The Home Office’s UK Border Agency’s website is peppered with the phrases “managing migration” and “enforcing our immigration laws” – hardly child-friendly. Look up Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre on the website and at the end it says it is for single females and families with children. It is the only mention of children you will find.
So the fact that chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers has found disabled children detained there – including one with such severe learning disabilities that they needed one-to-one care – is shocking but unsurprising.
Couple this with the increasing length of time many children are held, and the government’s pledge to place a duty on the UK Border Agency to safeguard and promote the welfare of children is long overdue. But it would be foolish to believe this alone will transform the mindset of this most non child-friendly agency.