‘Palatial’ deportation centre to close – because it isn’t being USED enough

A PLUSH deportation centre for families facing removal from the UK is set to close – because it isn’t being used enough.


The detention centre is due to close due to being underused

The Cedars centre, near Gatwick Airport and described as “palatial”, features a gym, an all-weather football pitch, a library, IT rooms, a chapel, a lounge and a play room complete with games consoles for children.

Detainees were even provided with mobile phones upon arrival, to “help maintain telephone contact with family, friends and legal representatives”, a scathing report revealed today.

It has housed 45 families since 2014 – with just 16 subsequently being removed from the country.

Many forced deportations failed due to legal challenges.

Described by a watchdog as “little used”, the expensive centre will now be replaced with a more cost-effective unit.


One of the apartments within the Cedars complex

HM Inspectorate of Prisons described the comfortable surroundings as “essentially an extended Edwardian house set in extensive grounds”.

Its report said the centre, which consists of of nine apartments of between one and three bedrooms, was “fitted out to very high standards”.

It said: “The grounds have play equipment, seating and sufficient space for families to take exercise and relax.”

Cedars was opened in 2011 to hold families who were subject to immigration control ahead of their removal from the UK. The average length of detention at Cedars was around three days.


The garden at the Cedars detention centre

The Home Office claimed the low level of use of Cedars is a testament to the overall success of the family returns process and the fact more families are accepting voluntary assistance to leave the UK when they no longer have a lawful basis to stay.

A spokeswoman for the department said: “We welcome the Chief Inspectorate of Prisons’ findings and are clear that the welfare and safeguarding of children will remain at the heart of the family returns process.


A children’s play area at the Cedars detention centre

“Stephen Shaw’s independent review into the welfare of vulnerable people in detention recommended that we should draw up plans either to close Cedars or to change its use on value-for-money grounds.

“We accepted this and will be replacing Cedars with alternative pre-departure accommodation that will continue to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.”

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