Status of child protection at removal centre alarms prison chief inspector

Safeguarding arrangements for asylum seeker children detained at
Dungavel immigration removal centre in Scotland remain inadequate,
more than two years after the chief inspector of prisons made a
series of recommendations on how they should be improved.

In a report on the centre, released this week, Anne Owers said she
was “extremely concerned” that her recommendations for independent
welfare assessments had not been implemented.

She had criticised the arrangements for safeguarding children at
Dungavel in her last inspection of the centre carried out in
October 2002.

She said that despite centre staff and the local social services
department working well together they had been unable to get the
Home Office to engage with proposals for independent

In another report on Tinsley House, near Gatwick, which covers an
inspection carried out in November 2004, Owers also found
assessments were not taking place.

She added that child protection procedures were also “seriously
deficient” at the centre. Problems included inadequate criminal
record checks on staff and no dedicated child protection

Sarah Cutler, policy and research officer at Bail for Immigration
Detainees, said that the charity was “appalled” that the government
still had not taken action to satisfy Owers’ child protection

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said that since the two
inspections had been carried out a new dedicated family unit at
Yarl’s Wood had opened to provide a “comfortable environment” for
families who are detained for more than three days.

He added that he would respond to Owers’ recommendations once he
had studied both reports in full.

Asylum statistics out this week show that the number of children
detained has doubled over the first three months of this year.
There were 50 children detained at the end of March 2005 compared
with 25 at the end of last year.

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