The number of children detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre for long periods is “truly shocking”, the No Place for a Child coalition of charities said yesterday.
The group made the comments after a report by the chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, found that seven out of 32 children detained at the centre in February 2006 had been there for longer than 28 days.
Jane Dykins, head of the children’s section at the Refugee Council and speaking on behalf of the consortium, said the cost of detention was high for the state but “much higher” for children, who did not know why they were locked up or how long they would be there.
Owers, who interviewed children about the negative effect of detention on their wellbeing, called for a “complete overhaul” of the policy of detaining children informed by a proper understanding of their vulnerability.
Responding to the report, Home Office minister Liam Byrne said the government was committed to ensuring that the detention of children was kept to a minimum period.