Campsfield House IRC – calm and relaxed but needs to understand detainee perceptions of insecurity

Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire was found by inspectors – in its last inspection after the announcement that it is to close – to have a calm and relaxed atmosphere with little evidence of violence.

The centre, in a village near Kidlington, held adult men and has been run by Mitie Care and Custody since May 2011.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “Levels of use of force were low and security was proportionate. Support for those at risk of self-harm was good and levels of self-harm were low.”

He added, however, that some safety indicators were worse than at the time of the previous inspection. “While our in-depth interviews suggested that detainees did not feel physically threatened in the centre, about 40% of respondents to our survey told us that they felt unsafe. The reasons for these feelings of insecurity were unclear and needed further investigation by the centre.”

Though the average length of detention was 55 days, some detainees were held for long periods with limited case progression – one man had been held for one year and five months. About 45% of those held in the previous six months had been released into the community, while about a quarter had been removed.

Delays in arranging escorted removals had significantly increased detention for several detainees. In one case, Mr Clarke said, “it was hard to fathom why a stroke victim in need of social care had been held in the centre. Despite considerable efforts by centre staff, they could not adequately meet his needs.”

Inspectors found the standard of accommodation had worsened; many rooms were bare, and had broken or missing furniture and signs of damp. Many rooms were cramped.

“Most detainees said that they were treated with respect, but we saw too little positive engagement by staff. In our staff interviews, some staff also raised concerns about disrespectful treatment by a few of their colleagues,” Mr Clarke added.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“This is a positive report, with some areas of good practice. However, it is clear that energy and investment are needed to address some developing concerns and to improve the deteriorating accommodation. While events have moved on since the inspection, the Home Office and Mitie should take steps to ensure that the impending closure does not see a deterioration in the treatment of and conditions for detainees.”

– End – 

Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report, published on 25 January 2019, can be found here.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. Originally a young offender institution, the site became an immigration removal centre in 1993. At one time, it held both men and women. Since 1997, it has held only male detainees. The contract to manage Campsfield House on behalf of the Home Office was awarded to Mitie Care and Custody in May 2011.
  4. The centre has a capacity of 257 but at the time of the inspection it held 125 detainees. Some weeks after the inspection, and after this report had been prepared, it was announced that Campsfield House was to close.
  5. The Home Office has announced that Campsfield House immigration removal centre will close by May 2019, when the current management contract with Mitie Care and Custody ends. Consequently, this is the last report on the centre.
  6. This unannounced inspection took place between 10 and 21 September 2018.
  7. For more on how HMI Prisons inspects prisons and other places of detention, please read –
  8. Please contact John Steele at HM Inspectorate of Prisons on 020 3334 0357 or 07880 787452, or at, if you would like more information.