By Theo Burman
A group of over 70 MPs and Peers today highlighted concerns over an immigration detention centre for women, planned to be created Hassockfield secure training facility in Durham.
The new detention centre would have capacity to hold up to 80 women at any one time and is due to begin operating in autumn 2021.
In an open letter to the Home Office, the group argue that the majority of women locked up in immigration detention are survivors of rape, torture, trafficking and other serious human rights abuses, and their mental health can be negatively affected by the experience of detention “in profound and lasting ways”.
Additionally, they claim that the Home Office is proceeding with the implementation of the new detention centre before it has completed an Equality Impact Assessment on the possible impacts on those with protected characteristics, including sex, disability and pregnancy/maternity. The letter states: ‘Such an approach is unacceptable and risks exposing already vulnerable women to yet more discrimination and harm.’
The letter raises additional concerns about further developments that ‘suggest that the Government has abandoned its commitment to reducing the use of detention’,
Among the group is Mary Foy, MP for the City of Durham, who highlighted concerns over the funding behind the centre: “We know that alternatives to detention are more humane, more efficient, and more cost-effective than detention centres, so why is the Government opening a new centre in County Durham to imprison vulnerable asylum-seeking women?
“Rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on detention centres out of a slavish commitment to the hostile environment, the Government should fund alternatives to detention and cancel this inhumane centre.”
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