Children in immigration detention held in 'prisons'

29 November 2009

The Home Affairs Select Committee published a report on the detention of children in the immigration system on 29 November, after hearing evidence from Ali Soyei, Programme Manager at The Children's Society and Amanda Shah, Assistant Director of Policy at Bail for Immigration Detainees.The two organisations are campaigning together to end the immigration detention of children under the banner OutCry!.

Amanda Shah comments on the report on behalf of the OutCry! campaign: 

“We are glad that the Home Affairs Select Committee has recognised that Yarl's Wood is 'essentially a prison' where children are being held for an ‘unacceptably long time’, and that it has recommended that ‘the detention of young children must only ever be used as a last resort and the length of time spent in detention should be reduced’. However we don’t think the recommendations in their report go far enough.

“In particular, we disagree with the Committee's acceptance of the detention of children for short periods of time, particularly as research released last month showed that even relatively brief periods of time spent in immigration detention can damage a child's mental and physical health.(1)

“Figures released this week showed that the UKBA are detaining more children- 315 children in the last quarter, compared to 235 children in the previous quarter. (2) This national scandal of detaining children for immigration purposes must end now.”

Notes to Editors:

Copies of the report are available from the Home Affairs Select Committee: email hackettdj@parliament.uk or call Jessica Bridges Palmer 020 7219 0724 / 07917 488 447

(1) The mental and physical health difficulties of children held within a British immigration detention centre: A pilot study (Lorek and Ehntholt, 2009, Child Abuse and Neglect the International Journal)

(2) A report released by the Home Office on Thursday 26 November stated that 315 children entered immigration detention in quarter 3 of 2009, compared to 235 in quarter 1 and 235 in quarter 2. Out of the 315 children entering detention, 240 were under 11 years old. The statistics, issued by the Home Office, are available at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/immiq309.pdf

Outcry! campaign
The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees are currently campaigning to end the immigration detention of children and their families. Funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, we are campaigning together under the banner OutCry! Sign up to the campaign by visiting www.outcrycampaign.org.uk.

The Children’s Society
The Children's Society is a leading children's charity committed to making childhood better for all children in the UK. Visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk

Bail for Immigration Detainees
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