The OutCry! campaign is delighted that Nick Clegg has set out a timetable to end the abhorrent practice of detaining children in immigration centres. We particularly welcome the immediate closure of the family unit at Yarl’s Wood.
The government is to be commended for taking seriously the need to put children’s welfare at the centre of the asylum process. Although we await more detail, the family conferences and the independent family returns panel could be positive developments.
If children’s safeguarding is given top priority and families have enough time to consider their options, these changes should increase communication and trust within the asylum and immigration process.
But we strongly urge the government not to detain children while the transition is being made. There have been over 100 children detained since the government promised to end detention and the mental, physical and emotional damage that will be caused by detaining children over the next few months is incalculable.
The government has acknowledged the damage caused to children and even though they claim that Tinsley House will be ‘family-friendly’, OutCry! believes that this abhorrent practice should be ended immediately. One more child in detention is one too many.
We also have serious concerns about the government’s plans to hold families in secure ‘pre-departure accommodation.’ In reality, young children will not be able to come and go freely from any accommodation where their parents are being held under lock and key.
We are concerned that this accommodation could replicate some of the harm caused to children by detention. We urgently await clearer proposals as to how children will be safeguarded in this process. The government needs to ensure that we do not end up with families being held in detention by another name.
The OutCry! Campaigns Team