UK Border Agency Detention Centre
Update: the detention centre was closed in 2016. Refugees who would have been detained at this site are instead detained at Tinsley House in Crawley.
The UK Border Agency Detention Centre in Pease Pottage is an internment camp for refugee families with children, who are awaiting deportation.
Up-to-date information about the detention centre can be found on the London Noborders website.
Arora Hotels made a planning application to Mid Sussex District Council, proposing to convert the building into an internment camp for refugees. The planning application was approved on 24 March 2011.
It has been claimed that the contract for the camp in Pease Pottage was awarded to Arora without the public tendering process that is required by law. If this is true, it is more likely to be a device for avoiding public discussion rather than because of the financial corruption that most people associate with under-the-counter local government activities.
For the same reason, the Home Office instructed Mid Sussex District Council to ensure that details of the planning application were kept secret from the general public. At the time of writing, copies of the request could be found on Mid Sussex District Council’s Public Access Planning website – see the two PDF documents listed under ‘correspondence’ in the left-hand frame.
Arora’s Previous Planning Application
In 2009, Arora tried unsuccessfully to convert one of their hotels, the Mercure Hotel in Crawley, into an internment camp.
Public Subsidy, Private Profit
Although the planning application was made by Arora, the camp is run on behalf of the UK Border Agency by G4S (formerly Group 4 Securicor) under a public subsidy, private profit arrangement. There are two similar detention centres a few miles away in Crawley, Tinsley House and Brook House, which are both run by G4S under the same arrangement. For more about the role of G4S in the UK Border Agency’s mistreatment of children, see this article .
G4S appear to have disguised their involvement in other subsidised-profit accommodation for children by making planning applications in the names of their executives for converting houses into children’s homes in Aylesbury, Great Linford, and Middleton Cheney, all of which are in Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.
Through public subsidies and low wages (more here), the owners of G4S were able to make a profit of about £250 million in 2010 and £198 million in 2011. Find out more about the deportation system and the multi-million pound contracts to be made from it.
Complaints of Violence and Corruption
As well as substantial revenue, G4S’s immigration contracts generated more than 700 complaints in 2010, many of them in connection with its activities at Brook House. There have been many cases of violence and racial abuse. Several people in the company’s custody have died, the best-known victim probably being Jimmy Mubenga.
Brook House was also the venue for what Mr Justice Mostyn described as a “corrupt and truly shocking” incident in which G4S employees forged an official document which allowed a refugee to be returned to his country to face torture (see this report).
In 2012 G4S were found by the Prisons Inspectorate to have used “substantial force” which carried a “significant risk of injury” on a pregnant wheelchair-bound detainee at the Pease Pottage detention centre.
The Medical Justice Network has published a well-documented and comprehensive account of the physical abuses suffered by detainees, both adults and children, at Cedars detention centre.
Barnardo’s and the Pease Pottage Detention Centre
The children’s charity, Barnardo’s, was approached to provide some care for the children in detention. Its involvement was reported to have strongly influenced the council’s decision to approve the application.
Barnardo’s seems to have a history of ethically dubious collaboration with the state, having reportedly made use of a forced labour scheme in the late 1990s. In this newspaper article , Barnardo’s chief executive makes a case in favour of the charity’s involvement in the Pease Pottage detention centre. In this report, she is quoted as agreeing with the contentious notion that refugees ought to be deported, as long as they are deported nicely.
For an example of the kind of treatment that Barnardo’s actions help to legitimise, see this report by SchNEWS .
Detaining Children is Harmful
The University of Huddersfield’s Centre for Applied Childhood Studies submitted a document to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, describing the harm caused by detaining children, and arguing that current UK policy is inadequate.
Care, Assistance and Legal Advice
Several organisations attempt to provide care and assistance to detainees at internment camps such as Cedars in Pease Pottage:
- Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
- Association for Visitors to Immigration Detainees
- Detention Action
- Bail for Immigration Detainees
Coram Children’s Legal Centre provides two phone lines for legal advice:
- 08088 020 008 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm): free legal advice on English law and policy affecting children and families
- 0207 636 8505 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm): free legal advice on the rights of young refugees and migrants
Location and Travelling Directions
Please note that the Pease Pottage internment camp is on Brighton Road in Pease Pottage, not Brighton Road in Crawley, which is a couple of miles to the north.
It is on a 6-acre site formerly occupied by Crawley Forest School, and before that, the BAA Training Centre. Even earlier, there was a pleasant cottage on the site, as seen in this photograph on the Slaugham Archives website dating from 1916. The camp is next door to G & GW Bridges’ car breaker’s yard :
Travelling by Car
From the A23 and junction 11 of the M23:
- Follow the signs for the B2114 to Handcross.
- Carry on past the motorway service station.
- Go straight on at the small roundabout.
- The internment camp is a couple of hundred yards along on the left-hand side of the road, immediately after the entrance to the car scrap yard. There is a green sign outside, with the word ‘Cedars’ on it. The name appears to be a recent invention, without historical authenticity, but it gives the camp a nice, friendly image.
Travelling by Train and Bus
Three Bridges station is about 5 miles away. There are plenty of taxis outside Crawley and Three Bridges stations.
- no email
- 01293 844900
- Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, RH11 9AD