Peers call for end of child detention in immigration centres

Following the Home Office’s decision to postpone until March the end of child detention in immigration removal centres, a group of peers has written to the Guardian calling for the government to honour their commitment to end the practice.

The group of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Crossbench peers includes Roger Roberts and Navnit Dholakia, as well as Sue Miller, who told Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning that the equivalent of four or five primary schools per year are being locked up:

We are really tired of waiting for the end of child detention… We need not to lock up innocent children… it has been about 1000 a year.

[You can listen to the clip here]

The letter in full:

Six months ago today the coalition government promised to end detention of children for immigration purposes. Yet children are still being held in detention, despite clear evidence that this is harmful. We call on the government to fulfil the promise that it made to end the detention of children without further delay and to develop a more humane system for the treatment of families and children who are subject to immigration control.

There is evidence from countries such as Sweden that far fewer families end up facing forced removal if steps are taken throughout the immigration and asylum process to address the barriers that prevent families best presenting their case.

Child welfare and safeguarding must be placed at the heart of any new practice that is developed. We have an opportunity to restore the reputation of this country for keeping our promises and for protecting children from harm. The time for prevarication is over and the time for action has come.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Lord Dubs
Lord Dholakia
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
Lord Hylton
Earl of Sandwich
Bishop Tim Stevens
Baroness Howe of Idlicote
Lord Griffiths
Bishop John Saxbee
Baroness Richardson

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6 Comments

  • Patrick Smith 12th Nov '10 - 10:37pm

    There needs to be final proof that the `Coalition Government’ promise to stop locking up primary age children in detention centres is done and the noble peers are right to demand it.

  • TheContinentalOp 12th Nov '10 - 11:00pm

    Before getting his ministerial car the Lib Dem leader called this state sponsered cruelty & demanded it ended immediatley.

    What’s changed?

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 13th Nov '10 - 12:01pm

    Well done the peers! Keep the pressure on until it happens. I went to a fringe meeting on this subject at the Liverpool conference and I believe that the pressure has to be kept on the Home Office about this.
    There are definitely difficult cases in this, which are readily easy to identify, but I am convinced that many of the families could be released quickly. This should be done before a solution is found for the more difficult cases – families on the eve of deportation, families where the adult(s) are likely to disappear or cases where proper childcare has to be arranged. They can all be solved better than the present system, given the resources and the will.
    There are sources of inertia in the system: the Home Office doesn’t want bad headlines in the tabloids, and would be most at ease adopting a “complete” answer. Some of the responsible people are in the private sector, and their economic interests are threatened.

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Nov '10 - 1:48pm

    Before getting his ministerial car

    One of the first actions of the government was to scrap those.

  • TheContinentalOp 13th Nov '10 - 2:04pm

    @Andrew Suffield

    No it wasn’t.

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