Under fire for detaining children, Home Office says its last resort

Detention only when families refuse to leave 04 November 2009: A day after the Scottish National Party called for an end to the detention of children in the removal homes, the UK Border Agency has asserted detention has always been the last resort in case of families refusing to leave despite “opportunity, incentives and assistance”.

The order Agency’s director of detention services, Alan Kittle, has asserted: ‘We do not want to detain families with children. However, when the independent courts have upheld our decision that they are not in need of protection, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily.

‘We have a duty to enforce immigration laws, and detention is only ever used where families have failed to leave despite being given every opportunity, incentives and assistance to do so, in order to enforce their departure.’

Taking up the issue, Scottish National Party MP-cum- the party’s home affairs spokesman Pete Wishart had earlier asserted detaining children in centres meant for adults was simply wrong. Regardless of the position of the parents, children should not be detained behind barbed wire; and it was completely unacceptable.

Elaborating, Wishart said children’s welfare was not well served by the UK’s actions; and regardless of their parents’ immigration status, children should pay the price.

He also blamed the government for detaining the equivalent of a high school every year across the UK. Wishart also expressed his displeasure over the fact 103 children had been held in Scotland, even though the Scottish Government is firmly against child detention. Describing it as deeply disturbing, he called on the UK Government to end this practice.

The MP said the figures showed nearly 200 children a year were being held for more than four weeks; and he would be pursuing the issue with the UK Government.



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