Julian Huppert on making sure the end of child detention is underpinned in law

Julian Huppert MP has written over at the Party’s shiny new website about moves he has made to ensure that child detention has gone for good. One of the very first things the Coalition did, at the instigation of the Liberal Democrats, was to change policy so that children were not detained in horrible places like Yarl’s Wood and Dungavel for immigration purposes. That has now been put on a statutory footing, again thanks to the Liberal Democrats:

Working closely with Norman Baker in the Home Office I was able to secure a commitment from the Home Secretary that the Government would bring forward legislation via amendments to the Immigration Bill. Today as a result a series of amendments have been put down in the Lords placing Independent Family Return Panels and Pre-Departure Accommodation on a statutory footing and making sure no child is left languishing in detention for immigration purposes.

This is a huge victory for the Liberal Democrats who campaigned tirelessly on the issue in opposition and continued to put pressure on our Tory colleagues in Coalition. We have shown that taking the right action is better than sounding tough and as a result no future government will be able to reverse our policy without full parliamentary scrutiny in the public eye.

This is not just a victory for the children who will be saved from the traumatic experience of being locked behind bars and surrounded by barbed wire but also for Britain; we have shown that we are a compassionate country who will treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their situation.

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  • Chris Manners 26th Feb '14 - 12:15pm

    Clearly, you’re doing much better than Labour, and credit for that.

    But this article suggests there’s been a fair bit of rebranding of child detention, via the use of Barnados.


    “The coalition has built a new detention centre for the sole purpose of holding families and children. The centre is called Cedars – a government acronym for Compassion, Empathy, Dignity, Approachability, Respect and Support. The new facility is referred to as ‘pre-departure accommodation’, but the wire fences, CCTV and 24 hour security – not to mention inspections by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons – show the truth that children sent to Cedars are being detained”

    Huppert seems to pop up regularly with “look at this progressive thing we’ve achieved”.

    Hope he gets a fair bit more scrutiny in the future.

  • So you’re saying that there wasn’t an impending court challenge over the use of force against children and pregnant women at Cedars?


  • Roger Roberts 26th Feb '14 - 1:42pm

    It’s been a long and difficult struggle.At its peak 2,000 children a year were detained for immigration purposes. At the las t count 20 had been detained for a matter of hours during December. We would like a nil count but the new Bill thanks ONLY TO LIBERAL DEMOCRAT action has an entirely new provision limiting any detention to a maximum of 24 hours and that only g for very exceptional family reasons. If we had achieved nothing else in Coalition this move has removed a dreadful stain from the lives of thousands of children.

  • Rog, comparing 1 month to a year is pretty dodgy stats use. Also, a pity you guys didn’t put something in place stopping the use of force against children and pregnant women at the start, rather than have to be called on it later. For those affected by it, this was worse than under the previous government.

  • Chris Manners 26th Feb '14 - 2:56pm

    My comment seems to have gone- a less hostile one than the one that’s here, so probably a glitch not modding.

    Credit for being better than Labour on this. But isn’t it basically detention, albeit in (for now) generally decent conditions? Is that what you anticipated when you made the initial promise.

    The link I gave talks about numbers creeping up again too.

  • “Barnardo’s staff played an important role in the centre and their involvement was a major factor in securing the safety and wellbeing of children while they were held”

    Surely ‘held’ is a synonym for ‘detained’, isn’t it? I can believe there has been a significant improvement here, but isn’t it more than a little silly to say child detention has been ended when children are evidently still being detained?

  • Stuart Mitchell 26th Feb '14 - 6:24pm

    Luxury detention is still detention.

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