Weight of criticism prompts Home Office to review removal of families

The government has launched a UK-wide review of the way it removes failed asylum-seeking families after strong criticism of the use of dawn raids.

A Home Office spokesperson said ministers wanted to learn whether the removal system for families could be improved. He said the review was set up because of issues raised about the treatment of this group.

Immigration minister Tony  McNulty also announced that the police would take a lesser role in the removal process and that immigration staff would be required to undergo enhanced Criminal
Records Bureau checks.

Further UK-wide measures include proposals to introduce an independent inspection regime for the immigration service across the UK.

Other plans have been announced that only apply to Scotland, following a high-profile campaign against dawn raids backed by the country’s children’s commissioner Kathleen Marshall.

Under the proposals, a lead professional will be allocated to each  asylum case to collect information, such as if family members have mental health problems. This will be passed to the immigration service to be taken into consideration.

A regional director to deal with asylum issues and an independent body with responsibility for complaints against immigration staff will also be created in Scotland.

Marshall said: “I am pleased that there has been progress in terms of taking a more structured approach to the needs of children, howeverthe announcement is not very specific with regard to the critical issues affecting their welfare.”

She said she would regularly contact her fellow children’s commissioners across the UK to safeguard the human rights of children.

Meanwhile, a coalition of children’s charities has estimated that more than 2,000 asylum-seeking children are held in UK detention centres each year. The group, which includes Save the Children and Bail for Immigration Detainees, have launched the No Place for a Child campaign to call on the government to stop detaining children.

A Save the Children spokesperson said the government “must end detention for all children and families given the well-documented longterm damage caused to children”.

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