Government working with charities representing children, asylum seekers 1st December 2010: Reiterating its stand on ending detention of children for immigration purposes, the Government has claimed it is working with a number of charities representing children and asylum seekers to achieve this end. `We are currently piloting alternative schemes in London and the North West,’ the UK Border Agency has added.
It was responding to Channel 4’s Dispatches programme on child asylum cases. The UKBA asserted child asylum and the detention of children for immigration purposes has been the subject of widespread media attention.
`The government is committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes and is working with a number of charities representing children and asylum seekers to achieve this end,’ it said.
The UKBA added: `In making decisions on asylum, staff working directly with families is trained to safeguard and protect the wellbeing of children and adults in their care’.
It claimed barbed wire has been removed from Yarl’s Wood in 2009 and ‘caged’ vehicles are no-longer used for moving children.
On the issue of age assessments, the UKBA said: `This can sometimes be a difficult issue. However, we will give the claimant the benefit of the doubt until a local authority age assessment is made, and other evidence considered. Additionally, we have a duty of care to protect children by ensuring that we do not house them with adults claiming to be minors – in order to remain in the UK.
The assertions come soon after a group of Labour, Liberal Democrat and independent peers condemned government’s delay in ending the detention of children at immigration centers.
In a letter to the Guardian, supported by the Children’s Society, 10 peers and two bishops had called for an immediate end to the practice.
More than 50 children have been detained since the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, pledged six months ago that the family wing at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire would close.
The peer’s letters stated the children were still being held in detention, in spite of clear evidence that this was harmful. The peers also called upon the government to fulfill the promise it made to end the detention of children without further delay.
The authorities were asked to develop a more humane system for the treatment of families and children subjected to immigration control.
Among the signatories were former Labour MP Lord Dubs, who was director of the Refugee Council, former Liberal Democrat Lord Dholakia and the Bishops of Lincoln and Leicester.