Dungavel children’s welfare checks have yet to start – six months on

No welfare assessments of children detained in an immigration
removal centre have taken place – more than six months after the
government announced the policy, Community Care has

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, no
such assessments have taken place.

The government also announced plans to roll out the assessments to
children in other centres following the Dungavel pilot, but the
Home Office said these were “yet to begin”.

Recent figures show there were two children at Dungavel, nine at
Tinsley House removal centre and 24 at Oakington immigration
reception centre.

Sarah Cutler, policy and research officer at the charity Bail for
Immigration Detainees, criticised the absence of assessments but
added that even when implemented, they would not be ideal. The
charity would like to see assessments carried out as soon as
possible after detention, in line with the chief inspector of
prisons’ recommendations.

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.”

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 receiving this information.

The Home Office spokesperson said that although the assessments
would provide an “additional element of information” the minister
is being kept informed on any welfare concerns identified about a

The spokesperson added that most families with children were
detained only for “very short periods” and that in most cases there
would not be sufficient time for a meaningful assessment to take

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