THE Home Office has defended spending £80,000 on an astroturf pitch at a county immigration detention centre.

It faced criticism for the spending at Campsfield House, Langford Lane, Kidlington.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “Necessary budget cuts are being made, so local residents in the area will wonder if this is the best use of taxpayers’ money while schools are fundraising for improvements to their facilities.

“Residents at the centre must of course be treated properly, but taxpayers’ hard-earned cash has to be prioritised to ensure good value for money.”

Home Office spokesman Jamie McGinnes said: “It is important that our centres are well-run, safe and secure and our detainees are provided with the proper facilities during their detention.

“The changes to Campsfield House were made following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons in May 2011 which advised outdoor facilities should be improved.”

The centre opened in 1993 and is run by private firm MITIE. It takes up to 216 males whose cases have yet to be resolved.

In October a wing was damaged by fire, leading to Government approval for a sprinkler system.