is a privately run Immigration detention
Centre near Oxford
. It has been the site of a number of protests from human rights
campaigners and has seen a number of hunger strikes
and one suicide. The former Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons
condemned conditions at Campsfield House in a 2004 report
In March 2007, there was a riot at the centre after staff attempted to drag a detainee from his room. In June 2008, a series of small fires were started during disturbances at the centre.
Campsfield House used to be a youth detention
centre, but it re-opened as an Immigration Detention Centre in November 1993. It originally had 200 places for both male and female detainees, however in 1997, capacity was reduced to 184 and the centre became male only. Capacity has now risen to around 215 bed spaces. Although initially the detainee population comprised of asylum seekers, since June 2006 new government policy has seen the population change to mainly (an average of 80%) former HMP prisoners. Campsfield is run by the American company GEO who are respopnsible for immigration detention centres in the U.S, Australia and South Africa. Campsfield House is their first European contract.
Detainees at Campsfield House are held behind a twenty-foot high razor-wire topped fence. Throughout the centre there are surveillance cameras, and friends and relatives wishing to visit detainees are searched before passing through five separate remote-controlled doors. There is an intrusive tannoy announcement system which can be heard everywhere, including the shared cell-bedrooms, however this is used as a last resort as detainees are allowed the use of mobile phones and the establishment can achieve contact through these. Campsfield House is not categorised in the same way as HMP prisons, and would fall short of category 'C' standard. Security of the centre is maintained by large perimeter fences, but within the establishment detainees are relativley free to roam. As opposed to cells detainees have two or three man rooms and communal shower and toilet facilities. There are around fifteen single rooms. The doors to rooms are never locked, however the gates to the three accommodation blocks are locked between midnight and six in the morning. Detainees are free to move around the blocks during this time. This relatively relaxed regime, coupled with the new influx of ex HMP prisoners has led to difficulty in maintaining discipline at Campsfield.
On the 22nd of June, 2005 a group of six Zimbabwean
asylum seekers went on hunger strike
for three days.
In August 2008, 13 Iraqi Kurds went on hunger strike and were joined by up a number of others
On 27th June 2005, Campsfield detainee Ramazan Komluca, committed suicide, the 19 year old from Turkey
had been detained for about 6 months, and had made three unsuccessful bail applications.
2008 Fire and Disturbances
On 14th June 2008 a series of small fires broke out at the centre. 10 fire engines, 12 police vehicles and a police helicopter were dispatched to the centre, and a police cordon set up, at the request of the UK Border Agency, to secure the perimeter which is not believed to have been breached.
Opposition to Campsfield House
The initial establishment of an immigration detention centre at Campsfield House was opposed by the local parish council, however they were overruled by the Home Office
. The Campaign to Close Campsfield
holds monthly demonstrations outside the premises, using the slogan 'Asylum seekers are not criminals'. They also publish the Campsfield Monitor
which gives detainees accounts of what is happening inside the centre. However, this publication has not seen a new issue for three years. Support for the closure of campsfield is minimal with demonstrations attended by between five and fifteen people (often none at all when raining). The slogan cited above is allegedly of much amusement to the rest of the local community, as the majority of individuals within the centre come from HMP establishments and are indeed criminals.
- Mass escape from detention centre BBC 5 August 2007. "Police arrested 12 of the detainees shortly after the mass escape. ... Police are looking for [another] 14 asylum seekers who escaped from a detention centre after a fire was started there."
- Campsfield's troubled history BBC, 6 August 2007, "There has been a long campaign to close Campsfield House. ... The escape of 26 detainees from Campsfield House in Oxfordshire is the latest in a series of disturbances to hit the immigration removals centre."