At least 697 immigrant children detained by the UK Border Agency at south east ports between May and August, the Children’s Society has revealed following a ‘Freedom of Information’ request for the data.
Taking those figures nationwide, this means up to 2,000 children could be detained every year, and many of them without a parent or other adult to support them.
Although the coalition – particularly Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – has insisted that it will scrap the practice, the charity said it was “horrified at the excessive numbers of children being held” and it was “very disappointed” the government had not kept its promise.
The Children’s Society’s chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: “It is of great concern that this appears to be happening without sufficient monitoring centrally by the Home Office, including why they are being held, their age and critically the length of time that they were held. This raises serious questions about the commitment to end the immigration detention of children.”
The UK Border Agency said its commitment to stop holding immigrant children related to closing detention centres like Yarl’s Wood. But it would still “retain the ability to hold families who have arrived at the border without the right to enter the UK”.
The agency added: “Where it is considered in the family’s best interests not to stay at the airport until the next flight, the UK Border Agency will make arrangements for them to stay at Tinsley House.”
Tom Brake, joint chairman of the parliamentary committee for home affairs, justice and equality, said: “The government has made real progress on detention pre-deportation, but the Children Society figures suggest we now need to focus with the same determination on detention at points of entry. The detention of children whether pre-deportation or at entry ports must be kept to an absolute minimum.” Source: PS Public Service.co.uk
The charity failed to offer any constructive solution to the problem.
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