Plans for third detention centre near Gatwick under fire

Local campaigners oppose detention of families and children in Crawley

22 January 2010. No Borders Brighton, along with other prominent migrant rights campaigners, will be staging a demonstration against plans by the Arora International Hotels chain to convert the 254-bed Mercure Hotel in Crawley into an Immigration Removal Centre.

From the nature and site of the hotel, the group infers that the planned centre will be dedicated to the detention of families with children.

‘The detention of children in immigration prisons has long been condemned by authorities around the globe for the adverse physical and psychological effects it has on them’, says the No Borders statement sent to all 37 Crawley Borough councillors and to the local Crawley MP in December.

‘In this country these have included the Children’s Commissioner for England Sir Alan Aynsley-Green, Refugee and Migrant Justice (formerly the Refugee Legal Centre) and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to name but a few.’

In December 2009, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health published a briefing paper, also endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing, entitled ‘Significant Harm – the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families’, which declared that the administrative detention of children is unacceptable and should cease without delay.

Gatwick is already the site of two Immigration Removal Centres, Tinsley House and Brook House, both the source of recent criticism.

In particular, Tinsley House is the subject of a highly critical report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers. The report described the arrangements for children at Tinsley House as "wholly unacceptable" and criticised the "prison-like culture" and the "limited access to fresh air" of the children imprisoned there.

The protest will take place outside Crawley Town Hall on Monday 25 January at 6.30pm, when the plans to convert the Mercure Hotel into a detention centre will go before a committee.

The protesters will call for the unconditional withdraw by Arora International Hotels to their application for change of use of Mercure Hotel and, failing that, for Crawley Borough Council to reject the application at the earliest opportunity.

‘Imprisoning children for the ‘crime’ of being a migrant is totally unacceptable’, says No Borders Brighton, ‘and nobody should encourage others to profit from the activity, whatever the situation’.

Hereafter the list of underwriters:

Dr Caroline Lucas – Green Party MEP for SE England

Ben Duncan Brighton and Hove City Councillor, Green Party parliamentary candidate & member of Sussex Police Authority

Tony Greenstein – Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre

Helen M. Hintjens – Senior Lecturer in Development and Social Justice, International Institute of Social Studies, University of Rotterdam

No Borders Brighton

London No Borders

Manchester No Borders

No Borders South Wales
No One Is Illegal

Barbed Wire Britain Network to End Refugee and Migrant Detention

Communities Of Resistance (CoRe)

Fight Racism Fight Imperialism

Detainee Solidarity London

Stop Deportations Network

Kent Refugee Help

Migrant English Project (Brighton)

Long Journey Home

Ethnic Arts Group

Cardiff Refugee & Asylum Seeker Welcome

Cardiff STAR

Cardiff People & Planet

Cardiff University Green Party

SERTUC (South East and Eastern Region TUC)

Check before you travel on Saturday and Sunday 23 & 24 January 2010

‘Higher risk of mental illness in long-term immigrant detainees and asylum seekers’