Refugee detention camp 'a shambles'

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The Independent Online
A DETENTION camp for asylum seekers and refugees where rioting took place last August has been criticised by Sir David Ramsbotham, the Chief Inspector of Prisons as a "complete and utter shambles".

Sir David, in a letter obtained by Channel 4 News, also expresses concern about the role of Group 4, the private company running Campsfield centre, near Kidlington in Oxfordshire, saying it was in an impossible situation. The private security guards have been accused by some of the 200 detainees at the camp of racist behaviour.

In a further embarrassment for the Home Office a representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has also condemned Britain's treatment of refugees. Peter van der Vaart, speaking on Channel 4 News, said: "Britain has more asylum seekers in detention for longer ... than any other European countries." He added that Britain was "walking a tightrope" in terms of human rights for the refugees.

Sir David's comments follow an inspection he carried out shortly after last August's riot in which 16 detainees were arrested. Nine are still awaiting trial. In a letter in October to a campaign group he described Campsfield, which was opened in 1993, as a "complete and utter shambles."

Mike O'Brien, the Home Office minister responsible for immigration policy, said that the Government was very concerned about the issue and had set up a review to re-examine how asylum seekers are dealt with when they reach Britain.