Facilities "wholly unsuitable"
20th April 2011: The airport independent monitoring board (IMB) has claimed children are being held overnight in "degrading" conditions at Heathrow Airport.
The watchdog has warned the facilities available at the airport were "wholly unsuitable".
In its report, the watchdog said the UK Border Agency has again failed in its duty to treat everyone in its care in Heathrow holding rooms with decency.
Even as the UKBA said the welfare of children within immigration system was an absolute priority, the report said the airport’s detention rooms had poor ventilation, no natural light, and inadequate washing facilities.
The assertion is significant as in 2010, more than 15,000 people, including children, were detained by immigration staff at the airport, as per the watchdog.
It said the lack of progress since the degrading conditions were highlighted in 2010 was "unacceptable on grounds of humanity.
In the previous report, attention was drawn to the wholly unsuitable conditions in which men, women and children were held. There has been no change; they are still held in these conditions and still for too long. Lack of change is unacceptable on grounds of humanity, it said.
The watchdog also called for Home Secretary Theresa May to initiate measures in this regard.
UKBA’s strategic director for criminality and detention David Wood said the government committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes.
Checks are necessary to secure the UK border at points of entry, as well as to meet our obligation to safeguard the welfare of children, especially if trafficking or other forms of abuse are suspected.