By Dale Street
Oakington "Reception Centre" deals with new asylum-seekers. During their week's detention at Oakington their claim for asylum is refused - the rejection rate at Oakington is 99.98%. Around 80% are then released, while the other 20% are further detained elsewhere.
The government's Nationality Immigration and Asylum Bill is soon to become law. It will revive the old Tory "white list" - countries in which there is supposedly no risk of persecution. New Labour's "white list" consists of the ten states in the process of joining the EU.
According to refugee rights groups, only nationals of the "white list" countries will be detained at Oakington in future. Their asylum claims will be rejected within a week, as at present, but then they will be taken to an airport for removal from the UK. They will be able to appeal against the refusal of their asylum claim - but only from abroad.
Oakington in other words will become a Removals Centre.
Such a transformation may serve to let the Government off the hook if it loses a Judicial Review currently being conducted over detention at Oakington. The Judicial Review is looking at whether the detention of asylum-seekers for the purpose of examining their claim for asylum is illegal. As we go to press The House of Lords is due to announce their decision. If the Government loses they could argue that detention at Oakington is part of the removals process (legal under the European Convention).