No Borders Brighton are currently seeking endorsements for a public statement condemning the attempt by Arora International Hotels to seek planning permission to convert the 254-bed Mercure Hotel in Crawley into a detention centre. We plan to send copies to all 37 Crawley Borough councillors and release the statement to the press prior to the planning meeting, currently scheduled for 25 January.
We therefore ask all interested organisations and individuals who wish to put their names to the statement below to e-mail us by 15 January with their endorsements.
The Arora International Hotels chain wishes to convert the 254-bed Mercure Hotel in Povey Cross Road, Crawley into an Immigration Removal Centre. Due to the nature of the existing building and the site it occupies, it could only be converted into a detention centre to house families and children.
The detention of children in immigration prisons has long been condemned by authorities around the globe for the adverse physical and psychological effects it has on them. In this country these have included the Children's Commissioner for England Sir Alan Aynsley-Green, Refugee and Migrant Justice (formerly the Refugee Legal Centre) and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to name but a few.
Just this month (December 2009), the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health (and endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing) published a briefing paper entitled 'Significant Harm - the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families', which declared that the administrative detention of children is unacceptable and should cease without delay.
Gatwick is already the site of two Immigration Removal Centres, Tinsley House and Brook House, both the source of recent criticism. In particular, Tinsley House is the subject of a highly critical report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers, regarding an unannounced short follow-up inspection on 13–15 July 2009, published on 18 December. The report described the arrangements for children at Tinsley House as "wholly unacceptable" and criticised the "prison-like culture" and the "limited access to fresh air" of the children imprisoned there.
We the undersigned call on Arora International Hotels to unconditionally withdraw their application for change of use of Mercure Hotel and, failing that, for Crawley Borough Council to reject the application at the earliest opportunity. Imprisoning children for the 'crime' of being a migrant is totally unacceptable and nobody should encourage others to profit from the activity, whatever the situation.