Fire risk at Oxfordshire immigration detention centre 'ignored'


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The Independent Online

Fire chiefs warned the Home Office of the fire risk at an immigration detention centre severely damaged by a blaze five years ago.

The 2008 incident, at Campsfield House immigration removal centre, at Kidlington in Oxford, caused millions of pounds' worth of damage to one of the accommodation blocks and resulted in 180 detainees being transferred to other secure units across south-east England.

Chief Fire Officer Dave Etheridge of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "We formally wrote to the Home Office recommending the fitting of sprinklers due to the nature and behaviour of the occupants, plus the high probability of another similar incident.

"The Home Office elected not to fit sprinklers during the refurbishment."

A Home Office spokesman said it took detainees' welfare seriously, adding: "We comply with all relevant fire safety legislation."

MITIE, the company that runs Campsfield House, describes itself as "a leading fire sprinklers company", and built the fire suppression systems on the London Underground. It declined to comment.