Concerns over immigration detention of children
A children's charity has raised concerns over the numbers of children being held in immigration detention. According to The Children's Society, 697 children were held at all Greater London and South East ports between May and the end of August 2011. Almost one third were unaccompanied children. This could mean as many as 2,000 children could be detained each year.
In December 2010, the Government published details of its new policy to end the detention of children; within this the Government retained the right to only hold a few dozen families each year in border cases.
The Children’s Society has welcomed the progress made by the Government, but is disappointed that so many children are still being detained by the UK Border Agency, at the ports and at the new ‘Pre-Departure Accommodation’.
Concerns have also been highlighted by HM Inspector of Prisons in regards to the monitoring of those detained at port following the unannounced inspections of three Heathrow Terminals. These included a lack of awareness among staff of how to refer child victims of trafficking to the correct authorities.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'We are calling on the Home Office to launch an enquiry in to why excessive numbers of children are being held on entry to the UK and to make sure appropriate measures are in place to meet the welfare needs of what are often extremely vulnerable children.'