The Home Office has said that all 26 people who escaped from Campsfield immigration detention centre over the weekend were convicted criminals, not innocent asylum seekers.
Police have recaptured 12 of the men but 14 detainees are still at large after escaping from the troubled centre in Oxfordshire on Saturday night.
A Home Office spokesperson said all of the escapees were foreign national prisoners who had completed their sentences and were being held prior to deportation.
It is believed the most serious offence committed by any of the escapees was robbery.
Prior to the escape, detainees had held a one-day hunger strike and twice refused to return to their rooms at night.
The incident is the latest in a string of disturbances to occur at the centre following tensions over conditions. Problems have worsened since Campsfield started housing foreign prisoners awaiting deportation, alongside people still appealing for asylum.
In March this year, seven staff and two inmates were taken to hospital during rioting which broke out over the attempted deportation of a detainee.
Several detainees threatened staff and started fires in an attempt to obstruct the removal.
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