CAMPAIGNERS have staged a demonstration at the office of North East MP over his support for a controversial detention centre in his constituency.

People opposed to the opening of Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre were at Richard Holden’s office on Medomsley Road in Consett on Saturday.

Yellow and blue hearts to show solidarity with Ukraine and slogans in favour of closing the facility were stuck to the windows of the premises.

The centre houses up to 80 women awaiting deportation following their unsuccessful application for asylum in the UK.

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It opened in December in the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, near Consett, which is on the site of the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre where boys were systemically abused during the 60s and 70s.

The Northern Echo: Campaigners at the site on Saturday. Picture: SIMONE J RUDOLPHI PHOTOGRPAHY Campaigners at the site on Saturday. Picture: SIMONE J RUDOLPHI PHOTOGRPAHY

The protest was organised by the No To Hassockfield Campaign and campaigners also demonstrated at the site as part of their monthly protests.

A statement on the group’s Facebook page said: “Recently, the coverage of refugees from Ukraine has rightly raised awareness about the plight of people fleeing from war and the barriers that the Home Office poses for freedom of movement and refugee resettlement.

“The fact that very few Ukrainians have so far been issued with visas is a disgrace.

“However, relatively little media coverage has been given to refugees displaced from other conflicts, who because they are not European, are treated with racist contempt.”

“In recent years we have seen huge numbers of people displaced by war and environmental destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Palestine and many more places. Britain is complicit in many of these conflicts, militarily, through the arms trade or through a scramble for control of resources and investments.

“We stand with all refugees and demand freedom of movement for all those displaced.”

The Home Office has said immigration removal centres such as Derwentside enable the UK to remove foreign national offenders and those with no right to be in the UK.

A spokesperson told the Northern Echo vulnerable people are only detained when the evidence of vulnerability is outweighed by the immigration considerations, such as risk of non-compliance with immigration bail or for the protection of the public.

The Home Office has also said the Nationality and Borders Bill will ‘fix the broken asylum system making it easier to remove those with no right to be here and making it fairer to those who need our help’.

The Northern Echo: Richard Holden MP at his office Richard Holden MP at his office

North West Durham MP Richard Holden said: “I understand that some Labour activists and their friends want the UK to have totally open borders and want no-one, even if they have no right to remain in the UK, including those convicted of serious criminal acts, to be deported.

“I back strong borders which allows the U.K. to determine who comes in to our country.

“This is the only way to ensure genuine refugees are protected and that we can have a managed immigration system.”


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