Monday 31 January 2011

New Crawley Immigration Detention Facility

It looks like those nice people at Arora Hotels, not having learnt their lesson from the Mercure Hotel farce, still have the hots for getting in to the business of locking children up. Yes, they are in the process of submitting plans to turn Crawley Forest School, a residential school for children with behavioural & learning difficulties, into one of the new so-called 'Pre-Departure Accommodation facilities' that have been cobbled together as a sop to their Lib Dem Coalition partners as part of the lie of ending "child detention for immigration purposes".

Having put forward a speculative planning application in 2009 to turn what was a less than profitable Crawley hotel (the Mercure) into a much more lucrative secure detention centre (i.e. prison, or even more accurately, internment camp) to hold refugee children and families, despite the Home Office and UK Borders Agency not being in the loop, it seems that their efforts have put them on the map for future Home Office plans. So, as the Home Office rushes to find premises for these detention centre-lite facilities and save face on Nick Clegg's behalf, Arora appear to have seen yet another opportunity to join the big table of Prison Industrial Complex companies by fobbing off another of their failed enterprises, namely the Crawley Forest School [1], onto the Borders Agency and finally make a killing in the detention centre game.

At least Arora are claiming that the Crawley Forest School is a failed enterprise as there are currently only 8 residential pupils despite the school being opened to house 35 residential pupils (and 35 day pupils) [see the circular]. The school itself apparently disputes this assertion, claiming that it was only ever equipped to accommodate 12-18 pupils. Clearly someone is being more than economic with the truth. The school (which, up until being contacted by local objectors, was total unaware of the plans for the detention facility) has also been given a rather precipitous deadline of 1 April this year to pack its bags and leave, in order to all time to convert the buildings into this 'Pre-Departure Accommodation facility' by the Coalition's self-imposed deadline of 11 May. [2]

Another 'less than correct statement' apparently contained in the circular is that "[t]he children will be relocated to alternative school accommodation for the start of the Summer term". According to the school again the residential pupils are in fact merely being returned to the care of their local councils and families rather than being found alternative accommodation by The Crossroads Childrens Education Services Ltd., as the circular clearly implies. It seems that you can't trust anyone when a quick buck is to be made from imprisoning children, especially where the Arora Group and its minions are concerned.

No Borders Brighton says: No To 'Pre-Departure Accommodation' facilities and No To Child Detention in any form. Not in Pease Pottage or in Anyone's Back Yard!

[1] Run by The Crossroads Group [registered company name: The Crossroads Childrens Education Services Ltd. and not to be confused with the US hedge fund!], a wholly owned subsidiary of the Arora Group, it occupies the old BAA training centre in Pease Pottage at the southern end of the M23.
[2] The date they promised to end the detention of children by - yet how this can be equated with the ending of the detention of children completely escapes the author. Admittedly some children will be "permitted to leave the facility for short period such as to visit the shops or cinema, subject to a risk assessment and suitable adult supervision to ensure their safe-guarding and welfare are protected", but their parent's will still be held 'hostage' as guarantee against their safe return.

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