By Jess Jones
Mary Foy, City of Durham MP, has written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to express her opposition to a women’s immigration detention centre that is to be built at the Hassockfield site in Medomsley, County Durham.
This action comes after an open letter, written by three Durham students, urged Mary Foy to appeal to the Home Secretary, asking her to refrain from proceeding with the building of the detention centre. It was subsequently signed by over 1500 County Durham residents.
Speaking about the proposed detention centre, Mary Foy said: “I am disgusted by the Government’s plans to open an immigration detention centre in Medomsley whilst completely ignoring local concerns in order to push its cruel immigration system on a small community hundreds of miles away from where the decision is made.
“My constituents are rightly alarmed by the Government’s decision to increase the number of women in detention and it is yet more evidence of the Government’s commitment to creating a hostile environment for asylum seekers.”
The letter focuses on her personal moral objection to immigration detention centres, saying that they “serve only to criminalise and imprison people simply because of where they were born”. Furthermore, the gender-based physical and sexual violence that many women in such centres have suffered makes their unfair imprisonment harrowing and cruel and it exacerbates trauma unnecessarily.
The MP for Durham City also draws attention to the Hassockfield site’s dark history which, during the 1970s and 1980s, was home to the Medomsley Detention Centre. Over 1800 men made complaints to the police of the horrendous abuses by staff that they faced at the institution. Calling it “an insult to the survivors, their families, and the local community”, Mary Foy strongly encourages the Government to rethink their decision to forgo consultation with historic victims, some of whom have never received justice.
Finally, Mary Foy makes the point that the detention centre that is currently being built on the Hassockfield site has resulted in the forced abandonment of Durham County Council’s proposed plans to build over 100 affordable houses there instead. This ignores the genuine needs of the Durham community.
Image: Colin Edgar via Wikimedia Commons