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22 Feb 2010 : Column 390W—continued

Yarl's Wood Detention Centre: Hunger Strikes

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reports he has received on (a) an ongoing hunger strike by women at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre and (b) the reasons given by those women for taking that action; and if he will make a statement. [317379]

Mr. Woolas: The director of detention services and his staff have kept me fully informed about the passive protest by women at Yarl's Wood and continue to do so.

The protest has included a number of women refusing to eat meals provided in the canteen, although a number of them continue to purchase food made available in the shop and vending machines.

The well-being of the women is being monitored closed by health care officials in the centre and none are showing any signs of concern.

While each resident will have their own personal reasons for joining the protest, they are in general objecting to their detention. The UK Border Agency aims to keep detention to a minimum in order to enforce the removal of those with no basis of stay in the UK or whose deportation is required to protect the public from the harm they pose. It is a fact that detainees themselves often prolong their own detention by making late spurious appeals and failing to comply with the documentation and removal process.

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