Awaiting Deportation? Play Bingo!

The UK based tabloid the Sun recently ran a sensationalized bingo news story stating that UK taxpayers were paying for ‘killers and rapists’ to play bingo at the Colnbrook immigration facility, in Berkshire. The story implied that British taxpayers were subsidizing nightly bingo games where inmates won vouchers redeemable at the prison shop.

The story stated that an astounding £50,000 ($71,445 USD) per year was allocated for the nightly bingo games and also said that the amount allocated in 2009 was reduced to £15,000 ($21,435) per year. As it turns out most of the criminals awaiting deportation had already served their sentences and most of the inmates are being deported for various violations of Britain’s immigration laws.

The existence of these bingo games have sparked outrage in some quarters as many question the allocating of government funds for inmates in a deportation facility to play bingo when the British economy is in shambles. Many feel the money would be better spent on helping the thousands of citizens who have lost their jobs.

According to the Sun’s source, “Most goes to bingo winners. It’s a huge hit with all the foreigners — with up to five games in an evening. More than £300 a week has been paid out in the form of “residential vouchers” which can be spent in the centre’s shop. The games are so popular among the 380 detainees BRAWLS have erupted over prizes. They also compete at dominos and pool.”

Immigration Minister, Mr. Woolas stated that the centre was obligated to provide a “humane environment for detainees before they are removed from Britain” which did little to quell the outrage felt by many. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling stated, “If applications and removals were handled promptly and efficiently there would be no need to house residents for so long and entertain them at cost to the taxpayer.”

The sentiment of the majority seems to be that it is highly inappropriate to provide bingo games with prizes to those who have broken British law. Can one imagine what the sentiment would be if they were given access to online bingo sites?

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