Children in Bristol and the South West threatened with being locked up despite government promises.

by P
on Friday 11 Mar 2011

type: News Report
topic: Policing
region: South West
The government has broken its pledge to end child detention and merely "rebranded" the draconian practice, asylum campaigners claimed today.The criticism followed the government's announcement of a new system of "pre-removal accommodation centres" for families who have lost their application for asylum.The new centres were announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green today.He claimed they would have "an entirely different feel" to the much-criticised detention centres.

Children's charity Barnardos will work in conjunction with the UK Border Agency to provide support for children being held at the centres.Barnardos said it would not be responsible for security at the centres or afraid to intervene if it believed the welfare of children was being undermined.

Children would normally be held for up to 72 hours prior to their departure, but their detention could reach "a week as a maximum," the Home Office claimed.Families will be free to move around the site, security will be low-key and the centres will not have an institutional feel, the Home Office stated.Mr Green said: "It is crucial that the welfare of children remains an absolute priority during the returns process and the use of this new accommodation will be a last resort."

But Medical Justice co-ordinator Emma Ginn retorted: "We have published medical evidence documenting the physical and mental damage to children caused by immigration detention, which the UK Border Agency has not contested."Despite this, UKBA are setting up 'pre-removal accommodation centres' where children can be detained."They are in effect mini detention centres. The government has broken its promise and has simply rebranded the detention of children."