continues to be riddled with issues around detention, unfair removals, improper questioning and destitution.

“We believe that the closure of Dungavel could have acted as the first step towards the creation of a better and more humane approach to asylum and we will continue to campaign for its closure and the fair redeployment of workers in the centre.”

Speaking to CommonSpace a Scottish Government spokesperson added: “Asylum seekers and people with insecure immigration status should be treated with respect and dignity at all times.  The Scottish Government supports calls for immigration detention to be limited to 28 days and for it to be replaced with community solutions. We are disappointed that the Home Office has indicated its intention not to close Dungavel.  Scottish Ministers have long been concerned about the situation there and have campaigned for its replacement with a more humane system.”

Picture courtesy of Vimeo

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