Barnardo’s threatens to pull out on locking children up

This is second time in a month that Barnardo’s has threatened to pull out
1st August 2011: Barnardo’s has again threatened to pull out — this time on the issue of locking children up.
Only last month, Barnardo’s — UK’s one of the largest children’s charity — had put forth the rules it wanted the Government to follow to ensure the charity’s support.

It had also threatened to abandon its services, if any family was lodged for more than the prescribed time limit.

The charity has now made it clear that it will pull out of the deal to help operate a family-friendly detention centre for failed asylum-seekers due to open this month, in case the Government continues to violate its promises on locking children up.

Campaigners believe the new centre at Pease Pottage in West Sussex is another form of confinement.

What supports their belief is that the centre will be operated by security company G4S; and will be surrounded by a perimeter wall.

On the other hand, those supporting the centre refute the apprehensions by saying it has play schedules for children, counseling and religious ceremonies and reflects vast improvement on the previous such centres.

The charity’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "We see an important part of our role as shedding light on the whole immigration process to ensure it supports those children within it. We are absolutely clear that if policy and practice fall short of safeguarding the welfare, dignity and respect of families, then Barnardo’s will raise concerns, will speak out and ultimately, if we have to, we will withdraw our services."

Carrie had earlier asserted that if any family has been lodged more than once or for more than a week due to a UK Border Agency procedural error, she would speak out. If this happens more than twice, the charity will discontinue its services.

Barnardo’s had further added they would also pull out if more than 10 per cent of the families removed from the UK were processed through the centres and if the Tinsley House detention centre was used, if the pre-departure accommodation (PDA) unit was full.

 The charity organisation has also called for “immediate review of personnel" if the behaviour of any staff in the PDA, which will include personnel from both the UKBA and private-security firms, raises concerns. The organisation said if the concerns are not addressed, then also Barnardo’s will remove the services.

Carrie also called for a hardship fund to be set up to help failed asylum seekers with immediate costs incurred on return to their countries.

 Carrie said she agreed there’s a risk the PDA could become a revolving door for families and that’s why Barnardo’s will speak out, if any family has stayed more than once, or for more than the maximum of a week due to a UKBA procedural error.

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