New Immigration Removal Centre Planned For Gatwick

A new purpose built Immigration Removal Centre is planned at Gatwick Airport as part of the Government’s drive to deliver a firm but fair immigration and asylum system, the Home Office announced today.

The centre, which will be developed in partnership with BAA Lynton, is another tool in the Government’s five year strategy for asylum and immigration. It will help to ensure that the Government builds on the significant progress it has made already to increase the number of failed asylum seekers and immigration offenders it removes year-on-year.

BAA Lynton, on behalf of the Airport Property Partnership, will shortly commence the process of obtaining planning consent to develop the new site, which is located within the boundary of Gatwick Airport. The Government has already seen the benefits of locating removal centres close to airports with operations at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth, near Heathrow, and at the existing centre at Gatwick, Tinsley House. The latter was also developed by BAA Lynton in a similar way to the new centre being planned. The new centre, which will open in 2008 with around 420 places for male and female detainees, will deliver additional removal spaces quickly and efficiently.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said: “Removing those who have no right to remain in the UK is an integral part of our balanced approach to asylum and immigration, helping us to cut abuse of the system and ensure an efficient end-to-end process.

“The latest figures show that our five year strategy on asylum and immigration is taking effect – asylum applications are at their lowest level since 1994 and removals are on the increase but we recognise that we need to do more to ensure that the public have confidence in a system that is both robust and fair.

“We are working hard to promote alternatives to detention, for example encouraging more people to return voluntarily and exploring other ways of maintaining contact with individuals through electronic monitoring. However, in certain cases detention may be the most appropriate option and this new unit at Gatwick will help ensure that we can continue to detain individuals where necessary to protect the integrity and effectiveness of immigration controls.”

The planned site at Gatwick will maintain the capacity of the detention estate following the closure of Oakington removal centre in Cambridgeshire in Autumn 2006.