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Britain’s biggest immigration removal centre opens

18 March 2009

The Home Secretary has opened Britain’s biggest immigration removal centre, increasing this country’s total detention capacity to nearly 3000 beds.

Brook House is built next to Gatwick Airport, has 426 beds, and will hold male illegal migrants and foreign criminals.

The Home Secretary said, ‘I’m committed to removing more foreign lawbreakers faster than ever before, that’s why the opening of this immigration removal centre is so important.

‘By expanding our detention capacity and working closely with countries to re-document foreign nationals faster, we’re making it more difficult than ever to stay in the UK illegally.’

Further expansion

The UK Border Agency plans to increase detention housing by 60% by 2012. This includes building a new 370-bed wing in the Harmondsworth removal centre near Heathrow Airport by 2010.

The Home Office has also submitted two planning applications for centres at Bullingdon in Oxfordshire and Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire. A decision on which site is pursued will depend on the planning process.

Detention figures

In 2008, 66,275 individuals were removed or left voluntarily from the UK. Detention is seen as a last resort by the government – when someone is found to have no right to be in the UK they are expected to leave voluntarily, saving the taxpayer the cost of a stay in an immigration removal centre and the return journey to their home country.

Details of the detention capacity across the UK (new window) are available on the Home Office press website.

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