London: Violent clashes at the immigration center near Heathrow Airport

riot police

Riot police are on the scene at a detention center near Heathrow Airport (Image: UKNIP)

Clashes have broken out between armed inmates at an immigration detention center in London.

Detainees with ‘various weapons’ involved in ‘disorder’ at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.

Riot police are at the scene and the disorder continues, although it has reportedly been contained to one wing of the compound.

It began during a power outage that began in the early hours of the morning, the Home Office said.

The facility, near Heathrow Airport, is the largest of its kind in Europe and can accommodate up to 676 adult males.

According to a March 2021 report, the site is “occasionally used as a short-term holding facility to accommodate people arriving in small boats across the English Channel”.

It noted that the center was in urgent need of renovation and expressed concern that some medicines had been held there for more than a year.

Commenting on this morning’s mess, a Home Office spokesman said: “There is a power outage at Harmondsworth immigration center and work is underway to resolve this issue.

Met Police riot police, supported by other emergency service partners, were rushed to Harmondsworth Detention Center near Heathrow just after 3am on Saturday 5 November 2022 following a major disturbance involving more than 100 inmates. Firefighters from various London fire stations were pushed into the center along with TSG and armed officers after many reportedly armed themselves with knives and lumps of wood. Power and water were cut off in the impact areas and employees were removed from the area after being threatened with violence.?? This is followed by a series of fires that were set throughout Friday night and which staff at the center were dealing with. It is understood that the large group managed to break out of the detention center and gain access to the courtyard.?? The National Police Close Air Support Helicopter from?? Essex has also been urged to provide live footage to police chiefs who are said to be working with the center's staff to restore order. The Territorial Support Group is a unit consisting of several hundred highly trained officers ready for action. 24 hours a day?? to a variety of high-risk incidents. They are the most highly trained public order officers and are deployed on the front lines of spontaneous riots and major public events. They are also trained to enter and search buildings to contain prison disorder and are on standby for major or critical incidents and chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents. Some of them also have Authorized Firearms Officers.??? a number of vans remain in the center and on the outskirts. The Home Office and Met Police have been asked for comment on the ongoing incident.

The outbreak of violence began during a power outage at the detention center in the early hours of the morning (Image: UKNIP)

Harmondsworth

Harmondsworth prisoner accommodation required a ‘refurbishment’ in March 2021, according to the watchdog (Image: HM Inspector of Prisons)

“We are aware of a disruption at the center and the relevant authorities have been notified and are on site.

“The well-being and safety of staff and those detained at Harmondsworth is our highest priority.”

The Metropolitan Police Service and HM Prison Service are on site.

A Home Office spokesman also told the PA news agency: “A group of detainees left their rooms and went out into the courtyard area, armed with various weapons.

“Territorial Support Police have been dispatched to the scene and the power is still off.”

They added that none of the detainees left the premises and that there were no reports of injuries.

A group of people believed to be migrants walk up the beach in Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the English Channel. Picture date: Wednesday September 21, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

There is mounting pressure on the government to spell out how it will deal with the growing number of people entering the country illegally, particularly via the English Channel (Image: PA).

This comes amid growing scrutiny of conditions at UK immigration facilities and the government’s handling of the rising number of people entering the country illegally.

More than 40,000 people have made the treacherous journey across the English Channel in small boats this year, more than four times the total in 2020.

The prison’s watchdog called for urgent action at the dangerously overcrowded Manston processing plant in Kent this week after it was revealed children were being forced to sleep on the floor.

In March, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons said of Harmondsworth that many prisoners had “complex needs” and that the “protracted detention of those with significant vulnerabilities, who in some cases had been declared unfit, was also a serious problem”.

EDITORS' NOTE: The PA Picture Desk has been unable to obtain the necessary approval to photograph children under the age of 16 in matters affecting their welfare. This image has been provided unpixelated for customers to pixelate in their own style. A view of people deemed to be migrants at the Manston short-stay immigration station at the former Defense Fire Training and Development Center in Thanet, Kent. Picture date: Wednesday November 2, 2022. PA Photo. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has denied ignoring legal advice to source more accommodation amid warnings that the temporary holding center at Manston in Kent was dangerously overcrowded. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

This week, immigration officials in Manston were investigated after children were found sleeping on the floor (Image: PA).

A report continued: “It was worrying that some detainees were being held for very long periods, often, we are told, due to systemic problems in providing suitable accommodation for release.

“Eight people had been detained for more than a year and 26 for more than six months.

“Yet the majority (58%) were simply released after a potentially damaging period of imprisonment.”

At the time of the March 2021 report, Harmondsworth had fewer than 100 residents due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not been inspected again since.

The staff was judged to have adapted well to the new conditions and it was noted that there was “little violence” although there was “a high level of vulnerability among the population and a significant level of self-harm”.

Metro.co.uk has asked the Home Office how many people are currently being held at the site.

Harmondsworth is run by the private company Mitie Care and Custody on behalf of the Home Office.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/05/london-violent-clashes-at-immigration-centre-near-heathrow-airport-17703760/ London: Violent clashes at the immigration center near Heathrow Airport

Justin Scacco

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