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Detention custody officers authorised to restrain children

Campaigners raised alarm

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21st September 2010
: After it was revealed detention custody officers were authorised to restrain children, campaigners have raised alarm. They have expressed apprehensions at the disclosure that the staff in immigration detention centres and officers escorting children onto planes for deportation were authorised to use restraint techniques.

The revelation was made following a parliamentary question by Liberal Democrat MP Annette Brooke. Statistics released thereafter showed in a year up to June 2010, detention custody officers were authorised to restrain children on 18 occasions for removal. Restraint techniques were used on three of those occasions.

The statistics also revealed restraint was used a further 13 times by officers escorting children onto aircraft between March 2008 and February 2010

Emma Ginn, coordinator of Medical Justice, campaigning on behalf of immigration detainees, said any restraint on children in detention was inappropriate.

In November 2009, Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 was implemented. It made the UK Border Agency duty-bound to consider children’s safety and welfare in the course of its work, while the children were in the UK.

Jonathan Ellis, policy director at the Refugee Council, asserted the UKBA has an obligation to safeguard the welfare of children, so it is of some concern that the restraint of children has been used in recent months. The government must ensure that any alternative to detention has the wellbeing of children at its heart.

Responding to the concern, Conservative immigration minister Damian Green said those using restraint in immigration cases must undergo training in techniques approved by the National Offender Management Service.

He insisted they only use restraint on a child where it is strictly necessary to prevent self-harm or to protect others and property.

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