week as detainees talk of mistreatment and medical neglect. This is
contrary to official reports which are not treating the death as
suspicious. Detainees inside the centre have been in contact with
Cambridge Migrant Solidarity (CMS) following a solidarity demo by
Cambridge residents on Sunday 18th April.
Reports from inside the centre suggest that the Kenyan man who died on
Thursday the 15th April was denied medical attention and that he died
after an ambulance called by fellow detainees had been turned away
from the centre by detention centre staff.
CMS has been told by detainees that disruption inside the centre took
place as shocked friends of the man who died tried to prevent his body
being removed from the detention centre, fearing a cover-up and
demanding that the circumstances surrounding his death, particularly
the denial of medical treatment, required independent public
investigation. The extent of the protest is unclear, however reports
from inside suggest that detainees did not attempt to escape and that
guards were not hurt during this incident (this is contrary to Home
Office statements). It is said that riot police were called into the
centre and that 60 detainees were, in many cases arbitrarily, arrested
and/or removed; many were not involved in the protest. Those closest
to the dead man were all removed from the centre and cannot now be
contacted. CMS have been told that some of those arrested have been
taken to prison in Birmingham.
The sister of one of the men reportedly transferred to prison in
Birmingham has told CMS that she has not been able to speak with her
brother for several days, but has today been told by her brother’s
lawyer (who has been in touch with Immigration officials) that her
brother is in prison because ‘there is nowhere else for them to go’
and that this is ‘just to calm the situation’ and that ‘they shouldn’t
really be there’, the lawyer is demanding the immediate release of
There are reports that during these arrests, some detainees may have
been injured by the police, and that some of those arrested and
removed had clearly not been involved in the disruption, at least one
of those arrested is also known to be extremely vulnerable.
Since then many of those left inside the centre are saying that they
have been issued with removal directions (that is they have been told
that tickets have been bought for their deportation, and they have
been given removal dates, but not told airlines or flight times)
despite on-going legal cases. All the guards have been changed and
replaced with larger male guards. One of the blocks (Block 20 -
arrivals block) has been shut down and is now empty (contradicting
claims that ‘there is nowhere else’ for detainees to go).
Detainees have expressed fears in speaking out on this as they risk
punishment or jeopardising their cases.
CMS are following on from this by making serious complaints into:
1. The man’s death on Thursday 15th April.
2. The wrongful arrests and injuries to those involved in protest and
those not involved in protest.
3. Men issued tickets to leave without time to complete full legal
representation and concern for deportation without adequate legal
representation of those now detained in prison.
1. On Thursday 15 April 2010 a detainee at Oakington succumbed to an
unknown medical condition, leading to widespread protest at the centre
by other detainees. As a result the police were called in to end the
protests and many detainees have since been taken to prisons, without
charges or a trial. The death is not being officially treated as
2. On Sunday 19th April 25 Cambridge residents protested outside of
the centre. http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Video-Protesters-call-for-immigration-centre-to-close.htm
Print quality photographs of the protest outside the Oakington centre
are available for publication on request (contact +44 (0) 7879 972 629).
3. Oakington is managed by a private security company G4S on behalf of
the UK Border Agency.
4. The latest report, in 2008, by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
about the Oakington centre was extremely critical of the running of
the centre, including that "Neither staff nor managers appeared to
take an interest in the individual circumstances and concerns of
detainees. For example, they appeared unaware of the fact that they
had been holding a Chinese man for nearly two years." The full report
is available at:
5. Cambridge Migrant Solidarity (CMS) is group of Cambridgeshire
residents concerned about the welfare of people detained in relation
to their immigration status, and opposing the policy of detention of
6. Previous Cambridge Migrant Solidarity actions include a protest
outside the Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, on Mothers
Day, 14 March 2010, in solidarity with women and men on hunger strike,
detained inside the centre.
7. The sister of the detained man quoted above is happy to speak to
the press, other detainees are also be willing to give statements.
Cambridge Migrant Solidarity