Dungavel’s demise is welcome - but now we must stop its replacement

Shut dungavel cropped

Picture credit: Jacob Forsyth-Davies

Robina Qureshi argues that the closure of Dungavel gives us the opportunity to tell the Home Office that its methods are not welcome in Scotland

TFN Guest's photo

12th September 2016 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

Positive Action in Housing welcomes the closure of Dungavel Removal Centre. It symbolised Westminster's barbaric and inhumane policy towards those seeking refuge in the UK. 

In 2001, the Home Office said Dungavel would be a "short term" stay facility. It tends to be fond of euphemisms: Dungavel ended up detaining refugees indefinitely, often for years without reprieve.

Dungavel was the scene of countless incidents of self harm, suicides, protests and hunger-strikes. And never forget that part of the reason that the Ay family were granted leave to remain in Germany is the psychological harm done to them by 13 months in detention in the UK. 

It was basically a jail.

Campaigners still have an opportunity to stop these fast track, anti-refugee cells being built in Scotland

The Home Office plans to replace Dungavel with a 51-bed "short-term holding facility" in Abbotsinch Road beside Glasgow Airport.

With a turnaround of days, it could detain more people seeking asylum in Scotland than Dungavel ever did - not less.

They are basically building cells in order to get people out of protest-friendly Scotland - fast. 

We think it's highly unlikely that the Home Office will be able to remove people from the UK so quickly.

Firstly, removal is not that straightforward, especially when the country of origin refuses to issue travel documents, or if it is the wrong country. The risk is that people will simply languish for months or years in an English detention centre. They become just a number amongst thousands of refugees warehoused in the UK's detention estate. 

Secondly, by removing people from Scotland, where they may have made their home for years, people could be forced to abandon legal challenges in Scottish courts, and start again with new solicitors in English courts. There is a real risk that people  will either have their opportunities to challenge their removal restricted or be taken to immigration removal centres far away from their families, friends and legal representation. In addition there is more limited legal aid.

Crucially, the new proposal will stop campaigners from observing injustices and kill off protest and media headlines that saved hundreds of others in the past, something which the Scots are very good at.

Campaigners still have an opportunity to stop these fast track, anti-refugee cells being built in Scotland.

The Home Office is to ask Renfrewshire Council to grant planning permission for the short term holding facility at Abbotsinch Road next to Glasgow Airport.

The councillors sat on the planning committee at Renfrewshire Council can still reject the Home Office's plans and send a clear message to the UK government that its particular brand of injustice towards refugees is not welcome in Scotland because Scots insist on treating refugees with humanity and compassion.

Robina Qureshi is the director of Positive Action in Housing, a refugee and migrant homelessness and destitution charity based in Scotland.

13th September 2016 by Angus McKay

The reason why Dungavel holding centre was not always "short term" was due to those being held there for legals and rightful repatriation to their own countries destroyed all reference and paper work which could identify them. "With a turnaround of days, it could detain more people seeking asylum in Scotland than Dungavel ever did - not less" - ’course it could, because asylum seekers continually resort to the ploy of destroying all identification - "removal is not that straightforward, especially when the country of origin refuses to issue travel documents, or if it is the wrong country" … and … the failed asylum seekers give wrong information.When "people" are removed from Scotland they shouldn’t be allowed to "start again with new solicitors in English courts" - they are refused asylum seekers, they should be placed on their flight home."Crucially, the new proposal will stop campaigners from observing injustices and kill off protest and media headlines that saved hundreds of others in the past, something which the Scots are very good at." Excellent, the campaigners should have been ignored - something which the Scots would have wanted to witness was these rowdy "campaigners" being arrested and imprisoned - lawbreakers all.