Detaining children by another name

Detaining children is not a necessary evil, despite the Coalition’s approach

Heaven Crawley, OpenDemocracy, 11 April

The announcement by the Coalition Government back in May 2010 that it would be ending the detention of children for immigration purposes was widely welcomed. Finally the wealth of accumulated evidence on the gap between policy and practice in decisions to detain, and on the negative impacts of detention on children’s mental and physical well-being was being taken into account. Or so it seemed. The introduction of ‘a radical new process’ by the Home Office for removing families with children who have no right to remain in the UK raises significant concerns about whether the Government has delivered on its commitment to end the detention of children…

This facility is not the only place where children are to be detained. The family unit at Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre near Gatwick Airport is currently undergoing a £1 million refurbishment in order to accommodate 38 beds and up to eight families. The immigration minister, Damian Green, in a written answer to a parliamentary question on 8th March 2011 confirmed that there “may also be the occasional need to use Tinsley for criminal or other high-risk families who could not be accommodated safely in the pre-departure accommodation but this would be rare.” It is not clear how “criminal” or “high-risk” families are to be defined, or indeed why significant public funds are being spent on the refurbishment of facilities that will only “rarely” be used.

The continuing detention of children by another name suggests that the Government does not consider that it is possible to end the detention of children altogether. Detention, it seems, is viewed as a “necessary evil” for delivering a robust immigration control policy in the face of resistance on the part of families to co-operate with the removal process.

Where now for the campaign to end child detention?

Syd Bolton, Solicitor, Children’s Legal Centre*

*This is the text of the speech that Syd Bolton gave to the End Child Detention Now/Shpresa

Keep Your Promise campaign launch, Oxford House, Bethnal Green, London, 26th March 2011.

Thank you all for being part of this campaign and for inviting me to take part in this important event. On a day of united action across the UK against public sector cuts; against the loss of essential services and tens of thousands of jobs in the
public and voluntary sectors especially; we must not lose sight of the very close relationship between unemployment and hostility to migrants; between ever stricter border controls and the politics of insecurity. The free movement and privileges enjoyed by global corporations are in stark contrast to the restrictions, conditions and barriers placed in the way of families, their children and relatives, to enjoy their lives together in safety, dignity and with respect. Continue reading “Where now for the campaign to end child detention?”

Revisit recommendations of the JCHR 2007 report

Dr Hywel Francis MP
Joint Committee on Human Rights
Committee Office
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

24th March 2011

Dear Dr Francis,

Re: Revisiting the JCHR report, The Treatment of Asylum Seekers

The 2007 report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) on the treatment of asylum seekers was strongly welcomed by NGOs.  It set out in compelling detail the inadequacies of a system that is failing to protect the human rights of asylum seekers, through arbitrary decision-making, poor administration and overly complex systems.

Sadly, the report did not become the basis of a fairer, more humane, more effective system with human rights at its core.  With the notable exception of the commitment to end the detention of children, there has been little progress on many issues of concern to the JCHR.  Indeed, in some areas the situation has deteriorated significantly.   As organisations concerned about the use of detention, we believe that, four years on, it is time for the JCHR to revisit its report and assess how far the Government has addressed problems with the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK. Continue reading “Revisit recommendations of the JCHR 2007 report”

Captive phone market at Tinsley House

Detainees at Tinsley House, near Gatwick, are having their mobile phones confiscated on arrival, and are being forced to rely on a network which allows monitoring – and costs them more for essential calls.
IMMIGRATION detainees are highly dependent on their mobile phones for contact with the outside world, including their legal representatives, family members and where necessary, organisations such as the Samaritans, their MPs and the media. But this is all set to change if a pilot currently being run at Tinsley House is extended. Continue reading “Captive phone market at Tinsley House”