Help stop the opening of a new immigration detention centre for women

by by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law

Help stop the opening of a new immigration detention centre for women

by by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law
by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law
Case Owner
I am someone who lives in Consett and cares passionately about human rights.
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by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law
Case Owner
I am someone who lives in Consett and cares passionately about human rights.
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Latest: Jan. 1, 2022

Unhappy New Year


On New Year's Eve we got the bad news that the first women detainees had been transferred from Yarl's Wood to Hassockfield near Consett - or Derwentside IRC as the government insist on callin…

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The Home Office is currently converting Medomsley Detention Centre in Durham into an immigration detention centre for women. 

Under cover of Covid, the Home Office has sought no planning permission for the redevelopment of the whole site to detain immigrant women - and Durham County Council have failed to call this out. That has meant that the local community have had this foisted on them without consultation.

I am taking Durham County Council and the Home Office to court, but I need your help. Please donate what you can and share this page on social media and via email and WhatsApp.

Who am I?

I am someone who lives in Consett and cares passionately about human rights. I am a member of more than one group opposing this proposal and I know I have their moral support, particularly that of No To Hassockfield and Women for Refugee Women.

I also care passionately about the rule of the law, and the need for lawmakers to be prevented from being law-breakers, especially when that law-breaking will also ruin the lives of many vulnerable women.

What’s wrong with opening a new women’s detention centre at this site?

The appalling history of Medomsley Detention Centre is well documented, with more than 1,800 reported victims of physical and sexual abuse. Less well known is its continuing ugly history when rebuilt and re-named Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in which a 14 year old boy tragically committed suicide.

In 2020 the site finally had a hope of a new and better future when the government marketed it for residential development through Homes England, but that was crushed early in 2021 when news leaked out that then Home Office intended to convert it into an immigration detention centre for women.

It’s hard to imagine a crueller place in which to detain women, many of whom are victims of gender based violence and are traumatised as a result, torn away from their families and sent hundreds of miles away from their social and legal support networks.

Not only does the grim history of abuse at this site make it a wholly inappropriate place to detain traumatised women, but the site is also very remote meaning access to legal advice, interpreters and other essential services to ensure the women have access to justice will be all but impossible.  

The site is also more than 300 miles from the airports from which immigration detainees are removed from the UK, meaning  long journeys will be required which could only amplify the feelings of terror and isolation. Further, at 800 feet up on the edge of the Pennines, it is notorious regionally for snow and cold weather.

What am I trying to achieve?

I seek a court ruling that Durham County Council should have required the Home Office to seek planning permission for this site, rather than turning a blind eye to it.

I seek the quashing of planning permission granted by the council for an additional ancilliary building as though it could be treated separately from the whole development.

I seek that work on the development of the site is ordered to stop until the required planning application has been made and decided by local councillors.

Ultimately, I seek the prevention of any woman being detained at this site.

How much I am raising and why? 

To take this legal action, the women who will otherwise be locked up at Hassockfield and I need your help. Your donations will be used to pay court fees and legal costs. Although I will ask the court for a "costs cap" on my costs for the case, I need to raise money to cover-off this potential liability. I also need to fundraise a contribution to my legal team's costs even though they are working on a heavily discounted basis. 

Thank you for your support!


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Update 3

by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law

Jan. 1, 2022

Unhappy New Year


On New Year's Eve we got the bad news that the first women detainees had been transferred from Yarl's Wood to Hassockfield near Consett - or Derwentside IRC as the government insist on calling it in an attempt to cover up its ugly past.

Please don't think that this makes any difference to this case or the strenuous efforts being made by many people to fight this cause in different ways. Unfortunately my legal team and I  have not heard from the court yet whether we have permission to proceed with the judicial review we seek and as soon as we know where we stand with this we will let you know.

In the meantime, local people will continue to demonstrate their objection to this detention centre, and faith groups will continue their vigils at the site so that the women who are detained do not think they are forgotten however hard the authorities try to hide them away.

Update 2

by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law

Oct. 18, 2021

Be inspired by Agnes Tanoh

The inspirational Agnes Tanoh from Women for Refugee Women spoke to protesters at Hassockfield this weekend, inspiring us all to keep up the struggle to prevent Hassockfield from opening as an immigration detention centre for women.

