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Doctors urge government to completely end child detention

They welcome Clegg’s promise of release by Christmas
10th December 2010: Health experts and doctors have called upon and call on the government to bring the practice of child detention to an absolute and final end as soon as possible.
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The assertion came soon after Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed the government would press ahead with plans to end child detention in immigration cases before Christmas. Nick Clegg too has promised release by Christmas.

Welcoming Clegg’s promise, the call has been given in a letter to The Guardian by Professor Cornelius Katona of Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Rosalyn Proops of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Clare Gerada — Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners, and Professor Lindsey Davies — UK Faculty of Public Health

Referring to a report a year ago, they said the serious psychological and physical harm being caused to hundreds of children detained in Britain’s asylum system were brought to fore.

The story was based on a joint report from the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists, Paediatrics and Child Health, and General Practitioners, and the UK Faculty of Public Health, which called on the government to end the detention of children in immigration centres without delay.

They added a year on, and despite pledges by the coalition government to end the practice, they still had not reached a resolution. They said as doctors they believed locking up children in these centres – or separating them from their parents – was unacceptable.
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In their joint response to the Home Office review into ending the detention of children, evidence of international best practice was submitted and the government was urged to learn from this.

`We welcome Nick Clegg’s promise to release by Christmas a timetable for ending the detention of children – and call on the government to bring this practice to an absolute and final end as soon as possible’, the letter to The Guardian concluded.

Home Secretary Theresa May had only recently 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.

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