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Scottish Refugee Council: ‘Make detention of children illegal’

Yarl's Wood immigration centre

Scottish Refugee Council calls for the detention of children of failed asylum seekers to be made illegal.

The Scottish Refugee Council says the coalition government should make good on its commitment to end the practice and not wait for the results of a Home Office review.

In 2009, more than 1,000 children were forcibly detained with their families while awaiting removal from the UK.

After the election the coalition government pledged to end the practice of locking up failed asylum families with children. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the House of Commons in July it was “a moral outrage” that more than 1,000 youngsters were detained in immigration centres last year.

But Clare Tudor, the Refuge Council’s policy officer, told the BBC that her organisation wanted “a commitment set in law that would disallow the government at any time in the future to detain children again”.

In the same BBC report Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

“I am bending over backwards to avoid the detention of children, but we are still not sure that if we said we would never detain a child even for a minute then we would effectively be able to remove families that had no right to be in this country.”

The comments follow the publication of the UK Border Agency’s, ‘Family Removals’ report, last week.

Independent Chief Inspector, John Vine released a damming report, raising serious concerns over the terrible way families are treated when they are removed from the UK. Simon Hodgson, Director of Policy and Communications at Scottish Refugee Council, said:

“We welcome this report and its recommendations. The issues it has raised come as no surprise to us, as our caseworkers deal with many of them on a day-to-day basis.

“The report reveals a haphazard approach to family welfare in the asylum process and a lack of consistency in how removals are being carried out. It comes at a time when the UK Government has pledged to bring an end to the detention of children in the asylum process.

“Whatever alternative system they introduce should take heed of the recommendations from this report, in particular developing a clear action plan for each family, and publishing clear management information.

“The Independent Chief Inspector says the UK Border Agency needs a fundamentally new approach to how they work with families, a view that we share. A fair and just asylum process is not one in which staff put targets and timetables ahead of the welfare of the people they are dealing with.”

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