PROTESTORS opposed to a new holding centre for failed female asylum seekers facing deportation staged a further demonstration at the site today.

Members of human rights groups held their latest rally in support of the first women brought to the recently opened Hassockfield/Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), at Medomsley, near Consett.

Campaigners gathered outside the facility, on the site of the former Medomsley Detention Centre, to demonstrate their support for the women transferred to the IRC, from the former facility in Bedfordshire, between Christmas and New Year.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the opening of the new detention centre for women in November, two days before 27 people drowned in the English Channel trying to reach the UK from France.

The centre was scheduled to open mid-Autumn, but finally received its first prisoners in the last days of 2021.

Today’s protest is the seventh monthly rally and follows what campaigners described as, “a successful emergency demonstration”, on Sunday January 2.

Although called at short notice, it saw more than 70 participants gather, singing loudly enough for the women inside to apparently hear they have support from local people who want to see an end to detention at the site.

Agnes Tanoh, of the group Women for Refugee Women, who has launched a petition calling for the centre’s closure, said: “Detention tears families apart, destroys women’s mental health and achieves nothing other than extreme harm.

“It is a real evil act by the Home Office to move women to the new Derwentside detention centre just after Christmas.

“Imagine their terror as they were transported on that long journey from Yarl’s Wood, in Bedfordshire, to this new detention centre in County Durham.”

She said she wants the Home Office to close the centre and, "to treat women seeking asylum with humanity and kindness.”

Ms Tanoh added: “Women seeking asylum need protection and freedom.

“They should never be locked up like this.

“It’s time to shut down all detention centres.”

The centre is classed as a Category 3-style detention facility for women, some of whom will have committed a crime, but who are likely to have already served a prison sentence.

Women for Refugee Women claimed more than 85-per cent of the women detained in the Yarl’s Wood centre experienced rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, forced prostitution or female genital mutilation.

The Home Office has said immigration detention plays, "a crucial role in a robust immigration system," and states that, “a significant proportion” of women detained are facing deportation because of criminal offences committed in this country.