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Dover / Dover IRC

Dover / Dover IRC

Dover / Dover IRC

Until its closure in November 2015, Dover Immigration Removal Centre overlooked one of the busiest ferry ports in the world, on England’s south coast. The IRC was one of two run by the national Prison Service (HMPS), with a capacity for 401 men over the age of 18. Dover IRC detained a large proportion of ex-prisoners and around a third of detainees spent over four months there.

MID worked at Dover from 2005 to 2012. Programmes with detainees included Balkan songs, workshops for Black History Month, Diwali, Chinese New Year and Nowruz, ‘A Song In A Day’, and Kurdish and West African music and dance workshops which led to performances at the IRC’s Culture Day.

Community exchanges have included projects with children at the local Priory Fields School, elders in an Age Concern Day Centre, young people from Dover and Slovakia at the Dover HQ youth centre, and adults with learning disabilities at the Walmer day centre.

In 2012 MID paused its work at Dover because of financial constraints at the IRC. But in June 2015 Music In Detention returned to run a one-off community exchange project between Dover detainees and participants from local homeless charity, Porchlight. The project led to a performance in Dover town centre as part of the Refugee Tales launch. This was the final project MID ran before the IRC closed down.

 “‘What a mighty God we serve’ – children listened to the recording of Bolu singing it then learnt it from the recording, including the counter-melody. It was lovely that Bolu, a choirmaster in a church in South London, was able to offer his musical teaching skills from inside the detention walls.”

Music for Change Artist


Despite Dover’s location in the prosperous south-east region, the district, in common with other parts of East Kent, contains pockets of some of the most deprived areas in the country. Between 2002 and 2008 the level of migrant workers increased, and social and economic deprivation is a significant issue. It is the 153rd most deprived district in the country, but in regional terms one of the most deprived areas.