No To Hassockfield is a campaign set up in early 2021 to fight for the closure of the new Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) for women in County Durham. Originally known as Hassockfield, it has now been renamed as Derwentside. It replaces Yarl’s Wood as the main IRC for women in the UK.
The IRC is contracted to be run by Mitie Group PLC , an outsourcing giant and the largest provider of immigration detention in the UK. It’s one of the biggest profiteers of the ongoing hostile environment towards people seeking sanctuary and other migrants.
The IRC has accommodation for around 80 beds. It has a constantly shifting number of women occupants, detained for different reasons having been refused the right to remain in the UK, though the appeal cases of many are still ongoing.
WHO ARE WE?
- No To Hassockfield comprises individuals from different backgrounds and careers who are against the use of immigration detention. We believe detention has no place in our asylum system, and detaining women is particularly cruel and needless.
- We are a cross-party campaign including non-political members, as well as labour, liberal democrat and green activists.
- Members of our group come from the local region but also from beyond North East England. This is incredibly important to us, because what we are witnessing in Hassockfield/Derwentside is not a local problem, it is a national one. And national problems require national efforts.
- No To Hassockfield works closely with other organisations including but not limited to: Oxford Against Detention (formerly the Close Campsfield campaign), Detention Forum, Yarls Wood Campaigners, Duncan Lewis Solicitors, Women for Refugee Women, AVID, Women’s Aid, Migrant & Justice Forum, North East Against Racism, West End Refugee Service (WERS), Mental Health North East (MHNE), End Deportations Belfast, Abolish Detention and Durham People’s Assembly.
- We co-ordinate regular demonstrations outside the gates of the IRC and hold monthly Zoom Meetings for our members. Our Core Group of active campaigners meets in between for planning and admin purposes.
WHERE IS HASSOCKFIELD?
Hassockfield/Derwentside IRC is situated between Durham and Consett, outside the remote village of Medomsley – a name still notorious locally as the site of the former Medomsley Detention Centre, where large scale abuse of young men in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s was uncovered in Operation Seabrook, begun in 2013.
- The site was purchased by the Home Office and its buildings refurbished following their most recent use as Hassockfield secure training unit. Cost: approx £18.7 million (data via Home Office FoI request No 68783)
- The IRC opened in December 2021 and is being run on a two year contract by Mitie. Cost: approx £16.6 million (data from this link to government contract finder). This works out at almost £100,000 per year for each detainee.
- We hold monthly public zoom meetings to share updates and information, discuss upcoming events and hear from specialists in asylum and immigration policy. Please use our contact form to get in touch for the dates and zoom link.
- On the 1st Sunday of every Month at 3pm a vigil takes place at the site as an opportunity for multiple faiths and religious groups to come together in opposition.
- On the 3rd Saturday of every Month at 12pm a demonstration takes place at the site where we aim to show solidarity with the women detained by making noise, playing music, shouting chants and sharing speeches.
- We try to have a small presence at the site every other Saturday from 11am.
- We can pass on exact details of the IRC location on request.
- If you are in a position to support us financially, to help fund our publicity and campaigning, please do donate.
- You can donate via PayPal or Bank Transfer or click the Donate button.
WHO ARE DETAINED ?
The Immigration Removal Centre, run by the Home Office, has capacity for approximately 80 women and operates similarly to a Category 3 Prison. These are women whose asylum claim have failed, alongside those who have served a prison sentence of more than 12 months, generally for petty crimes, or who have broken immigration laws.
In 2019 over half – 61% – of the people held in immigration detention centres eventually gained their freedom to live in and contribute to the community.
The figure for 2020 was 74%, and for women in 2018 it was 86%. So for most people detained, the Home Office’s decision to detain is successfully challenged. Immigration detention serves no acceptable purpose.
Notes on “People at the end of the asylum application process” :
- In fact some of the women held in immigration detention centres have exercised their right to claim asylum but their claim has not been refused. Others so described will have an appeal or other further challenge in process.
- Others are stateless people: they cannot be deported.
- Still others come from countries such as Iraq or Somalia to which they cannot be deported because it is recognised that it is too dangerous for them to return for a variety of reasons including religious persecution, anti LGBT laws and traditional practices such as FGM.
- Some are time-served former prisoners who do not have a UK passport: The government calls them ‘Foreign National Offenders’. They are ex-offenders. They have served a prison sentence following conviction often for a relatively minor offence, i.e not violence to the person. Everyone should be treated equally before the law. Someone who has served their time should not be doubly punished with deportation should their case still be awaiting resolution.