Govt delays child detention promise

By Ian Dunt

The promise to end the detention of children in immigration centres has been officially delayed.

Campaigners had become increasingly concerned that the pledge, which was in the coalition agreement, was being kicked into the long grass following months of silence over the issue.

But today’s publication of government department business plans revealed that the Home Office is not expecting any reform of the current system until March 2011 at the earliest.

Kamena Dorling, manager of the Migrant Children’s Project at the Children’s Legal Centre said: “This announcement is bitterly disappointing. The coalition government initially promised to end this kind of detention within weeks – it now look like it will still be taking place almost one year into their leadership.

“The best approach would be to end detention immediately and devote time and careful planning to establishing alternatives which safeguard and protect the best interests of children. But the government is delaying ending this extremely harmful practice.”

Plans for “implementation of changes to border and removals operations completed following the end of child detention for immigration purposes” are tabled for the March 2011 date.

The delay is a further embarrassment for Nick Clegg, who branded the detention of children a “moral outrage”.