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Failed asylum seeking families to remain in community

To be given two weeks notice to board flight home
17th December 2010: Failed asylum seeking families will be allowed to remain in the community; and given two weeks notice to board their flight home.
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These and many more measures form a part of a new humane, fair and compassionate approach to family removals. The steps follow a wide-reaching review and consultation.

According to the UK Border Agency, specially trained family case workers will in future work with families throughout the asylum decision making process. Once a family’s appeals have been exhausted, they will be offered support through a new process.

The process includes: Family conferences not only to discuss their return home, but also welfare and medical concerns.

The families will be offered assisted voluntary return packages to help them resettle upon their return. They will also be allowed to self check-in without the need for enforcement action; and finally; an ensured return, as a last resort.

If they fail to depart the UK, the UKBA will consider a range of options to ensure the return of families, which will be tailored to each family’s circumstances. Return plans will be agreed by a new independent panel.

New options being developed include a form of short notice removal, the use of open accommodation, and – as a last resort where families resolutely fail to comply – family friendly, pre-departure accommodation, where the UKBA will allow children to have the opportunity to leave the premises subject to a risk and safeguarding assessment and suitable supervision arrangements.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Our aim is to support families throughout this process, helping them remain in the community, and giving them every chance to tie up their affairs, before their flight home.

‘Sadly there are always going to be those who try to frustrate the process and refuse to comply with our requests to leave. For those families, we have developed a range of options short of detention to ensure their return.’

Green added: ‘There is a fine balance between taking a compassionate approach to family removals, and ensuring individuals with no legal right to be in the UK cannot prolong their stay and break the rules.

‘I believe our new measures are both humane and fair. We are providing assistance packages, and family conferences to ensure families understand their options, and will be trying to ensure that they can remain in the community prior to their departure home’.

The UK Border Agency aims to have the new pre-departure accommodation in place in May 2011. In the meantime, if a family refuses to return home, Tinsley House near Gatwick Airport may be used as a last resort.

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