Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, has spoken with the Home Office regarding the detention and deportation centre proposals on the former site at Hassockfield.
Richard spoke with the Home Office yesterday who updated him on their work and answered several key questions constituents have asked. Currently there are no removal and repatriation facilities in the North East of England, despite our local prisons and there is a need for new facilities to aid in the removal of people who have no right to be in the UK.
1.) Type of detainee
It has been confirmed that there will be c. 80 female foreign nationals awaiting deportation and repatriation to their home country at any point. This will consist of female offenders who have finished their prison sentences and need to be deported home and female foreign nationals who have broken their visa rules or are failed asylum seekers.
2.) Security Arrangements
It's been confirmed to me that the security at the deportation centre will be the same level (Category C equivalent) as at HMP Low Newton, the women's prison near Durham, and HMP Northumberland. No-one has escaped from any immigration centre of any type in the UK in over four years.
There will be more jobs at Hassockfield than previously proposed. It's now likely to be nearer to be 200 than the initial 150 proposed. At 200 jobs, this will mean well over £10,000,000 of wages coming into our local economy every year from these jobs, the ad hoc work required on the site and the knock on jobs that these new jobs will create.
Furthermore, the two contractors currently being considered are both looking at will both be recruiting almost all of their staff locally with just a core team brought in from existing sites to set up and train.
a.) Work will take place between March (ish) and August ensuring that the facilities are up to scratch. Galliford Try North East are the main sub-contractors. I spoke to them yesterday afternoon and if you are a tradesman interested in work on the site, please contact them. There are no plans at all to extend the site footprint, it is just upgrading exisitng facilities.
b.) Job applications for the 200 posts will begin in May/June with training starting soon after and the facilities planned to open in late-August/September
The first contract will be for two years with an operator during which a longer formal procurement process will be undertaken for a 10 year contract. Both of the companies in consideration already operate existing facilities.
Commenting, Richard said:
“It is right that the former Hassockfield site be restyled into an immigration detention and removal centre – the site already has all necessary permissions and is a sensible location and re-using existing buildings are a sensible use of taxpayer's money.
“It's really good to have had further details about the proposed centre confirmed to me. The confirmation that the project will bring create 200 jobs and bring millions to our local economy is fantastic – having dealt with the pandemic for a year, it is welcome news that our local economy will be boosted.
“The public expect us to maintain a strong immigration system and that’s what people voted for in the General Election. Immigration detention and removal plays a key role in this. I am aware that several Labour and Liberal Democrat elected representatives oppose deporting convicted foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers and would instead let them stay in the UK. My view is that that would be a disaster and encourage more illegal migrants and foreign criminals to come to the UK. We need a strong operation to stop people coming in and deporting those who have no right to be in the UK."
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