Firefighters want Yarls Wood closed

21 Feb 02
Firefighters have demanded that the remaining asylum seekers at the ravaged Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre be released as the site is unsafe.

22 February 2002

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) claims that asylum seekers and firefighters are being put at risk by lax evacuation procedures and the poor training given to Group 4 guards employed at the £100m centre.

Around 250 male asylum seekers remain at the Bedfordshire site. Riots and fire caused an estimated £38m worth of damage to the site on February 14. Twenty-five asylum seekers are still unaccounted for.

Andy Gilchrist, the general secretary of the FBU, said: 'The detainees that are remaining in Yarl's Wood should be set free immediately on temporary release for their own safety.'

The union is calling for an independent public inquiry into fire procedures at Yarl's Wood. The FBU said it raised concerns over the lack of a sprinkler system in the timber-framed building in October 2000.

Philip Hendry, leader of Bedfordshire County Council, said central government should pay for the Yarl's Wood disturbance. 'I want to ensure that people in Bedfordshire are not faced with a bill for policing or any other cost associated with this disaster,' he said.


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