THE UK Government is facing calls to close a “prison run for profit” on Scottish soil after a coronavirus outbreak in the facility.

Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre, near the town of Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, has had an outbreak of Covid-19.

However, the Home Office has refused to say how many people are currently held there, or if any detainees have died of the virus.

Dungavel is a detention centre for people who have had their UK asylum applications rejected and who face deportation.

The centre has a capacity of 125, after being reduced from 249 towards the end of last year.

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Campaigners have demanded that everyone currently held in the centre is released, tested and put into private accommodation.

Prominent Scots lawyer Aamer Anwar called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to close the centre.

He said: “Many Dungavel detainees already suffer from mental health or medical conditions.

“This privatised institution run on behalf of the Home Office has a history of failing to provide sufficient medical support.

“The Home Office in the past has been accused of not prioritising the health, welfare and dignity of detainees at Dungavel.”

Last year it was revealed that, despite a decade-old UK Government pledge, children and pregnant women were still being held in the centre, which strictly allows no visitors.

Aamer added: “One can only imagine the fear of the spread of Covid among both detainees and staff, in what is essentially a prison run for profit.

“It is a scar on the map of Scotland that should have been pulled down a long time ago.”

Human rights campaigner Robina Qureshi, of Positive Action in Housing, said that avoiding overcrowding was the "first rule" during a pandemic, and that people should never have been in Dungavel in the first place.

Qureshi said: “First Mclays Guest House in Glasgow, and now Dungavel Detention Centre has suffered a Covid outbreak.

"It’s the first rule of a global pandemic. Don’t crowd people together or they are at risk of all catching this virus, and it creates a dangerous cluster that could impact the local community.

"The Scottish Government must challenge the crowding of refugees and asylum seekers into hotels and detention centres.

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"The people in Mclays and Dungavel must all be tested and those who test negative should be relocated immediately into private accommodation where they can sanitise their own environment. Otherwise there is every chance that everyone including the staff in these institutions will get the virus.

"People should never have been put into hotels or left in Dungavel and this is the inevitable result."

Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Immigration detention is unsuitable at the best of times. During this public health crisis, there is really no excuse for people to be detained at all.”

The Home Office said: “Immigration Enforcement is responding to the unique circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak and taking advice from Public Health Scotland.

“We have robust measures in place to deal with any cases of coronavirus among staff or residents.

“This has been supported by the High Court, which earlier this year ruled that our approach to detention and coronavirus was sensible and proportionate, with the appropriate precautionary measures in place.”