Prison Reveals Immigration Centre Plans
8:34am 30th January 2014
(Updated 11:45am 30th January 2014)
A former Portland Prison has been transformed to hold nearly 600 men who're in the country illegally.
Plans for how The Verne will operate as an Immigration Removal Centre have been shown to the public.
The centre will only hold men over the age of 18, and at full capacity will be able to take in 580 people.
Everyone held there will be restricted to the centre whilst it's decided whether they'll remain in the country or be deported.
Staff will be teaching employment skills.
Neil Coade looked after education in the former prison and is now Curriculum Manager for the new Centre. He told us that it was important these people were helped, "Detainees are not people who have been incarcerated because they have committed a crime under the laws of this Country, for that reason we treat them as people who are just detained in a controlled environment and we offer them as wide a range of facilities as we can."
He continued to add he was looking forward to the difference in teaching at the Immigration Removal Centre compared to the former prison, "It's very exciting, because we'll be introducing a whole new range of skills for them to learn, and these people aren't criminals so there's more freedom in what we do."
Centre Manager, James Lucas, also spoke to Wessex FM telling us he was looking forward to the Centre receiving it's first detainees and that it should have a more "relaxed" feel than the former prison.
He added that one positive for the area is that more jobs have, and will, be created, "We managed to offer a number of roles to staff who had worked at Dorchester prison, but with the closure they were looking for new places to work. We're also going out to recruit from members of the public- officer roles and operational support roles."
The Centre opens on the 17th of February.