CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the announcement that plans for an immigration style prison centre, in County Durham, have been opposed by Durham County Council.

Members of the No To Hassockfield Campaign Group say that Durham County Council’s agreement that the site at Hassockfield is not suitable to become an immigration removal centre is a game changer in their fight to prevent the site of the notorious former Medomsley Detention Centre being used to detain women asylum seekers.  

The original Labour Party motion taken to full council on Wednesday July 14 was deliberately amended by the cross-party Joint Administration at County Hall.

Their amendment included the words, “Durham County Council does not believe that the use of Hassockfield as an Immigration Removal Centre is an acceptable use of this site.”  

The council also made clear how few of the people who would be detained offer any threat to society, stating, “It is acknowledged that most detainees in this type of facility are not criminals and that 86 per cent of women detained in 2018 secured their freedom and now contribute positively to our society.”  

The chair of the No To Hassockfield campaign group, Owen Temple, welcomed the council’s decision and commented that this decision by the council changes the whole dynamic of the debate.  

“For too long the people of North West Durham have been fed the line that the centre will be filled with criminals who will be deported for the protection of society,” said Owen.

“The County council has now clearly challenged that view, and opponents of the scheme are eager to work with the Council in any way possible to prevent the site from being used as an immigration detention centre.”