Government to press ahead with plans to end child detention: May
7th December 2010: Christmas may bring to the children the gift of liberation from the fear of being detained in immigration cases.
Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed the government will press ahead with plans to end child detention in immigration cases before Christmas.
May said an announcement would be made before the Commons Christmas recess begins on 21 December 2010.
May said: "The coalition government retains its commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes."
Even as Theresa May reiterated the government was committed to take action on the issue, Labour former minister Alun Michael blamed her for being "vague". He asserted it was still not clear whether children would still be held in detention centres this Christmas.
The issue was raised before the previous Christmas also. Then Home Secretary Alan Johnson was urged to stop the unkind and needless practice of keeping children in immigration detention centres.
In a communiqué to Johnson, Liberal Democrat’s then home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne had urged him to consider the plight of children, who would spend Christmas locked up in the centres.
The letter was shot off soon after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had sought the scrapping of the controversial asylum policy on detaining children in removal homes.
Launching an attack on the policy, Clegg too had asserted it would see hundreds of innocent children spend Christmas behind bars. How could the Government justify “state sponsored cruelty”? Clegg had then questioned.
Only about a week back, the Coalition Government had claimed it was working with a number of charities representing children and asylum seekers to achieve this end. `We are currently piloting alternative schemes in London and the North West,’ the UK Border Agency had added.
`The government is committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes and is working with a number of charities representing children and asylum seekers to achieve this end,’ it said.
The UKBA added: `In making decisions on asylum, staff working directly with families is trained to safeguard and protect the wellbeing of children and adults in their care’.
It claimed barbed wire has been removed from Yarl’s Wood in 2009 and ‘caged’ vehicles are no-longer used for moving children.