On 23rd July, LUC members made a field trip to Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre. We arrived at 10.50; intending to meet the No Borders group from Nottingham, we headed to the main gate. We waited a short while, made friends with some pigs in a nearby field, greeted a photographer & headed back to the station to see if anyone had arrived. We were told the last train from Nottingham had been & gone, & nobody got off. We headed back to the gate & decided it wasn’t worth waiting around. We headed along the road to the south. A broken sign on the floor read “Todays Special” (sic), a taunt to anyone forced to wake up in IRCMH, or its previous use as a women’s prison. We could now see the compound clearly. The perimeter was a 16′ high ugly pale green fence, solid metal on the lower half. There were a couple of vantage points which made it possible to see inside – it appeared to have a largely self-sufficient agricultural area (making us wonder why inner-cities don’t), otherwise, the compound was flat mown grass with a few trees. I did not see anyone outdoors in the compound, which I would have expected on a warm day.
Next we explored a small terrace of houses which lies along the southern edge, past a sign that read “Prison Shop Parking Area,” a frank admission of the site’s previous role. A few houses had been converted into offices, but the ones further on were derelict. The last was a complete ruin, with numerous birds living (and dead) in the rotten rafters, including one very irritable pigeon. Someone had put up several bird boxes on the walls, but it hardly mattered as one even had a nest built on top.
We continued around the perimeter, for the sake of exploring the surroundings if nothing else, We looked across a few ponds & pastures before we heard a faint squealing sound which we took to be an animal, but as we got closer we could tell it was a metallic noise, & closer still we made out the sounds of saucepans being banged in time. The Nottingham group had in fact arrived and circuited the compound to the north.
We were now at the north-east edge, close to the main accommodation buildings. We saw the photographer we’d seen at the gate before we saw the protesters themselves, & I suspect they were pretty surprised to see us. A certain LUC member apologises for his – er – curt greeting, “Where the fuck have you lot been?” is not the way to make a good first impression. Anyway, we were glad to join the protest at last & did our bit with hands, lungs & whistles. We went back the way we came, staying close to the fence this time, and as we approached a half-built new section of the compound, a pair of officious-looking screws watched from a discreet distance. Back toward the main gate, we saw some of our familiar uniformed friends from Lincoln protests, including Britain’s only cop with an actual Coffee-&-Donuts NYPD moustache. We quietened down and stood in solidarity with the inmates & their visiting families for a little while, seeing some of the real victims of the UK Border Agency abuse, the people whose loved ones are held inside to be shipped off to uncertain fates.
IRCMH’s concealed position makes it almost impossible to see from a passing train or moving car. It would be very difficult to be aware of Morton Hall if you didn’t know where to look. I was not aware of IRCMH before reading the indymedia article, & it is unlikely I would ever have known it was there. I doubt many Lincoln residents are aware of the place either, it may do us good to publicise it.
It is disturbing finding out about a prison for the innocent on your doorstep. It is a reminder that we live in a state which considers human beings to be essentially unnecessary, judging them on economic utility and sentencing them for the crime of having been born in the wrong part of the world.
No borders, no nations.
No-one is illegal.