Dungavel reprieved - and suffering of asylum seekers will go on

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One of the numerous demonstrations outside Dungavel Detention Centre.

Charities blast Home Office over Dungavel

Graham Martin's photo

3rd February 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Campaigners said there should be no detention of asylum seekers in Scotland – as it was announced that the controversial Dungavel facility is to stay open.

The Home Office gave the centre a reprieve, despite previously saying it would close.

It had wanted to build a removal centre near Glasgow Airport, but was blocked by Renfrewshire Council following a campaign by asylum rights activists.

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."

However, this was blasted by the Scottish Refugee Council.

A spokeswoman said: “This issue was never just about the location of the detention centre. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in Renfrewshire or South Lanarkshire, the current system of detention for immigration purposes in the UK is not fit for purpose.

“There are many viable non-custodial alternatives that would allow people to remain in the community while their immigration status is explored. The majority of people locked up for immigration reasons have not committed crimes and do not need or deserve to be behind bars.

“The way the Home Office has handled this planned closure of Dungavel shows a worrying lack of strategic thinking around this whole issue.

“We are very disappointed that long term indefinite detention will continue in Scotland and we’ll continue to campaign with many others for an end to this inhumane and inefficient practice.”

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action In Housing, which has spearheaded the campaign against detention, said: "Dungavel remains a scar on Scottish soil, and we would prefer it was closed down, we are against indefinite detention, we have never seen it work, the delays involved in processing human beings is costly, because people are detained for months at a time, and then suddenly released, entirely without explanation.

"Thousands of pounds is spent on keeping people in jail conditions for no reason. It’s a waste of tax payers money, money that is paid to the multinationals that are in charge of these refugee jails.

"The government is better off accepting that its asylum system is riddled with delays. Only two years ago, the Home Office accepted that it had over 100,000 important recorded delivery letters left unopened in its offices. There were thousands of letters from lawyers and MPs pressing for refugees to be allowed to stay.

"We have able bodied, work ready individuals who are forbidden to work. It is utter madness, a waste of human resources. If the government would stop and think, they would see that asylum seekers should be allowed to work and pay taxes while they await a Home Office decision."