Fears growing: Statement from The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees

The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees was delighted by the pledge made by the new Government to end the barbaric practice of detaining children for immigration purposes and Nick Clegg’s promise that Yarl’s Wood family unit will close. But there is increasing concern about the absence so far of a clear formal announcement of a change in policy from Immigration Minister, Damian Green.

Fears are growing, too, that rushed-through alternative ways of dealing with families could also mean huge distress to children facing deportation. It appears from leaked documents that a recently-started Liverpool pilot is giving families only two weeks notice to pack their bags voluntarily or face the prospect of forced deportation after the deadline expires.

We feel that children will suffer greatly if alternatives like this are adopted. More compassionate and workable approaches are needed that take into account the best interests and welfare of the child from start to finish in the immigration process. We look forward to a formal announcement soon confirming the end of the child detention policy.

06 August 2010

OutCry! campaign – Latest news

We wanted to update you on the events of the last few weeks. As many of you will have seen, the immigration detention of children has been back in the news.

On the positive side, on 21 July OutCry! warmly welcomed the announcement from Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, that the Government would close the family wing of Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire as part of its commitment to end child detention. We called this announcement “a huge step in the right direction”.

We have been working hard to contribute our views to the working group that has been informing the Government’s review. Nick Clegg’s statement to Parliament gave us real hope that we would shortly hear a full and formal announcement that no more children would face the serious physical and mental harm caused by locking them up in detention centres.

Last week, unfortunately, Bail for Immigration Detainees and The Children’s Society felt we had to issue a less positive statement highlighting our growing fears about the Government’s rushed-through and distressing efforts to pilot alternative ways of treating families through the asylum and immigration process. Our statement followed news coverage on 6 August about a leaked document from the UK Border Agency. The document detailed a recently-started pilot in Liverpool giving families only two weeks notice to take up voluntary return before UKBA would enforce their removal direct from their homes to the airport – a process that sounds neither humane nor workable.

It is clear that our fight is not yet over. OutCry! will continue to urge the Government to fulfill its pledge without delay. It is vital that they put in place a more humane and compassionate system which puts the welfare of children as the top priority in improving the treatment of families throughout the asylum and immigration process.

Thank you for your continuing support. We will of course update you once we know more.

The OutCry! Campaign Team

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