OutCry! is not alone in believing that the immigration detention of children is harmful and should end. Below is a selection of quotes from religious leaders, writers, medical professionals, and other individuals and organisations who have criticized this Government’s policy:

Message from the Archbishop of York

'It is vitally important that Her Majesty’s Government and those agencies working together for the benefit of children consider how best to protect the dignity and wellbeing of children and families in this country. I commend OutCry! for their commitment to this process, and to the search for effective and humane alternatives to detaining children.
–Sentamu Ebor, Archbishop of York (www.archbishopofyork.org)

Message from Mark Easton, BBC Home Affairs Editor

'What sort of country sends a dozen uniformed officers to haul innocent sleeping children out of their beds; gives them just a few minutes to pack what belongings they can grab; pushes them into stinking caged vans; drives them for hours while refusing them the chance to go to the lavatory so that they wet themselves and locks them up sometimes for weeks or months without the prospect of release and without adequate health services? My country, apparently.'
–Mark Easton, BBC Home Affairs Editor (read Mark Easton’s blog, Children in detention in Yarl’s Wood)

Messages from writers

(With thanks to citizens campaign, End Child Detention Now, ecdn.org)

'What kind of country are we? Our government ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child but locks up children refused asylum on our shores. When shall we face the mirror of shame?'
Beverley Naidoo, Carnegie Medal-winning novelist

'It’s appalling to think small children are treated so brutally, transported in cages and locked up for months. We need to stop such harsh detaining of asylum-seeking children. Good luck with the campaign.'
Jacqueline Wilson, former Children’s Laureate

'Any imprisonment is traumatising, but imprisoning children who have not robbed, or shot anyone, children who by their very nature look to adults for love and support must be seen as child cruelty. It doesn't matter if the child is locked up in a room at the back of a house, or a room at the back of a field, it will affect, and stay with the child for the rest of its life.'
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet

'The shocking and brutal act of locking up innocent children is unacceptable. To take the poor, frightened and needy and to criminalise them, to subject them to such terror, is nothing short of child abuse. Yet where are the protests? Is the UK really willing to excuse this abuse simply because it happens to the children of 'outsiders'? Well, not in my name. Child detention is a shameful and inhuman policy, accepted only in the worst of illiberal regimes. It is NOT acceptable in the UK and must stop now.'
Bali Rai, author of City of Ghosts

'To persecute a child who flees persecution; to imprison a child who flees imprisonment; to abuse a child who flees abuse: these are acts of barbarism, not of civilisation. We should be ashamed to place our own desire for security above a child's need for compassion.'
John Dougherty, author, poet, songwriter

Messages from medical professionals

'The three Royal Colleges and the UK Faculty of Public Health believe that the administrative immigration detention of children, young people and their families is harmful and unacceptable and call on the Government to see this issue as a matter of priority and stop detaining children without delay…Other countries have developed viable alternatives to children being held in administrative immigration detention. Now the three Royal Colleges and the UK Faculty of Public Health call for the UK to follow suit as soon as possible.'
from joint briefing by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health, Intercollegiate Briefing Paper: Significant Harm - the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families (9 September 2009)

'This study clearly provides evidence that the British system of immigration detention, although often relatively brief, is nevertheless potentially harmful to the mental and physical well-being of children. These findings support those of previous reports that detention is not in the best interest of the child and should not be used for the purposes of immigration control. As there is currently no clear evidence to indicate that detention is necessary in order to prevent families from absconding, more humane alternatives to current practice must be explored.'
from 'The mental and physical health difficulties of children held within a British immigration detention centre: A pilot study' Lorek A, Ehntholt, K., Wey, E., Githinji, C., Rossor, E., Wickramasignhe, R.,Child, Published in Child Abuse and Neglect, the International Journal (September 2009)

'Any detention of children for administrative rather than criminal purposes causes unnecessary harm and further blights already disturbed young lives. Such practices reflect badly on all of us.'
from joint briefing by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health, Intercollegiate Briefing Paper: Significant Harm - the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families (9 September 2009)

