Refugee Council has renewed its appeal to the government to end detention of children for immigration purposes.
A new report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons confirms that despite the government’s pledge to end the practice of detaining children for administrative convenience, 42 families were held at Cedars pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick during 2013.
The report describes the ‘palpable’ distress experienced by families within the facility and highlights a number of concerns, including of immigration officers using unnecessary force to detain families, and of families being detained on multiple occasions.
One incident in the report describes a case of immigration officers battering down a family’s door in the early morning without even knocking first.
The report notes: "Whatever one’s views on immigration, the distress described in this report of the families passing through the centre and its potential impact on the children involved is disturbing.”
Refugee Council said they have long campaigned for the government to live up to its pledge to end child detention once and for all.
"Children within the asylum system are already extremely vulnerable and imprisoning them causes lasting psychological and emotional damage,” Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said. "It’s disgraceful that children are consistently put at further risk by the authorities who are supposed to be protecting them. Children must be treated as children first, regardless of their immigration status.”