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Riot in Harmondsworth

noborders | 29.11.2006 00:54 | Anti-racism | Migration | London

A riot started around 9 pm in B wing and seems to have spread to all wings. Some detainees have been beaten up. There are reports of fires being lit everywhere. Detainees have been locked up in their rooms in some parts of the centre. In others they are stll rioting.
I have news now (00.50) they are now taking the detanees out of the building.

It is difficult to communicate with the detainees inside and get correct information, as detainees have been prevented to go to the phone. We managed to speak with some detainees, than the officers told them to get off the phone.

We'll post any update we can get.

Harmondsworth is run by Kaylix, former UK Detention Services.



Update 2.30 am

29.11.2006 02:38

Just spoke to a detainee in C wing: he says B ans C wings are the worst. Destruction is continuing in C wing, the doors have been broken, detainees cannot go out, guards are nowhere to be seen, supposedly afraid to go there. There is a lot noise and shouting, the detainee says thy are now smashing the office door. The shop has been smashed too. In B wing there is water everywhere after they smashed the plumming. Police has been called but haven't gone in yet. He says some detainees are injuried. He says the distruction is caused by frustration of being detained in awful, prison-like conditions, often for long time, requests and complaints being ignored.
The alarm in C wing is no longer working, we can hear the alarm from B wing on and off. He cannot see any fire from where he is, says fire has been extinguished on the ground floor but is still burning upstairs. All lights have gone off in B wing.


Disturbances at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth

29.11.2006 02:54

It seems there was a fire at Colnbrook early yesterday afternoon. It seems detainees were evacuated and taken back into the building, and a detainee reported everything was OK.

It seems a more serious disturbance started at Harmondsworth at 9pm and detainees are being taken out of the building.

Emma Ginn from NCADC/ repost

Update 3 am

29.11.2006 03:05

In A wing the disturbance is continuing.
Many detainees are now outside in the exercise yard. The detainees on 3rd floor are locked in and cannot go out. They can smell a lot of smoke. They have no ventilation and it's getting very hot.


Update 3.55am

29.11.2006 03:54

The police and the fire brigade are on the scene and say everything is under control.
Several detainees are still locked up inside the building.


Why the riot started

29.11.2006 04:00

More reasons given by detainees on what caused the riot:

Some people have been tortured and they don't get medical care, they get abused by officers, they are kept in detention a long time.
Some want to go back to their countries but they are kapt in detention.
Some are scared to go back and get beaten at the airport.
Some have family here in the UK.
If people complain they are put in isolation, you cannot say anything.
'This country is abusing us' they say.


Worst ever report for detention centre released yesterday

29.11.2006 07:14

Maybe that thought it was time to act.

Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre - 'Not fit for Purpose'
Indymedia UK, UK - 18 hours ago
Anne Owers HM Inspector of Prisons (HMIP) has published today a report on Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), the UK's largest immigration removal ...
Harmondsworth immigration centre report 'poorest ever'
Immigration removal centre like a high security prison, says ... Guardian Unlimited
Inspector lambasts migrants' detention centre Independent
Illegal begs to be kicked out The Sun


A Home Office spokesman said:

29.11.2006 09:14

A Home Office spokesman said:

"A disturbance began late last night at Harmondsworth Immigration Detention Centre in Middlesex. A number of specialist officers from prisons across the South of England have been deployed. All four wings of the detention centre are involved in the incident.

"A number of small fires were lit in the early hours of the morning which automatically activated the sprinkler system.

"We are not aware of any injuries to staff or detainees at this time.

"Harmondsworth Detention Centre can hold 501 detainees and is currently holding 482.

"Police have assisted the Prison and Immigration Services by securing the perimeter and there is absolutely no risk to the public."

John O, NCACD / repost

no borders detainee support network (london)

29.11.2006 11:15

If / when you do get the information about where detainees are being moved, or any information you think is worth publicising, please email it so:

nobordersdetaineesupportnetwork _ at _

And please indicate if the detainee or ex-detainee in question is prepared to have their names publicised in indymedia, and or the corporate press.

You can also email us to this address if you want to make a donation for the work we are doing. We pay for ex-detainees travel and phone costs while they are doing extremely valuable detainee support, and of course our migrane funds are getting smaller and smaller by the day...

no borders detainee support
mail e-mail:

Update 12.20 pm

29.11.2006 12:27

For the first time today we managed to speak to some detainees, the lines appear to have being re- opened but most detinees are still not answering.

A detainee in D wing says nobody was hurt in his wing so far, but anti-riot police are there so they may start beating them now...
Toghether with others he was taken to the courtyard around midnight and spent the night there, with no food and it was cold, he was shivering and could not go back inside until 7 am , he did not get his medicaton.

A detainee in A wing says they are all locked up in their rooms and the police are beating up people in the corridor. They had no water, no food and they spent the night locked inside all night despite the smoke and heath.

A BBC journailst who is on the scene says there are 15 vans of the type used to move detainees, and lots of police.


No names please

29.11.2006 12:36

Sorry to disagree but I believe it is very dangerous for Harmondsworth detainees to have their names publicized at this moment of time. The detention establishment has a habit to single out and scapegoat those who stand up or talk to the press, they will be only too happy to accuse them to be responsible for stating the riot! I doubt we'll be able to defend them in that event. Please be very cautios and keep contributions anonymous for the moment - keep the detainee's name to yourself until it can go to good use.


Harmondsworth update - 12.30pm Wednesday

29.11.2006 13:04


Just before noon about 50 detainees were seen in a courtyard spelling out the word help with bed sheets.


bbc news helicopter 'moved on'

29.11.2006 14:23

at about 14.10 a BBC reporter on the ground said their helicopter had been ordered away from the scene by the police for 'security reasons' and the police had their own helicopter in it's place (welcome to the free world).


What's going on?

29.11.2006 23:27

A number of visitors, campaingers and concerned individuals went to Harmondsworth today to try find out what is happening to the detainees inside. We could not get any information whatsoever on how many detainees were moved, who got beaten or otherwise injuried, who was moved and where to. There were so many vans and police wagons one could hardly see the road, but it appears many left empty, thus leaving us to believe there may be still a large number of detinees locked inside the building, which must be very unsafe and unhealthy after the destruction that went on. Communication with the detainees via the phone became impssible from early afteroon, after the police went in: the lines seem to be working but nobody is answering. The police left early in the evening, and the detention staff are again in control? of the centre. The few detainees we could contact before the phones went blank had not eaten since the evening before, some had not had anything to drink either, nobody had seen a doctor, despite suffering from cold, smoke inhalation and shock.



Hide the following 4 comments

George Mwangi interviews

29.11.2006 02:59

About the conditions in Harmondsworth...

George Mwangi Sky News interview video-clip,,30100-joshi_p24922,00.html
George Mwangi BBC video-clip - click on 'Immigration centre slammed' in the BBC London section


Get to Harmondsworth

29.11.2006 04:42

It would be very appreciated if people can go to Harmondsworth to observe the situation, and to show solidariety to the detainees. Some of them have been injuried it appears, all of them are now open to further abuse and scapegoating. It wold be also very appreciated if visitors and activists keep track to where detainees get moved.


Solidarity from Mexico

29.11.2006 20:11

Thoughts from here to there, to everyone struggling for their freedom and rights.

Oscar Beard