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
    learned.

    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
    child.

    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
    place.

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