No welfare assessments of children detained in an immigration
removal centre have taken place more than six months after the
government announced the policy, writes Amy
Last December, then immigration minister Beverley Hughes said that
the welfare and educational needs of any child who was detained at
Dungavel in Scotland for 21 days would be assessed but so far none
have taken place.
The government also announced plans to role out the assessments to
children held in other centres following the pilot at Dungavel, but
the Home Office confirmed these were “yet to begin”.
Recent figures show there were two children at Dungavel, 24 at
Oakington immigration reception centre and nine at Tinsley House
Sarah Cutler, policy and research officer at the charity Bail for
Immigration Detainees, criticised the absence of assessments but
added that even once implemented they were not ideal. BID would
like to see assessments carried out as soon as possible after
detention inline with the chief inspector of prisons’
A Home Office spokesperson said the government was discussing the
arrangements for conducting assessments with South Lanarkshire
social services. “There are complex issues involved and it is
important to get the system right rather than put something in
place that could be inappropriate or unworkable,” he said.
Hughes also announced in December that ministerial authorisation
would be required for any child to be detained for longer than 28
days, and then repeated weekly. Results of the welfare assessments
will be fed into this, but Cutler fears the immigration minister is
not currently getting this information.
The Home Office spokesperson said that although the assessments
would provide an “additional element of information” the minister
is currently informed about any welfare concerns identified about a
He added the majority of families with children were only detained
for “very short periods” and that in most cases there would not be
sufficient time for a meaningful assessment to take place.