Detention unlawful in immigration case

19 April 2011

The High Court has declared that the immigration detention of a mother, resulting in her separation from her three children, was unlawful. The children were in separate foster care arrangements across the UK, isolated from each other and their mother.

Mr Justice Blair reached his conclusion on the basis that the Home Office knew it could not properly assess the best interests of the children (in respect of a proposed deportation) without gathering proper information including parenting assessments. These could not be obtained whilst the mother was in detention.

The Children’s Commissioner intervened in the case to raise her concerns about the adequacy of Home Office decision-making affecting the rights and interests of vulnerable children where parent(s) are detained and the family faces expulsion from the UK.

Statement from OutCry! Campaign – The Children's Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees

The Children's Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees condemn the separation of families for immigration purposes and are pleased that the court found a period of the mother’s detention unlawful. The government has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in all its decision-making. 

Our work with families separated by detention shows that children suffer severe consequences as a result of decisions to separate which do not take into account children’s best interests. Separating families, for the purpose of immigration control, is mentally and emotionally harmful to the young people involved.