Govt accused of climb down over child detention

by Peter Wozniak

The Home Office is backtracking over comments made on Monday in the House of Commons by the immigration minister Damian Green which put the government’s commitment to end child detention in doubt.

During Home Office oral questions, the minister said it was the government’s intention to “minimise the detention of children in the future as a whole.”

This was perceived as a downgrading of previous statements categorically indicating that the government would end the detention of minors for immigration purposes.

Mr Green attempted to row back from that implication on Thursday, saying: “Significant progress has been made in working towards the commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes and we are currently piloting some proposed changes to our approach developed with partners.

“We have already announced that the family unit at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre will close.

“‘The coalition: our programme for government’, published on 20th May, said: ‘We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes’. That remains.”

The issue has caused confusion within government, with Nick Clegg in his first appearance standing in for David Cameron at PMQs mistakenly claiming that Yarl’s Wood was going to close entirely, rather than just the family unit.

The Home Office was forced to clarify the deputy prime minister’s comments.