Raids carried out between 6.30 am and 6.40 am
27th July 2010: A report by the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency says raids on asylum families facing exile at dawn had become the norm. There was also no evidence to substantiate these raids were considered necessary.
The Chief Inspector John Vine said that the investigation of 42 deportation cases found that the majority of arrests of families by UKBA were carried out as early as between 6.30am and 6.40am.
The report disclosed that many families were given less than 45 minutes to pack all their belongings, including clothes, medication and children’s toys, before being taken to a detention centre to await removal. One raid even took place before 6.20am as per the findings.
Vine was sharply critical of this practice of dawn raids. He rejected explanations from immigration staff that this was the optimum time to find a family together before children go to school and to minimise any community reaction. In his report he pointed out that mostly a family was given as little as 30 minutes to pack.
Vine said although they found awareness that the time of the arrest could be tailored to each family’s circumstances, but at the same time, there was no evidence that this was happening in practice.
He asserted that he recognised through the checks, that arresting families was an unpleasant experience at any time of day, with a potential negative impact on children in particular.
As per the report, prima facie it appeared that early morning arrests had become the custom with little consideration to arrest at different times.
The chief inspector stated that there was no individual approach to the timing of the arrest of each family, given their particular circumstances.
The report further added an arrest involving a parent with a child below school age could feasibly take place later in the day.
Vine in his report revealed that alternative arrangements had been made in Glasgow to enable families to be arrested later in the day at reporting centers, but the practice had not been adopted in England and Wales.
Vine elaborated that it was unacceptable that UKBA had no system in place to publish information on families subject to removal and those who are detained.
He added that UKBA management information depicted that 1,168 children left detention in 2008-09, of which 539 were deported from Britain and 629 released.
The report highlighted that there was very limited evidence of any individual action plan, existing for each family that was arrested, which took account of their welfare needs or arrangements to return home.