Report highlights how immigration detention is 'literally putting children's lives at risk'

27 April 2009

The Children's Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees strongly support the report published by the Children's Commissioner for England, which contains many examples of the harmful impact that immigration detention is having on children.

The two organisations support families who are currently detained or have been detained in Yarl's Wood, as part of their OutCry! campaign, which is calling for an end to the immigration detention of children for administrative purposes.

Lisa Nandy, Policy Adviser at The Children’s Society, comments:

“This report reflects what we are seeing on the ground today with families who are currently detained in Yarl's Wood- the UK Border Agency has not made the improvements necessary to safeguard these children since the Children’s Commissioner’s visit.

"The Secretary of State for Children must intervene immediately as this report exposes a series of serious child protection risks which have not been adequately addressed.

"As the report concludes, poor healthcare provision is literally putting children's lives at risk. Extremely ill children have been detained and denied access to essential medication, health records haven't been checked and children whose health has deteriorated rapidly in detention have not been released.

"Children who had to be hospitalised were surrounded by armed guards in hospital, causing them 'profound distress'. It is outrageous that children in the UK are subject to such inhumane treatment at the hands of the state.”

Amanda Shah, Assistant Director- Policy at Bail for Immigration Detainees, comments:

“The trauma experienced by children in detention comes across very strongly in this report. They describe being transported in caged, urine soaked vans, separated from parents and not being allowed to go to the toilet. There is no proper provision to deal with their psychological distress, directly caused by the Government’s detention policies.

"As the report makes clear, these children are not being detained as a last resort or for the shortest period of time, as the Government often claims. All the available evidence shows children are detained for longer periods with little or no regard for their health or welfare, falling far short of the UK's international obligations.

"Some children are detained repeatedly, and others for very lengthy periods. The Government cannot refute these claims because it does not even bother to count how many children it detains.”

Notes to Editors:

Media enquiries:
For more information or to arrange interviews with expert spokespeople please contact: The Children’s Society’s Media Team, Tel: 020 7841 4422 Email: rdb@childsoc.org.uk, mobile: 07810 796 508.

  • The Children’s Society is a leading children’s charity committed to making childhood better for all children in the UK; www.childrenssociety.org.uk
  • Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) is an independent charity that exists to challenge immigration detention in the UK. We work with asylum seekers and migrants, in removal centres and prisons, to secure their release from detention.
    www.biduk.org
  • The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees are working in partnership on a three-year campaign to end the immigration detention of children. The ‘OutCry!’ campaign is funded by the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. www.theworkcontinues.org