A day after damning report, socities calls for review of UK’s children detention policy

The research on deteriorating condition of children is over three years old; Home Office

14th October 2009: Even as the UK Border agency claimed the damning report on inhumane detention of children in immigration removal centres was outdated, children’s societies, organizations and the general public has called for an urgent review of the government’s policy of detaining youngsters.

They are asserting the government needs to end the inhumane and unnecessary practice of detaining children and parents for immigration purposes, especially when it introduced legislation to protect from harm children seeking asylum.

It is being felt the problem is not limited to one centre, and the cases of deteriorating mental and physical health are not isolated incidents. The Children’s Society and other organizations have asserted the children and families supported by them continue to suffer from worsening mental and physical health in detention. To make the matters worse, they are not getting the treatment and support they require.

Nick Scott-Flynn, the head of refugee services, British Red Cross, has asserted the findings are hugely disturbing, but come as a surprise to no one. Children are first and foremost children, and refugees or asylum seekers afterwards. As such, their best interests should be a matter of supreme importance, regardless of immigration status.

Indeed, there are difficult decisions involved, but the British Red Cross is of the firm belief detention of children is not an appropriate policy. It is not only harmful to the children, but alienates them from society at an early age. Detention creates huge barriers in the process of community integration from the beginning. As such, if detention is required, it must be ensured the conditions are congenial and adequate for the physical and psychological wellbeing of those detained.

David Wood, strategic director, criminality and detention group, UK Border Agency, has, on the other hand, asserted treating children with care and compassion was a priority for the Agency. The recently published research was over three years old; and Yarl’s Wood removal centre has been praised on many occasions for its children’s facilities. The chief inspector of prisons recently said they had made significant progress. There were full-time independent social workers, and a range of trained experts to monitor welfare 24 hours a day.

He added they would much rather keep children out of detention. But when the courts say families have no right to be here, yet they refuse to go home voluntarily, detention often becomes necessary to enforce removal from the UK.

By Monika


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