Messages of support

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)