Immigrants facing deportation staged protests in late December at the Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire. Some detention centre staff were injured.
Morton Hall is used to detain “illegal” migrants before they are deported. Around 50 were involved in a protest about conditions in the centre on Christmas Day, while 40 were involved in a further incident on 30 December. Initial reports, including from the Prison Officers Association (POA), which represents detention centre staff, spoke of a “riot”, but an independent inquiry has since suggested that the POA’s version of events was exaggerated.
The centre holds nearly 400 immigrants awaiting deportation, and in September 2011 saw Afghan asylum seekers go on hunger strike in protest at their deportation back to Afghanistan.
The POA responded by flagging up the dangers to prison staff posed by funding and staffing cuts. They said: “We feel one of our people is going to get killed as staffing levels have been reduced. We will get a member of staff murdered on duty.”
Although violence is regrettable, the blame lies with the immigration system which dehumanises and brutalises individuals and subjects them to detention and deportation back to countries which are often unsafe.
If the POA wants to avoid further incidents of this type, it should argue for the closure of immigration detention centres, the retraining of its members who currently work there into other, useful, jobs, and an immigration system based on freedom of movement and open borders.