A new immigration removal centre, Morton Hall, has been officially opened by the immigration minister Damian Green today, increasing capacity in the detention estate as the government intensifies enforcement activity across the country.
Once full, the former prison will accommodate 392 men in order to facilitate their removal from the UK. They will include illegal over-stayers and failed asylum seekers as well as foreign national prisoners.
Immigration removal centres (IRCs) give the UK Border Agency the ability to detain people while their removal from the UK is being organised. They also ensure that foreign national prisoners due for deportation are not allowed back into the community before they are removed. Last year more than 16,500 people were removed from the UK directly from removal centres.
Statement from minister
Immigration minister Damian Green said: ‘A tough system of enforcement and removal is one of the cornerstones of our reformed immigration system. This new facility is a welcome addition to the UK Border Agency’s estate and will help us remove more individuals who have no right to be here.
‘Let the message be clear, the UK is no longer an easy touch for illegal immigrants. We are reforming the system to make it more effective to ensure those with no right to be here are removed.’
The first detainees were accepted into the IRC last month and the centre will be fully operational by September this year.
The opening of this new centre now means that the UK Border Agency can hold up to 3,400 people in detention at any one time. This will allow more foreign nationals with no right to be here to be removed from the UK in the coming years.
The unveiling of additional detention space comes as the UK Border Agency is intensifying enforcement activity across the country to crackdown on the people organising and driving immigration crime like illegal working, sham marriages and bogus colleges.
The government has already launched two nationwide enforcement campaigns and the UK Border Agency’s enforcement activity has resulted in 1,400 arrests, 330 prosecutions and 260 removals.
Notes to editors
1. Morton Hall in Lincolnshire was formally a female prison which was decommissioned on 31 March to open as an IRC for 392 single men. It will be operated under a Service Level Agreement by the Prison Service for an initial three years.
2. The refurbishment of the prison began on 24 February 2011 and works will continue until September 2011. The centre has been operating since 16 May 2010.
A full list of the agency’s detention estate can be found on the UK Border Agency website.
Photos of Morton Hall can be downloaded from the Flickr link below.