Posted by Dr Gill Gillespie, Director, UK:
Iranian Refugees Action Network reports that, in a recent article by Danny Shaw of the BBC (17 October 2011), figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 697 under 18s were detained between May and August 2011 at the Port of Dover and at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
The Children’s Society, which obtained the data, said it was “horrified” and called the numbers “excessive”. The BBC reported that, of those detained, more than a quarter were travelling alone.
In July of 2010, the government said it would end detention for the children of failed asylum seekers by May of this year. This is clearly not the case, as such detentions continue.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said: “We are horrified at the excessive numbers of children being held…
“We’re also concerned that detailed information isn’t being monitored centrally by the Home Office, including why they are being held, their age and critically the length of time that they were held.
“We are calling on the Home Office to launch an enquiry in to why excessive numbers of children are being held on the entry to the UK when this was clearly not intended to be the case.”
The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has expressed concerns about the practice.
The Independent Monitoring Board recently described some detention facilities at Heathrow as “degrading”.
Please sign this petition, which will automatically send an email to William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, and Damian Green, the UK Minister for Immigration, asking for them to keep their 2010 promise and immediately end to all child detention by the UKBA. The petition also calls for appropriate psychological support and assistance for all children and their parents seeking a safe country of settlement in the UK – not in the appalling conditions in detention centres, but integration into communities where they can recover from their ordeals and contribute to society in the way they wish and deserve