Damning new report condemns child detention

By politics.co.uk staff

The detention of children at immigration centres is distressing and harmful, according to the children’s commission.

Yarl’s Wood, in Bedfordshire, is “no place for a child”, Sir Al Aynsley-Green said, prompting immediate rebuttals from the UK Borders Agency (UKBA).

Sir Al was particularly concerned by the separation of children from their parents, a lack of psychological support and the process of arrest and transportation.

“It is the government’s role rather than mine to decide whether a child should be removed from the UK but I want to make sure the process by which they are removed is humane,” he said.

“Yarl’s Wood is no place for a child.

“Ultimately, I would like to see a far faster process and an end to the detention of children in the asylum system. There needs to be more education about the alternatives to detention.

“But I recognise an end to child detention won’t happen overnight and am working to improve the arrest and detention process by looking at it from the child’s perspective.”

Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council said: “Children continue to be terrified by dawn raids, sometimes being separated from their parents, being removed from their houses without knowing what is going to happen to their things.

“Perhaps most worrying is that some incidents of harm to children’s physical and mental health are still not being properly treated or recorded. There can be no excuse for perfunctory examinations of children or dismissing behaviour such as a child wetting himself at nursery when he previously did not have this problem.”

The commissioner did notice an improvement since his previous report, however, citing a “less institutional feel”, newly constructed classrooms, fewer prison style uniforms being worn, better facilities for feeding babies, a new complaints system and an end to transporting children to Yarl’s Wood in caged vans.

Dave Wood, head of criminality and detention at the UKBA, described some sections of the report as “misguided and wrong”.