Detention centres fail to meet child welfare safeguards

Campaigners have renewed pressure for an end to the practice of
detaining asylum-seeking children, following new critical reports
from the chief inspector of prisons.

In the reports published last week, Anne Owers described the
arrangements for safeguarding children at Tinsley House Immigration
Removal Centre in West Sussex and Dungavel House Immigration
Removal Centre in Scotland as “seriously deficient” and
“inadequate” respectively.

She said she remained “extremely concerned” about
the welfare of children held at all immigration removal centres
inspected to date and called on the Home Office’s Immigration
and Nationality Directorate to ensure that the necessary
professional and appropriate care was in place wherever children
were detained and that independent social services assessments of
their needs were carried out.

Urging the government to find “more humane”
solutions to detaining families, the Refugee Council said:
“We already know that detaining children is enormously
harmful. The fact that facilities for children are totally
inadequate adds insult to injury.”

Responding to Owers’ comments, Home Office minister Tony
McNulty insisted that detention was “an essential part of an
effective immigration system”, adding that he was committed
to ensuring that this was done with humanity and dignity.

He promised to respond to the issues raised by Owers once he had
had chance to study both reports in full.

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