25 Jun 2008

UK Border Agency Must Support Child Welfare

25 June 2008

The Children's Society and Barnardo's are urging the Government to ensure the forthcoming Immigration Bill (to be published in draft in July) effectively safeguards and promotes the welfare of children and young people while their asylum claim is being processed.

Martin Narey, Chief Executive, Barnardo’s said: “Barnardo’s is working alongside The Children’s Society to improve the treatment of children and young people by the UK’s immigration authorities. As members of the Refugee Children’s Consortium both organisations welcome the joint Home Office and Department for Schools and Families clear statement today that the UK Border Agency should have a legal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children."

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, The Children’s Society continued: “This is a welcome and significant step by the Government, one which will see an especially vulnerable group of children receive the protection and consideration they need. The Children’s Society and Barnardo's hope that a swift introduction of this duty will offer reassurance to those living in a time of great uncertainty."

Both charities will continue to lobby to ensure that this new legal duty carries the same weight as the existing one placed on the other agencies working with children and that the DCSF will work closely with the Home Office on this issue.

Notes to Editors:

1. During the Committee Stage debate on the Children and Young Persons Bill, the Children’s Minister, Rt Hon Beverley Hughes MP announced that the Government would table an amendment at Report Stage to remove Clause 7 of the Bill adding the immigration authorities to the list of agencies who have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children whilst carrying out their work
2. Clause 7 was added to the Bill by the House of Lords following lobbying by the Refugee Children’s Consortium
3. The Refugee Children’s Consortium is a coalition of over 30 children’s and refugee agencies including Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society
4. Representatives from both organisations are available for comment