Two new immigration centres as part of Rishi Sunak’s “stop the boats” pledge will not be ready until at least early next year. The sites in Hampshire and Oxfordshire would boost the UK’s capacity to detain migrants by 1,000.
But the two centres will reportedly not open until at least early next year.
A government source told The Times: “They won’t be ready until early 2024 at the earliest.
“It means we’ll still only have a cap of 2,500 and most of those spaces are needed for current immigration offenders, let alone Channel migrants.”
Any delay risks the Government’s plans to detain migrants who cross the Channel in small boats.
The current detention capacity is around 2,500, although facilities are less than half full.
But the Illegal Migration Bill will increase the need for places as it gives ministers powers to detain people who arrive in the UK illegally for at least 28 days before they are removed to either their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.
The Government hopes the Bill, which has cleared the Commons and is currently going through the Lords, will be passed by the end of July.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman last month acknowledged Britain’s current detention capacity is insufficient.
But she dismissed claims tens of thousands of places would be needed as she pointed to the deterrent effect of the Bill.
Ms Braverman told the BBC: “No one is saying we need 45,000 or 100,000 new detention places.
“That’s because we want to design a scheme whereby if you arrive here illegally you will be detained and thereafter swiftly relocated to a safe country like Rwanda or your home country.”
Plans to reopen the Haslar immigration removal centre at Gosport and Campsfield House in Kidlington are separate to proposals to move migrants out of expensive hotels to basic accommodation such as disused military sites and vessels.
More than 45,000 people made the dangerous journey across the Channel in rubber dinghies last year and more than 6,000 have arrived so far this year.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Immigration removal centre capacity will not cause delays to the passage of the Illegal Migration Bill.
“The Bill will enable us to remove people as quickly as possible, meaning they will be in detention for a shorter amount of time.
“We are also working to build these new sites as a priority, while looking at finding alternative solutions to further increase detention capacity.”