Messages from national bodies

'Detaining children for administrative reasons is never likely to be in their best interests or to contribute to meeting the Government’s outcomes for children under the Every Child Matters framework. The administrative detention of children for immigration purposes should therefore end.'
The Children's Commissioner for England, www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk, 'The Arrest and Detention of Children Subject to Immigration Control' (April 2009)

'Overall, this is a deeply depressing report. Provision across a number of areas at Tinsley House had deteriorated since our last visit. In particular, the arrangements for children and single women were now wholly unacceptable and required urgent action by G4S and UKBA.'
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an unannounced short follow-up inspection of Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre, 13-15 July 2009 (published December 2009)

'The three Royal Colleges and the UK Faculty of Public Health believe that the administrative immigration detention of children, young people and their families is harmful and unacceptable and call on the Government to see this issue as a matter of priority and stop detaining children without delay….Other countries have developed viable alternatives to children being held in administrative immigration detention. Now the three Royal Colleges and the UK Faculty of Public Health call for the UK to follow suit as soon as possible.'

Joint briefing by The Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health “Significant Harm: the effects of immigration detention on the health of children and families in the UK” (9 December 2009)

More from Medical Professionals here

Michael Bond kindly forwarded this comment from Paddington Bear:

'Whenever I hear about children from foreign countries being put into detention centres, I think how lucky I am to be living at number 32 Windsor Gardens with such nice people as Mr. and Mrs. Brown.Mrs. Bird, who looks after the Browns, says if she had her way she would set the children free and lock up a few politicians in their place to see how they liked it!'

Paddington Bear (With thanks to Michael Bond)
With thanks to citizens campaign End Child Detention Now

 

For more from Authors Click here

Regious Leaders

'It is vitally important that Her Majesty’s Government and those agencies working together for the benefit of children consider how best to protect the dignity and wellbeing of children and families in this country. I commend ‘OutCry!’ for their commitment to this process, and to the search for effective and humane alternatives to detaining children.'

Sentamu Ebor, Archbishop of York

Politicians on OutCry!

'One of the best ways to judge the moral compass of a nation is how we treat children - all children. There is now concrete evidence that the very young children who find themselves locked up even though they've done nothing wrong are suffering weight loss, post traumatic stress disorder and long lasting mental distress.How on earth can your Government justify what is in effect state sponsored cruelty?'

Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, in an open letter to Gordon Brown

'It is not acceptable that we are detaining so many children for such long periods of time - these children have done nothing wrong, they should not be being punished. The Yarl’s Wood detention centre remains essentially a prison, and that is no place for a child. It must always be absolutely the last resort to keep a child detained for any length of time. Families with children are not a high risk for “disappearing” or absconding.'

Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, Report on the detention of children in the immigration system, November 2009

'What sort of country sends a dozen uniformed officers to haul innocent sleeping children out of their beds; gives them just a few minutes to pack what belongings they can grab; pushes them into stinking caged vans; drives them for hours while refusing them the chance to go to the lavatory so that they wet themselves and locks them up sometimes for weeks or months without the prospect of release and without adequate health services? My country, apparently.'

BBC Home Affairs Editor, Mark Easton – “Children in detention in Yarl’s Wood”

'[The UK government should] intensify its efforts to ensure that detention of asylum-seeking and migrant children is always used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, in compliance with article 37(b) of the Convention.'

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2008 - Concluding Observations United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

'The plight of detained children remained of great concern. While child welfare services had improved, an immigration removal centre can never be a suitable place for children and we were dismayed to find cases of disabled children being detained and some children spending large amounts of time incarcerated. We were concerned about ineffective and inaccurate monitoring of length of detention in this extremely important area. Any period of detention can be detrimental to children and their families, but the impact of lengthy detention is particularly extreme.'

Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an unannounced short follow-up inspection of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, 4 – 8 February 2008

More from National Bodies here