She urged us on, drawing on her own grim history of detention at Yarl’s Wood during her eight year struggle to be allowed the right to live in safety and freedom. Read her compelling words here:

Agnes Tanoh’s speech: Hassockfield protest, 16th October 2021

We are here, Gemma, Venus and I, from Women for Refugee Women, to join you in your coalition of local people.

You have been campaigning weekly and monthly for a while. You have been protesting against the opening of Hassockfield detention and removal centre in County Durham.

Women for Refugee Women is proud of you and says a big thank you to you. Actions speak louder than words and this is what you have been doing by protesting here before, and today.


You have worked so hard to bring people and organisations together.

You have worked so hard to inspire resilience from your members but also from us.

Together, we want to continue to fight until we succeed since we are fighting for a good cause.

We are fighting for the dignity of human beings.

We are fighting for women in distress.

We are fighting against detention which is an inhumane practice.

We don’t want to see this beautiful county be responsible for the harm and trauma of vulnerable women.

We are fighting for excluded, persecuted, abused women seeking sanctuary.

We have to act and speak out to stop Hassockfield from opening.


Women for Refugee Women is here for two main reasons. Firstly, we – and you – don’t want women to be locked up because they are seeking safety and protection.

Priti Patel stop locking up women.

Home Office don’t break your promises.

Home Office, you said no more no more detention centres. So why are you opening Hassockfield detention centre?


Dear friends, I experienced detention in Yarl’s Wood detention centre for more than three months.

Detention centres like Hassockfield are prisons. But they are worse in their conditions because you are locked up without trial, which is opposite to the basic principle of British Values.

Detention is a prison where you don’t know the length of your sentence.


We have to say something now, cry out the trauma now, cry out the distress and abuse and shout loud: Stop locking up traumatised women!


The second reason for our presence here today is that Hassockfield is also a removal centre. Do we want to be accomplices to deporting women at risk of persecution back to the country from which they fled?

Priti Patel wants to remove people in distress to their countries. Priti Patel wants to send them back to the fire they escaped from, from the wars they escaped. Is this how human beings should be treated?

Do you know that earlier this year, in Birmingham, a teenage Afghan, a 19-year-old boy, who feared the UK would deport him, killed himself?

Let us say no to removal.


I am going to end here. However, I want to ask to Priti Patel, does she know how many UK citizens leave this peaceful country to live in other countries?

Numerous UK citizens live in other countries only because they want to and love it – so why does Priti Patel want to stop citizens of other countries coming to the UK when they have to?

Women coming here are fleeing war, persecution – not safe places.

Instead of locking up those vulnerable women with the intention of deporting them back to face more violence, we should be treating them with compassion and dignity.

Detention and deportation tear families apart; they traumatise children.


Dear friends what we would choose?

Love or hate.

Dignity or abuse.

Kindness or nastiness.

Equality or inequality.

Welcome or rejection.

I am sure you choose love, compassion, inclusion, welcome.

So let us shout together: No to Hassockfield!

No to Hassockfield in County Durham.

No to Hassockfield.


Update 1

by a local resident in support of the rights of women and the rule of law

Oct. 11, 2021

Pushing on

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have already supported my appeal for funds (and those who will support it over the coming weeks). I hoped you'd want to know where my legal team and I are up to.

We wrote to Durham County Council, as you should before pursuing a judicial review, setting out the mistakes we believe they have made in dealing with planning issues at Hassockfield. Obviously, we hoped the council would accept our argument and consent to the quashing of the planning permission they had granted in August. We also asked them to agree to consider enforcement action against what would then be unlawful development.

The council declined.

That's why we are pursuing legal action, and we have today set that in motion by issuing a Judicial Review Claim Form in the Administrative Court.

As I write it all sounds a bit dry, though it actually feels really nerve-racking. That’s because behind the legal language and procedure lie big issues of principle, and the still bigger issue of whether vulnerable and frightened women are to be separated from friends and family, sent far from home, and locked up in this forbidding penal institution on the edge of the Pennines.

That’s why I want you to know that you have already lifted the spirits of all those working for the vulnerable women threatened by this development (and lifted mine too). Thank you so much, and please do pass the message on to those who you believe share your values. Together we can make a stand for Justice and Humanity.

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