11 Feb 2010

Immigration minister Phil Woolas has admitted millions of pounds are being paid in compensation to migrants who have been detained in removal centres.

Lisa Nandy, Policy Adviser, The Children's Society and Celia Clarke, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees, comment:

“Not only is immigration detention seriously harmful to children’s physical and mental health, this report also demonstrates that it is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

We do not need to detain children. Other countries do not detain children and they still manage to operate an effective immigration system.

UKBA guidelines state that people who have been tortured or are mentally unwell should only be detained under exceptional circumstances. Yet the case of Carmen Quiroga, who was last week awarded a settlement of £100,000 from the Home Office after it admitted falsely imprisoning her and her children at an immigration detention centre, is evidence that these guidelines are not being met. Because of mistakes like this, the costs are rising.

Alternatives to detention are shown to be cheaper and more humane, yet we continue locking families and children up. There is no evidence that families run away from the authorities if they are not detained. As anyone with children will know, their education and health needs, friendship and family ties, all prevent families ‘disappearing’.”

For more information, please contact Rafi Cooper, The Children's Society media team, tel: 020 7841 4422 email rafi.cooper@childsoc.org.uk