On October 21st campaign groups gathered to protest at Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre for the first time since the announcement of its change from a women’s to a men’s detention centre. The change was confirmed last week in a letter to Durham County Council and in a statement to the BBC. Mary Kelly Foy MP for the City of Durham has also submitted a written parliamentary question about the change.
The issues remain the same, whoever is locked up
In June 2023 the government appointed, Independent Monitoring Board chairperson, Jane Leech MBE, said in the IMB annual report about Derwentside, “Given the concerns we have highlighted about Derwentside’s location throughout our first year of monitoring, we are asking the Immigration Minister to reconsider its suitability as an immigration removal centre. We feel that these long and frequent journeys, combined with difficulties in maintaining family contact, are damaging to the women concerned – bearing in mind that many are extremely vulnerable, and may well have been trafficked.”
The campaign groups are united in belief that these issues are the same for men as they are for women, with particular risks for gay men, trans, bi- and queer people, and will continue to campaign to see the site closed.
We remain clear, Derwentside should be shut down and people in the local communities should be given the opportunity to determine its future, not Westminster politicians and their profiteering ‘public service company’ cronies. None of us are free until all of us are free.
National Demonstration in November
We’ll soon be publishing news of our November demonstration, when groups from around the country will join us. Meanwhile we’ll be taking our national call to stop the injustice of detention to politicians and to communities in our own region – as we did last week in Sunderland. And we’ll be calling for the Home Office to reconsider the promising findings of its own abandoned pilots trialling community alternatives to detention.