Protestors have been gathering outside a controversial detention centre in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the removal of women from the UK to Nigeria.

Members of the No to Hassockfield campaign staged the demonstration outside the Derwentside Immigration Centre today.

Bearing placards and chanting “set them free”, demonstrators claimed those affected had been denied proper legal advice – something which has been denied by the Home Office.

Derwentside Immigration Centre opened in December, replacing Yarl’s Wood as the sole women-only centre in the UK.

Read more: Security to be stepped up at Teesside Airport after men caused £200,000 of damage to plane

It has proved controversial, with frequent protests staged outside the facility.

About 30 people gathered outside the centre today in a bid to prevent vans from entering the site and collecting women. 

There was a significant police presence.

The Northern Echo:

Five people have been arrested on suspicion of blocking the highway and are in police custody.

Campaigners said they had spent eight hours trying to stop the deportation.

A van and coach has left the site this evening. 

It is not known how many asylum seekers were on board.

The Northern Echo:

As the vehicles left, chants of “say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” were heard.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “Police have made five arrests this evening during a demonstration outside the Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre, near Medomsley.

“Approximately 30 people took part in a protest outside the centre today. Five people were arrested on suspicion of obstruction of the highway and remain in police custody”.

Read more: Protest in Durham against Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The public rightly expects the government to remove dangerous foreign criminals and those with no right to be in the UK.

"All asylum and human rights claims are carefully considered in accordance with our international obligations.

"Individuals at Derwentside have always been able to contact their legal representatives easily by telephone, email and video call - and also receive 30 minutes free advice through the legal aid scheme. Meetings in-person are also now able to take place on request."

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

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