Rulings on children ‘made in the dark’

Ministers are believed to be making decisions on detaining asylum-seeking children longer than 28 days without knowing all the facts.

England’s children’s commissioner, Al Aynsley-Green, said welfare assessments of children at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre took place only after they had been detained for at least 21 days.

This would make it “highly unlikely” that a report could be completed in time to inform decisions on detention beyond 28 days, which must be authorised by a minister.

Aynsley-Green, who has produced a report after undertaking the “journey” experienced by asylum-seeking children admitted to Yarl’s Wood, found that children were given little information about why they were being detained or what was likely to happen to them.

Speaking to Community Care, he also criticised section nine of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, under which children of failed asylum seekers can be taken into care. He called for it to be abolished and said a government review of the clause was overlooking its impact on children.

A Home Office spokesperson said the review would consider the views of social services departments.

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