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11 January 2021 – United Kingdom

Brook House Detention Centre Seen From Outside, (BBC,
Brook House Detention Centre Seen From Outside, (BBC, "Brook House Immigration Detainees 'Held for Years'," 10 March 2017,

Following the news of a COVID outbreak in Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (see 16 December update on this platform), on 8 January the Home Office announced the centre’s temporary closure (for ten days) due to a number of positive cases amongst staff. A Home Office spokesman confirmed that several detainees had been transferred to an alternative detention centre (Colnbrook, near Heathrow airport)–a move that detainee rights groups immediately condemned. A representative for Bail for Immigration Detention said that “the decision to transfer people to Colnbrook is incredibly dangerous and places the lives of everybody held there in grave danger.”

The facility’s closure comes amidst soaring COVID-19 cases in the UK. As authorities attempt to tackle the new, more transmissible mutation of the virus, a country-wide lockdown is in effect. All persons have been ordered to stay at home and non-essential travel is banned. Despite these measures, however, the Home Office is reported to be continuing to organise deportations. On 6 January, the Independent reported that two deportation flights are due to depart this week: one to Romania on 13 January; and one to Poland on 14 January. When challenged about the safety of these flights, the Home Office said that it would “continue to progress operations with appropriate measures in place.” Lawyers, politicians, rights advocates, and activists have lambasted the decision to continue deportations amidst the new wave of infections. “The Home Office’s ramping up of deportation flights during a pandemic is irresponsible & inhumane,” wrote one Labour MP on Twitter. “Rather than putting populism before public health, it should suspend these flights and urgently review its detention & deportation policies.”