Fears disused former detention centre laying empty could be sold for housing

Haslar immigration removal centre in Gosport

Haslar immigration removal centre in Gosport

Flick Drummond, parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, with Michael Fallon at Land Rover BAR.   Picture: Sarah Standing (170586-1077)

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A FORMER detention centre is in mothballs while a government department decides its future.

Haslar Immigration Removal Centre closed in March and was transferred from the Home Office to the Ministry of Justice.

But Councillor Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, said he fears the site could be sold for housing.

He said: ‘The worry will be if that they want to dispose of it, the first thing they would look at is housing.

‘From my point of view, ministries and government departments should be looking at job creation to help reduce the amount of out-commuting.’

Cllr Hook said he would not have an objection the building’s use as a prison as historically the site has been used to detain people.

He added: ‘It’s always been used as a detention centre, it would be no problem if it were used to detain.’

All detainees were moved out of the Dolphin Way centre after the announcement.

Just last summer its capacity was upgraded to house 197 detainees, up from 160, but it is now empty and disused.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage is a minister at the Ministry of Justice.

She said: ‘We need a prison service which delivers security for local residents, value for money for taxpayers and the best possible chance of rehabilitation for offenders.

‘I’d rather National Offender Management Service make a right decision than a fast decision.’

When the transfer was announced it was not clear if the site would open as a prison immediately or at all.

Peter Chegwyn, opposition leader for the Liberal Democrats, said he is concerned about the whole Haslar area.

He said: ‘I’m concerned about the whole future of the Haslar peninsula, the QinetiQ site, the gunboat yard and the old hospital site as well.

‘There’s a massive amount of land down there with the ex-detention centre.

‘We’ve a right to know what government and its agencies have planned.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Haslar has been de-commissioned as an Immigration Removal Centre and is currently empty pending a decision on when to reopen it as a prison.’

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