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Immigration detention centre of ‘untold suffering’ to close

Morton Hall in Lincolnshire is set to return to its original use as a prison next year

AN IMMIGRATION detention centre which caused “untold suffering” to its detainees, including four who died in the space of a year, is set to close.

Morton Hall in Swinderby, Lincolnshire, will return to its original use as a prison next year, according to the Ministry of Justice. 

Those being held there will be transferred to other detention centres in the coming months. 

Bail for Immigration Detainees, a legal-support group, said that Morton Hall has been a site of “untold suffering.”

The group’s research and policy co-ordinator, Rudy Schulkind, said: “It is impossible to understate the damage it has done to people’s lives — in a 12 month period during 2016/17, four people died in Morton Hall.” 

One of those was Carlington Spencer, a Jamaican-born 38-year-old man who died from a stroke in 2017. 

An inquest found that a failure by staff to manage his type-one diabetes and recognise his symptoms may have contributed to his death. 

The closure follows an Independent Monitoring Board report last month which found that levels of self-harm at the site were of “significant concern.”

The watchdog also raised concerns that men who had been diagnosed with severe mental health issues had been held in detention for up to 70 days before being transferred to a specialist unit. 

Morton Hall has been deemed particularly harmful to detainees due to its jail-like conditions and remote location, making it difficult for family and friends to visit. 

Although the closure has been celebrated by campaigners, they warned that the Home Office must not pursue plans to replace it. 

“To plough public funds into replacing it, at the current moment, would be nothing short of scandalous,” Mr Schulkind continued.

“This must be part of a broader process that ends the inhumane practice of immigration detention once and for all.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Following the decision by HM Prison Service, Morton Hall will return to its use as a prison in 2021.

“Those in detention at Morton Hall will be transferred to other immigration removal centres. This will be managed carefully with each individual assessed prior to their transfer.”

Morton Hall was run as a women’s prison between 1985 and 2011. 

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