4 Sep 2008

The Children's Society is supporting The New Statesman’s ’No Place for Children’ campaign to end the immigration detention of children. The charity is one of a raft of other UK charities and organisations calling for an end to this inhumane practice.

The campaign launches on 04 September 2008 with a powerful feature by the children’s commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green. The campaign is calling for an end to this practice, and crucial improvements in the meantime:

  • Better independent oversight of the system.
  • Accurate records of all children in the immigration detention system
  • Welfare assessments of all children on entry into detention
  • Reasons for detention and reviews given to parents in their own language

The Children’s Society is keen to add its voice to this campaign, since together with Bail for Immigration Detainees it will also be campaigning for an end to detention of children for immigration purposes over the next three years. The work is funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

The Children’s Society, Bail for Immigration Detainees and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund will build upon the work of those groups and organisations that have been campaigning independently to bring an end to the detention of children. The charities believe that it is never acceptable to detain children and that seeking asylum is a human right enshrined in international law.

The UK detains an estimated 2,000 children a year for the purposes of immigration control. This is the only group of children who can be locked up without time limit and with no judicial oversight for administrative purposes2.

The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees will deliver practical, emotional and legal support to families in detention – helping secure their release and providing support to families coping with the impact of detention. The grant will also build an evidence base to challenge the use of child detention and to make a clear case for change to government and the wider public.

The charities will seek to emphasise that the welfare of children must be a priority when deciding to detain a family. The reality for most children in the immigration system is that their welfare is protected by lesser safeguards than other children in the UK.

Notes to Editors:

  • The New Statesman campaign is officially backed by the Children's Commissioner, Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), The Children's Society and Women For Refugee Women.  Visit www.newstatesman.com/subjects/no-place-for-children.
  • The Children's Society is driven by the belief that every child deserves a good childhood. It provides vital help and understanding for those forgotten children who face the greatest danger, discrimination or disadvantage; children who are unable to find the support they need anywhere else. Visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk
  • Bail for Immigration Detainees is a human rights charity challenging immigration detention in the UK. It provides free legal advice to detained asylum seekers and migrants to help them secure their release and it campaigns to end arbitrary detention. Visit www.biduk.org
  • The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund continues the Princess's humanitarian work in the UK and overseas. By giving grants to organisations, championing charitable causes, advocacy, campaigning and awareness raising, the Fund works to secure sustainable improvements in the lives of the most vulnerable people in the UK and around the world.
  • The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund has given approximately £7 million to organisations working with young refugees and asylum seekers since it was established in September 1997. Ten years after the Princess’s death, the Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative was set up with a core focus of ensuring that the UK’s treatment of children seeking asylum meets international standards on children’s rights. Visit www.theworkcontinues.org.uk

1 Crawley, H. (2005) p.7 No place for a Child, Save the Children
2 UNHCR (2000) Reception Standards for Asylum Seekers in the European Union