Thank you for contacting me about the planned immigration removal centre (IRC) in Medomsley, County Durham.

The Home Office has confirmed that it has acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and that this will open as an IRC by the autumn.

I agree that community-based alternatives to detention should be sought where appropriate. I believe we need to move to a position where only the minimum number of people are detained and only for the minimum length of time. I also think there is clearly more to do to protect vulnerable people in our immigration and asylum system.

The Action Access pilot, which sought to provide an alternative to detention for female asylum seekers, ended in March. The Home Office has said it is working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the National Centre for Social Research to independently evaluate this work. The evaluation is scheduled for publication in June 2021.

I look forward to the results of this evaluation and I hope it will inform the Government’s future approach to alternatives to detention in our immigration and asylum system.

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