The detention of the children of failed asylum seekers in secure prison units will end by next May, the UK government announced last week.
Parents awaiting forced deportation would still be held in secure houses, but their children would be assigned special minders to enable them to move around freely.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC that it would mean the UK had one of the “most child-friendly” immigration systems in the world.
The Lib Dems and the Conservatives agreed to implement it as part of the post-election coalition agreement. Prime Minister David Cameron described the practice as a “scandal”.
The family section of the Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire will be closed immediately.
Mr Clegg said the decision to no longer detain children in the immigration system “spoke for itself” and marked a “big cultural shift”.
“The change prioritises doing the right thing over looking and sounding tough,” he said. “Reforms which will give the UK one of the most child-friendly immigration systems in the developed world.”
Martin Narey, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s childrens charity, told the BBC that detaining children in Yarl’s Wood was “very, very damaging”, but “not because staff there are monsters or because it’s run badly”.
“Locking away children who haven’t done anything wrong at all – and some of these are very, very young children indeed – putting them in essentially a prison environment with barbed wire, bars and locks is not something we should do.”
Asked whether more families would abscond as a result of the relaxation, he said: “I’m not at all convinced there will be more, but if there were a few more it would be a good price to pay.
“It’s not just about families. This is a significant day for the UK’s reputation as a country that will treat people with compassion.” Source: BBC.
The detention of children has proved a thorny issue for this and the last Labour government, which failed deal with it. One has to give credit to the new coalition government for ‘grasping the nettle’ and ending the locking up of innocent children.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Tier 2 Working visas, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: