To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children were detained at Tinsley House immigration removal centre for more than 72 hours during 2009. [HL1125]

parliament_logoHouse of Lords / 26 Jan 2010 : Column WA316
Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children were detained at Tinsley House immigration removal centre for more than 72 hours during 2009. [HL1125]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): During 2009, 111 children were detained at Tinsley for more than 72 hours. This figure is taken from local data normally used for management information only.

Following a recent internal review, however, we have taken the decision to limit the length of stay for children to just 24 hours, after which they will be transferred to Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.

This is an interim measure pending a programme of changes we will be making at the centre to improve facilities for children.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldhansrd/text/100126w0003.htm#10012667000349

26 January 2010

“The child’s best interests are not a primary consideration in immigration decisions. Immigration control takes priority over human rights obligations to children seeking asylum and their families”

outcryReport from Child Abuse & Neglect 33 (2009) 573–585

a b s t r a c t

Objective: The present study aimed to assess the mental and physical health of children held within a British immigration detention center.
Method: A total of 24 detained children (aged 3 months to 17 years) were assessed with their parents or carer after being referred by a registered legal charity. Thirteen were seen by a pediatrician alone, 4 by a psychologist alone, and 7 by both professions using semi-structured clinical interviews. The psychologist also used standardized self-report questionnaires to measure psychopathology.
Results: During the psychological assessment of 11 children, 8 met criteria for psychiatric “caseness” on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. All 11 reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sleep problems, somatic complaints, poor appetite, emotional symptoms, and behavioral difficulties were common. Symptoms of global distress were also reported by all 9 parents. According to pediatric assessment 8 out of 20 children had lost weight. Six had missed health appointments and 2 were taken to hospital. Nutritional, developmental, educational, and child protection concerns were raised.
Conclusions: Detained children were found to be experiencing mental and physical health difficulties of recent onset, which appeared to be related to the detention experience. These findings support previous Australian studies demonstrating that detention is not in the best interest of the child. It suggests that current UK policies regarding the detention of children for purposes of immigration control should be re-examined. Further research in the area is required. Continue reading ““The child’s best interests are not a primary consideration in immigration decisions. Immigration control takes priority over human rights obligations to children seeking asylum and their families””

The Detention of Children in the Immigration System: First Report of Session 2009–10

parliament_logoHouse of Commons Home Affairs Committee: The Detention of Children in the Immigration System
First Report of Session 2009–10, Report, together with formal minutes Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 24 November 2009:

Extract:

4. We were told that “nearly 1000 children a year remain in detention”,  and we have learned that at any one time up to 35 children are detained. However, Mr Wood explained that because of legal reviews and appeals of cases there is often a degree of “re-detention”— “there are duplicates in the sense of families detained twice”. We have been unable to discover how many individual families with children have been detained in the last year.
That such figures are not readily available is troubling. In future, Government statistics should be more informative and state how many separate individuals have been detained, not merely how many people have passed through detention. Continue reading “The Detention of Children in the Immigration System: First Report of Session 2009–10”

Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre

yarls-wood-001Six miles north of Bedford on a desolate hill-top, Yarl’s Wood IRC is purpose built, by the same architects as Harmondsworth and to a similar pattern. It was originally designed for 900 beds as “the biggest immigration detention centre in Europe” but before it could be completed was destroyed, only three months after opening, in a night of riot and fire lead, probably, by exasperated people who had served prison terms for criminal activities, and then, instead of being released or promptly deported, found themselves indefinitely further detained awaiting deportation. Continue reading “Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre”

Report on an unannounced short followup inspection of Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre 13–15 July 2009 by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

hm-inspector-of-prisonstinsley-houseTinsley House immigration removal centre at Gatwick airport, run by G4S, holds men, women and children, most of whom are awaiting removal. When we last visited, we expressed serious concerns at the plight of the small number of children and women held in this largely male establishment. On our return for this unannounced follow-up inspection, conditions had generally deteriorated and the arrangements for children and single women were now wholly unacceptable.
Since our last visit, Tinsley House had effectively become a satellite of its newly opened neighbour, Brook House. This much larger and more secure removal centre, also run by G4S, provided a single management team for both sites. Managers at Brook House had faced a range of teething problems, which appeared to have been the focus of most of their attention. The consequence, pointed out to us by staff and detainees at Tinsley House, was that services and provision there had suffered, and a more restrictive approach had been introduced. Our previous suggestion that the opening of Brook House might allow Tinsley House to be  refurbished to hold only families and single women had been ignored and, instead, already inadequate provision for these most vulnerable detainees had declined further. Continue reading “Report on an unannounced short followup inspection of Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre 13–15 July 2009 by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Report into Tinsley House, Section 3: Summary of recommendations

hm-inspector-of-prisonstinsley-houseThe following is a list of both repeated and further recommendations included in this report. The reference numbers in brackets refer to the paragraph location in the main report.

