Mute Magazine, 25 June 2008
Riot at Campsfield Detention Centre
Indymedia report from http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/06/401100.html
Reports are emerging of what appears to have been a riot at Campsfield House, an immigration detention centre in Oxfordshire. Details at this point are sketchy, but it appears that small fires were started and that detainees were returned to their cells by prison officers in riot gear. According to corporate media accounts, there was a heavy police presence with some 50 officers in attendance and a helicopter overhead. A cordon was set up and dog handlers patrolled the perimeter. This is the latest in a series of “disturbances” at the facility. In August last year, 26 immigrants managed to escape. Prior to that in March, an Algerian man attempted to forcefully resist efforts by immigration authorities to remove him. When fellow detainees attempted to help him a riot ensued in which 2 detainees and 7 staff staff were hospitalised.
BBC report 14th June Riot alert at immigration centre from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/7454814.stm
A team of prison officers has helped to restore order at an immigration detention centre after a disturbance. The team, dressed in riot gear, went into Campsfield House in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, to escort detainees back to their rooms, the Home Office said. Earlier small fires had been started and one person suffered smoke inhalation, but no detainees escaped. Detainees were held in an exercise yard to calm down. It is the latest in a number of disturbances at the centre. A Home Office spokeswoman said on Saturday evening: “There is no trouble ongoing. Everything is under control, it is being wound down.” Troubled past Earlier about 10 fire engines, 50 police officers and a police helicopter were sent to the scene after smoke was seen billowing from the centre. A police cordon was set up around the centre and dog handlers patrolled the perimeters. There were no serious injuries reported. This is the fourth reported disturbance in the last 16 months Evan Harris, local MP The Home Office spokeswoman said: “It hasn’t been a major incident. It is all over now and people are being taken back to their rooms.” There have been a series of problems at the centre. In March 2007 nine people were hurt in a disturbance and in August last year 26 men fled after a fire, with eight still on the run. Another 120 detainees rioted in December. Evan Harris, Liberal Democrats MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said: “The primary concern is for the safety of the inmates and staff. “This is the fourth reported disturbance in the last 16 months and suggests there is something seriously wrong either with the Home Office systems or the management of the centre.” Campsfield was converted to a detention centre holding 200 male asylum seekers in 1993 and is run by the American company GEO.
|Disturbance at Campsfield House|
|Saturday, 14 June 2008|
Fire broke out at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre on Saturday 14th, with plumes of smoke reportedly visible.
It is believed small fires were started, but were limited to one block of the facility.
Violent disturbances were reported, with a number of inmates reportedly smashing furniture and climbing onto the roof.
There was a heavy police presence and 10 fire engines are understood to have attended, as well as a police helicopter and paramedics. One detainee was apparently seen being put into an ambulance.
A inmate told independent news site Indymedia that the incident began around lunchtime, with detainees protesting over detention times. Detainees were held in an exercise yard during the incident.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Police were asked by the UK Border Agency for assistance and police have secured the perimeter, which has not been breached.
“Specially trained prison officers have been sent to the site in riot gear in case they are needed to go inside.”
This is not the first time the controversial detention centre has seen such an incident. In July last year 26 people escaped after a fire, with 8 still on the run, and there have been two further incidents in the last 16 months.
In a video investigation for Cherwell last term, Nejra Cehic uncovered allegations of violence within Campsfield House and examined the plight of failed asylum seekers.
Campsfield House is run by the UK branch of private American firm GEO Group Inc.
|Inmates escape from Campsfield|
|Tuesday, 24 June 2008|
|Seven detainees escaped from Campsfield on Thursday, with three believed to be still at large|
There was further embarrassment for the Government and Campsfield House contractor GEO as seven detainees escaped from the Immigration Removal Centre on Thursday. Three remain at large.
The escape is the latest in a series of damaging incidents at the detention centre, the most recent being when inmates started several small fires and rioted on 14th June. Riot police and a helicopter were called in by Campsfield staff.
Last August saw 26 inmates escape from the detention centre, with 8 still at large, and detainees also rioted last December.
The three escapees are Mohammed Aref Hosseini, Abdesalam Tark Ben, and Abdelhak Morid, who are described as ‘low risk’ illegal immigrants.
Oxford MP Evan Harris, speaking at the time of the escape, said: “This further incident at Campsfield House is unacceptable for local residents and for the welfare of staff and detainees alike.
“It seems that lessons have not been learned following previous disturbances and it is time for a proper, fully independent investigation.
“There is something wrong with the way the Home Office is operating the system, or the way GEO is running the centre and I will be speaking to Home Office minister Liam Byrne as soon as possible.”
The incidents have fuelled criticism of the contractor GEO, a UK subsidiary of American firm GEO Group Inc. GEO have repeatedly refused to comment on allegations surrounding Campsfield.
The Home Office has since confirmed that Immigration minister Liam Byrne will review the firm’s contract after the latest incident.
There are plans for a similar detention centre to be built near Bicester.