4 Nov 2010

OutCry! is back in the news, as the BBC investigates the Government’s progress towards ending the detention of children for immigration purposes (add link to BBC webpage).

It has been more than five months since the government pledged to end the immigration detention of children. OutCry! welcomed the Government’s promise but is very concerned that children are still being detained. There is extensive evidence of the physical and mental ill-health experienced by children in detention.

In the BBC reports (November 2 Today programme), the Immigration Minister Damian Green was quoted as saying: “Significant progress has been made in working towards the commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes and we are currently piloting some proposed changes to our approach developed with partners.”

Details were given about how the Government has been piloting alternatives to the detention of children and it was revealed that 113 families have been included in a scheme in the North West and London. Alternative measures, such as splitting families, monitored accommodation near airports and electronic tagging are also being considered.

In an interview for the programme, Penny Nicholls, the Director of Children and Young People’s Services at The Children’s Society expressed concern and called for changes to the current system – from start to finish - to make it fairer for families and children caught up in the immigration process. Proper access to legal advice should be given and families should be consulted and listened to.

OutCry! is worried that the government pilots are not safeguarding children’s best interests. The campaign will continue to urge the Government to end child detention and to ensure that child welfare and safeguarding are at the heart of any new practice that is developed.