Last resort or first resort? Immigration detention of children in the UK

BID and The Children’s Society have published a new report on detention of children, titled ‘Last resort or first resort? Immigration detention of children in the UK.’ Download the report and executive summary here. The report is based on detailed research into the cases of 82 families with 143 children who were detained during 2009, and uses data from 82 clients’ case files, interviews with 30 family members and 27 legal representatives, and full Home Office files for 10 families.

The research found that in a considerable number of cases, families were detained when there was little risk of them absconding, their removal was not imminent, and they had not been given a meaningful opportunity to return voluntarily to their countries of origin. Indeed, in a large proportion of cases, there were barriers to families returning to their countries of origin during the time they were detained, which meant it was not possible, lawful or in the children’s best interests for the Home Office to forcibly remove them.

The report’s findings are of grave concern, particularly given the considerable existing evidence of the ill health experienced by children in immigration detention. The practice revealed in this report is at odds with the Home Office’s duty under s.55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in its care.

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