LibLink … Chris Huhne: Britain must stop locking up innocent children

Over at the Independent on Sunday, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne rails against the UK’s asylum system for combining ‘staggering bureaucratic incompetence with institutionalised cruelty’. Here’s an excerpt:

… It is one thing to stamp out abuse among asylum-seekers, but quite another to devise a system that combines staggering bureaucratic incompetence with institutionalised cruelty, for every year we are locking up hundreds and probably thousands of children, who have committed no crime, in prison-like conditions.

We do not know exactly how many, because the Government will not provide regular figures, but in June there were 470 such children, most of them under five. Details on living conditions are vague, because campaigners are denied access to accommodation. Even a Father Christmas was prevented from visiting the children held at Yarl’s Wood last week. There is a growing body of evidence that imprisoning these children is causing them significant psychological and physical harm, as a coalition of Royal Colleges showed this month. …

Even if you are worried about families absconding, there are more civilised options than the imprisonment of children. … In Sweden, families with children are accommodated in a reception centre, where their health and support needs are assessed, before being dispersed to regional “refugee centres” with flats organised round a central office. They are assigned caseworkers who offer legal advice, counselling and healthcare. Children cannot legally be detained for longer than three days. This system has been successful both in providing support and in securing compliance with immigration decisions, including return. It has also reduced costs. Similar success stories can be found in Canada and Australia. …

Nearly 1,000 children have been held for longer than a month in the past five years. Every case has been personally approved by a minister at the Home Office. … Locking up children is profoundly at odds with the British tradition of open-heartedness and generosity to those most in need. At Christmas above all other times of year, we should remember our common humanity and end this practice. It hurts the weak and vulnerable, and it shames us.

You can read Chris’s article in full here.

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8 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Dec '09 - 12:39pm

    Have to say, ’combining staggering bureaucratic incompetence with institutionalised cruelty’ describes most government functions.

  • Why don’t you also deal with the real immigration, population and crime situation Chris? We need to get our borders back as community cohesion is at an all time low. There are also far too many ideological factions trying to bring our systems and our religious ways down.

    The Libdems are scared to brooch the REAL issues to get our country back. Minorities are trying to rule the majority by fear, PC methodologies, and hate.

    Ban the Muslim veils, get rid of any element of Shariah law, limit immigration from all countries (particularly EC) and make sure everyone can speak english

  • Malcolm Todd 20th Dec '09 - 3:18pm

    I don’t think we should complain about the party getting an important issue, on which we have a distinctive, humane and liberal stance, into the papers twice in a few days! Well done to both Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne for raising it, and for having the courage to risk being the target of the sort of nasty-minded, ill-informed rubbish that “LibDem Guru” (of all the inappropriate names you could have chosen) has been kind enough to visit upon us.

  • Glad Chris and Nick are raising the unacceptable detention of innocent Children

  • Andrew Suffield 21st Dec '09 - 3:02pm

    While this nutter’s post about the supply teacher is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, I’ll just respond with a less sensationalised and more informative piece from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bristol/8423265.stm

    The teacher is not sacked, she is suspended, and this is simply because a complaint has been filed about her and the appropriate policy states that teachers have to be suspended while complaints are investigated. While some people may find this policy a little harsh, this has got nothing to do with the subject matter of the complaint. It certainly does not need political or media meddling.

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