Cambridgeshire

Date set for Oakington immigration centre closure

Oakington Immigration Reception Centre
Image caption About 300 people are employed at Oakington, near Cambridge

A date has been set for the closure of the Oakington immigration detention centre in Cambridgeshire.

The centre, which is run by the UK Border Agency, will close by 12 November this year, Immigration Minister Damian Green said.

About 300 people are employed at the facility, with 200 working for security company G4S along with 100 sub-contractors.

G4S will begin discussions with unions regarding the closure.

Mr Green said: "For the past 10 years, Oakington has housed hundreds of immigration offenders and allowed us to remove those with no right to be in the country.

Consultation process

"However, it was a temporary solution and we never intended to use this facility long term.

"We have recently expanded our detention estate and this has included the opening of two new wings at Harmondsworth this week."

Oakington was criticised in a report in 2008 when chief prison inspector Anne Owers said the facility had "lost direction and purpose" and inmates felt unsafe.

She blamed some of the apparent problems on uncertainty over the centre's future, which had been due to close in 2006 but had its life extended.

A G4S spokesperson said of the closure: "The care and welfare of our people at Oakington is of paramount importance. We have spoken to them regarding the closure and have made contact with the unions to arrange a meeting so that we can commence the consultation process.

"Obviously we are disappointed with today's news but will work closely with the UK Border Agency during the coming months to ensure the closure is effected as smoothly as possible."

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