The first week of #Unlocked17 is a gentle introduction to the rest of the tour and we will be sharing with you some basic information about immigration detention centres.

First, a quiz for beginners!  Can you answer these questions?

1) Name all nine immigration detention centres (which are officially called Immigration Removal Centres) in the UK.

2) Of those nine, which ones are run by HM Prison Service?

3) Name three residential Short Term Holding Facilities (STHFs) in the UK.  And how long can people be detained at STHFs?

4) At which detention centres are women detained?

1) The nine detention centres in the UK are as follows:

  • Dungavel (Scotland)
  • Morton Hall (Lincolnshire)
  • Campsfiled House (Oxfordshire)
  • Yarls Wood (Bedforeshire)
  • Harmondsworth (London)
  • Colnbrook (London)
  • Tinsley House (West Sussex)
  • Brook House (West Sussex)
  • The Verne (Dorset – due to close down at the end of Dec 2017)

Two detention centres closed down relatively recently: both Haslar and Dover detention centres closed down in 2015.  You can read about Haslar closure here in our #Unlocked15 blog here.  The latest addition to the existing detention centre is the Verne (Feb 2015) but this centre is also to be closed down soon.

All together, the overall capacity of the UK’s detention estate is about 3,000 beds.

While monitoring bodies and organisations who visit these centres do share information about these centres, the amount of information made available about each of these centres by the UK government is extremely limited.  For example, this GOV.UK webpage only provides each detention centre’s address, the visiting hours, how to make an appointment and some information about how to get there.  Although the website says it tells you ‘what items you’re allowed to take with you’, in reality, it doesn’t.

2) Morton Hall and The Verne are run by HM Prison Service, while the rest are run by various private security companies – see below for more information.

3) Residential Short Term Holding Facilities are lesser known than larger immigration detention centres.   There are Pennine House (at Manchester Airport, run by Tascor), Larne House (in Northern Ireland, run by Tascor) and Yarl’s Wood (Bunting Unit for men inside Yarls Wood detention centre).   While there is no overall time limit for immigration detention, people are only supposed to be held in Short Term Holding Facilities up to seven days.

There are also non-residential Short Term Holding Facilities where people can be detained up to 24 hours.  Some people are also detained under immigration powers in prisons.

4) This question really seems to throw people.  Although “Yarls Wood = detention of women” has become relatively well-known, Yarls Wood is not the only place where women can be detained.  Dungavel detention centre in Scotland also detains women.  There is also a family unit within Tinsley detention centre where women can be detained.  A new unit in Tinsley House that replaces Cedars Pre-Departure Accommodation is also likely to detain women if part of families with children.  Women are also detained at Pennine House and Larne House Short Term Holding Facilities and in some prisons (as ‘immigration detainees’).

The Detention Forum team