Larne House Short Term Holding Facility
- Larne House Short Term Holding Facility (STHF) is part of the UK’s carceral estate and is used as an immigration removal centre.
- Larne House is the only immigration detention centre in Northern Ireland.
- Larne House is located at 2 Hope Street, Larne, Co. Antrim BT40 1UR. Larne House is situated to the rear of Larne’s PSNI Station (PSNI – Police Service of Northern Ireland). It is not signposted or marked as being separate from the station.
- People can be held there for five days before being deported, transferred to indefinite detention in GB or released.
- Planning permission was sought in 2010 to adapt part of the existing police station and extend it, for the “Extension and conversion of custody facilities to provide short term reception accommodation for UK Border Agency, together with associated fencing and lighting” (Planning reference: F/2010/0259/F)
- The development was welcomed by a small number of local politicians celebrating the construction jobs it created and most vocally opposed by the BNP, which had a local branch in Larne.
- Larne House STHF opened on 5 July 2011 and accepted its first detainees on 11 July 2011.
- At its opening, David Wood (a strategic director at the UK Border Agency) said: “This new facility in Northern Ireland is a welcome addition to the UK Border Agency’s estate and will help us remove more individuals who have no right to be here” (Belfast Telegraph, 5 July 2011).
- Anna Morvern wrote for the Institute of Race Relations that: “Once opened and operational, Larne House may no longer be seen as a shocking place to exist here, but as a familiar and accepted feature of the landscape in the north.”
- Larne House has been mentioned in the Houses of Parliament only once, by DUP MP Gavin Robinson opposing the level of militarisation surrounding the facility (Hansard Vol 603, Col 248, 1/12/15).
- Larne House is subject to regular inspections by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. These reports have raised a consistent number of issues which remain unaddressed by the private company (Mitie) which holds the contract to run Larne House. These include a lack of privacy at check-in; insufficient separate facilities for women detainees; lack of access to Skype and internet facilities; lack of signposts to the facility for visitors.
- 97 people have been ‘processed’ & detained in Larne House in 2020, a significant pandemic downturn on previous years. The peak was 739 detainees in 2015.
- 4860 people have been ‘processed’ & detained in Larne House since it opened in 2011 until end of Q4 in 2020.
(Photo credit: Emmet Thornton)