Detention centres to be expanded

A large-scale expansion of Britain's immigration detention centres was announced by the Home Office yesterday.

Asylum and refugee groups have voiced concern at the controversial plan, which could mean as many as 1,500 additional detention places by 2012. The places are partly intended to "fast track" asylum-seekers – by locking them up on arrival in the country.

Donna Covey of the Refugee Council, said: " These are people who have committed no crime, and who are often extremely vulnerable, yet who are locked up in circumstances where there is little access to information and not knowing how long they will be imprisoned."

The Immigration minister, Liam Byrne, said by holding new asylum-seekers in detention and fast-tracking them their cases could be decided more quickly.