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Dover Immigration and Removal centre set to close, leaving workers uncertain about their future

Dover's Immigration and Removal Centre at the Western Heights is set to close, it has been confirmed.

MP Charlie Elphicke has received a letter from the Home Office today which says it is planning to return the premises to the Ministry of Justice.

He also said that "a handful of workers" out of the 200 employed have contacted him over worries about their future careers, so far.

Dover Immigration Removal Centre. Picture: Simon Burchett
Dover Immigration Removal Centre. Picture: Simon Burchett

It is understood that employees were told the news today after an on-site meeting.

Mr Elphicke said: "I am deeply concerned about the impact it will have on local jobs and I am going to meet with the officers and will be looking to make a case to the Home Office to make sure they can be offered suitable redeployment."

Mr Elphicke said he aims to do this "very quickly".

"These officers have worked really hard and it is right that they are looked after," he said.

"I totally understand how concerned the workforce and their families will be."

Dover Immigration Removal Centre
Dover Immigration Removal Centre

Labour Cllr Peter Wallace who covers Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory wards in Dover, has written to the shadow home secretary Andy Burnham asking for his support to save jobs.

He said: "The staff will be offered the option of working in another Home Office role in Kent, probably in Swaleside Prison, though this is not acceptable.

"Swaleside is more than 50 miles from Dover, not large enough to re-employ the 100 directly employed staff at Dover, inaccessible to employees who do not drive and the extra 180 minutes journey will be detrimental to staff and prisoners.

"This also does not address what will happen to the service DIRC currently provides.

"It is vital the immigration centre remains open and operating with all of the current staff employed in their roles in Dover."

Cllr Wallace said he will be in Costa Coffee in Biggin Street, Dover, from 6pm to 7pm tonight offering a chance for people to talk about the news.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Detaining and removing people with no right to be in the UK, with dignity and respect, is an essential part of maintaining effective immigration controls.

 "That work requires an estate of modern, secure centres located with easy access to the airports from which removals take place.

 "We keep our detention estate under constant review and have decided the site at Dover should no longer be used as an immigration removal centre.

“All detainees will be transferred to other immigration removal centres.”

 It is not yet known when the official closing date will be. 

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