Let’s end child detention at the Release Carnival,

Our friends at SOAS Detainee Support are hosting the Release Carnival in London’s Torrington Square on Saturday 5th June from 12 noon, calling on the government to stop detaining families now.

When the new government said it would ‘end the detention of children for immigration purposes’ some people proclaimed victory.

But as the families locked up in Yarl’s Wood reminded everyone in a letter to Nick Clegg (published in last Sunday’s Observer), ‘we are still here in the detention centre’.

The new government, which could have immediately halted the dawn raids and detentions that cause children so much harm, and arranged for the release of the families locked up, has chosen instead to launch a wide-ranging review.

Running the review may be the very Home Office officials who have lied and misrepresented the medical evidence of harm in order to defend and sustain the detention policy.

Representing the interests of asylum families may be charities who have not exactly come out fighting so far.

We want the families released now. That’s not a wild or unreasonable point of view. Here’s Malcolm Stevens, a former government adviser, writing in the Daily Telegraph: ‘Children must be removed urgently from wherever their safety and welfare is at risk. As this includes Yarl’s Wood, it must be closed at once.’

Families don’t abscond. Even the UK Border Agency said so, albeit accidentally when executive Dave Wood told a parliamentary committee that families don’t abscond but should be locked up anyway to deter others from even thinking about coming here.


The medical evidence of harm is ‘incontrovertible’ according to Professor Sir Al Aysnley-Green, writing in The Guardian under the headline: ‘Speedy end to child detention is needed.’

And he should know, being the eminent paediatrician who as first Children’s Commissioner for England personally interviewed distressed children at Yarl’s Wood and, with his team of physicians, studied children’s medical and detention records and were appalled by what they found.

There is no excuse for continuing to detain families. Please spread word about the Release Carnival. It’s going to be a good day out, with circus performers and food, and a positive feeling.

Release Carnival starts in Torrington Square at 12noon. And then at 2pm we march on Downing Street. Everyone is welcome. Together we will force the government to end child detention not in a few months’ time, or maybe next year, but now.