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.
“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.
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”.
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.
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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