Main recommendations (from the previous report)
To the centre manager
3.1 If children are to remain at Tinsley House, their detention should be exceptional and only for a few days. (2.1)
3.2 If single women are to remain at Tinsley House, their distinct needs should be systematically identified and met. (2.2)
3.3 If children are to remain at Tinsley House, a qualified teacher should be employed to provide structured and planned education to meet the needs of school-age children. (2.7)
3.4 The centre should provide a welfare officer or team to help detainees prepare for their discharge. (2.8)
Recommendations To the chief executive, UKBA
3.5 Detainees should not be subjected to frequent, unexplained and disorienting transfers around the detention estate. (2.11)
3.6 Reviews of detention should be issued in good time, in a language the detainee can understand, and should reflect balanced consideration of all factors relevant to continuing detention. (2.13)
3.7 On-site staff should regularly review case files and flag up concerns to case holders. (2.14)
3.8 UKBA case owners should consider and respond promptly and fully to detainee applications for temporary release. (2.15)
3.9 Detainees should have sufficient time to confer with representatives before hearings that use the video link facility. (2.16)
3.10 In consultation with the centre, UKBA should ensure that all detainees receive a copy of the bail summary in due time before the hearing, and the on-site immigration team should monitor the receipt of bail summaries. (2.18)
3.11 Detainees who clearly demonstrate a health need should have a care plan. The nurse on duty should see the patient each shift and, if necessary, update the care plan. (2.21)
3.12 The practice of taking additional detainees as reserves to the airport as part of charter flight removals should cease. (2.38) Continue reading “Report into Tinsley House, Section 3: Summary of recommendations”

Promises, promises: Tinsley House children detained by the immigration authorities

bbcmarkeastonBreaking a promise to a child is a pretty mean thing to do. But it appears that the British government is struggling to keep the promises it has repeatedly made to children detained by the immigration authorities.

When inspectors paid a surprise visit to a removal centre near Gatwick in October, they found conditions had actually got worse since they last inspected the facility. Today, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Ann Owers, described the arrangements for children at Tinsley House as “wholly unacceptable”.

tinsley-house

Continue reading “Promises, promises: Tinsley House children detained by the immigration authorities”

Gordon Brown was last night accused of ‘moral cowardice’ for failing to scrap a controversial asylum policy that will see hundreds of innocent children spend Christmas behind bars.

gordon-brownn an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg urged him to bring an immediate end to the policy of locking up the children of families who are facing possible deportation.

Mr Clegg said the policy ‘shamed Britain’ and did nothing to tackle the problem of illegal asylum seekers.

Ministers refuse to say how many children are locked up at the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, but it is believed to affect between one and two thousand children a year.

Campaigners say they have no access to the centre’s living accommodation to monitor conditions, which are said to be ‘prison-like’. Mr Clegg added: ‘This is a dark secret that needs to be brought into the light. Continue reading “Gordon Brown was last night accused of ‘moral cowardice’ for failing to scrap a controversial asylum policy that will see hundreds of innocent children spend Christmas behind bars.”

Intercollegiate Briefing Paper: Significant Harm – the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families

Intercollegiate Briefing Paper – effects of detention on children – 10/12/09
Written by Emma Ginn
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College pf Psychiatrists
Faculty of Public Health

mj1Intercollegiate Briefing Paper: Significant Harm – the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families

‘Any detention of children for administrative rather than criminal purposes causes unnecessary harm and further blights already disturbed young lives.  Such practices reflect badly on all of us.’
Dr Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of General Practitioners

Summary
This briefing from the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the UK Faculty of Public Health describes the significant harms to the physical and mental health of children and young people in the UK who are subjected to administrative immigration detention.  It argues that such detention is unacceptable and should cease without delay.  Other countries have developed viable alternatives and the UK should now follow suit.  Meanwhile a set of specific recommendations is outlined to minimise the damage caused by the detention of children.

Download the document

see also http://www.qarn.org.uk/homepage/category/what-can-you-do/