“The child’s best interests are not a primary consideration in immigration decisions. Immigration control takes priority over human rights obligations to children seeking asylum and their families”

outcryReport from Child Abuse & Neglect 33 (2009) 573–585

a b s t r a c t

Objective: The present study aimed to assess the mental and physical health of children held within a British immigration detention center.
Method: A total of 24 detained children (aged 3 months to 17 years) were assessed with their parents or carer after being referred by a registered legal charity. Thirteen were seen by a pediatrician alone, 4 by a psychologist alone, and 7 by both professions using semi-structured clinical interviews. The psychologist also used standardized self-report questionnaires to measure psychopathology.
Results: During the psychological assessment of 11 children, 8 met criteria for psychiatric “caseness” on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. All 11 reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sleep problems, somatic complaints, poor appetite, emotional symptoms, and behavioral difficulties were common. Symptoms of global distress were also reported by all 9 parents. According to pediatric assessment 8 out of 20 children had lost weight. Six had missed health appointments and 2 were taken to hospital. Nutritional, developmental, educational, and child protection concerns were raised.
Conclusions: Detained children were found to be experiencing mental and physical health difficulties of recent onset, which appeared to be related to the detention experience. These findings support previous Australian studies demonstrating that detention is not in the best interest of the child. It suggests that current UK policies regarding the detention of children for purposes of immigration control should be re-examined. Further research in the area is required. Continue reading ““The child’s best interests are not a primary consideration in immigration decisions. Immigration control takes priority over human rights obligations to children seeking asylum and their families””

The Detention of Children in the Immigration System: First Report of Session 2009–10

parliament_logoHouse of Commons Home Affairs Committee: The Detention of Children in the Immigration System
First Report of Session 2009–10, Report, together with formal minutes Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 24 November 2009:


4. We were told that “nearly 1000 children a year remain in detention”,  and we have learned that at any one time up to 35 children are detained. However, Mr Wood explained that because of legal reviews and appeals of cases there is often a degree of “re-detention”— “there are duplicates in the sense of families detained twice”. We have been unable to discover how many individual families with children have been detained in the last year.
That such figures are not readily available is troubling. In future, Government statistics should be more informative and state how many separate individuals have been detained, not merely how many people have passed through detention. Continue reading “The Detention of Children in the Immigration System: First Report of Session 2009–10”

Minute from Meeting for Sufferings 5 December 2009

quaker_home_themeMeeting for Sufferings – December 2009
At a Meeting for Sufferings held in London 5 December

2009S/09/12/7: Minutes & Correspondence
i Area Meeting Minutes
a) Bristol AM: Colnbrook Detention Centre
Further to our minute S/09/04/8c), we return to minute 27/09 of Bristol Area Meeting held 19 February 2009 concerning Colnbrook Detention Centre (paper S/09/04/mc i b).

b) Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network
Sheila Mosley of Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network, has introduced the minutes from the QARN meeting held 17 October 2009 (paper S/09/12/ mc i b), and has summarised QARN’s views on the priorities for action especially on the detention of children and indefinite detention.

We would like to support greater awareness-raising among Friends about the issues facing asylum-seekers. QARN membership is open to all and they are willing to provide speakers for meetings. We are encouraged to take action individually and as meetings to give practical help to asylum-seekers and to support campaigns such as Outcry on their behalf. We would also like to make some kind of public statement on detention and ask the Recording Clerk to report on this to us early in 2010.


Events coming up

medical-justiceMotherland, with Juliet Stevenso:

Following sell-out performances at the Young Vic in London, the true acount of women and children detained in Yarl’s Wood comes to Bedford.
One evening only – 7.30pm Thursday January 14th 2010
The Civic Theater, 2 Horne Lane, Bedford, MK40 1RA. Map .
(10 minutes walk from Bedford station, 37 minutes by train from London St Pancras) Continue reading “Events coming up”

Refugee Council Campaigns: End of year round-up

refugee-councilThis year has seen some important progress in our work to improve refugees’ lives and challenge injustice. You can read more about this year in our recent Impact Report.

But too many refugees and asylum seekers continue to face a daily struggle for survival and justice in the UK, with recent changes in asylum support and to the asylum process.

We’re preparing for 2010 and look forward to working with you to campaign for positive change. Continue reading “Refugee Council Campaigns: End of year round-up”

Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre

yarls-wood-001Six miles north of Bedford on a desolate hill-top, Yarl’s Wood IRC is purpose built, by the same architects as Harmondsworth and to a similar pattern. It was originally designed for 900 beds as “the biggest immigration detention centre in Europe” but before it could be completed was destroyed, only three months after opening, in a night of riot and fire lead, probably, by exasperated people who had served prison terms for criminal activities, and then, instead of being released or promptly deported, found themselves indefinitely further detained awaiting deportation. Continue reading “Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre”

Report on an unannounced short followup inspection of Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre 13–15 July 2009 by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

hm-inspector-of-prisonstinsley-houseTinsley House immigration removal centre at Gatwick airport, run by G4S, holds men, women and children, most of whom are awaiting removal. When we last visited, we expressed serious concerns at the plight of the small number of children and women held in this largely male establishment. On our return for this unannounced follow-up inspection, conditions had generally deteriorated and the arrangements for children and single women were now wholly unacceptable.
Since our last visit, Tinsley House had effectively become a satellite of its newly opened neighbour, Brook House. This much larger and more secure removal centre, also run by G4S, provided a single management team for both sites. Managers at Brook House had faced a range of teething problems, which appeared to have been the focus of most of their attention. The consequence, pointed out to us by staff and detainees at Tinsley House, was that services and provision there had suffered, and a more restrictive approach had been introduced. Our previous suggestion that the opening of Brook House might allow Tinsley House to be  refurbished to hold only families and single women had been ignored and, instead, already inadequate provision for these most vulnerable detainees had declined further. Continue reading “Report on an unannounced short followup inspection of Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre 13–15 July 2009 by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Report into Tinsley House, Section 3: Summary of recommendations

hm-inspector-of-prisonstinsley-houseThe following is a list of both repeated and further recommendations included in this report. The reference numbers in brackets refer to the paragraph location in the main report.

Main recommendations (from the previous report)
To the centre manager
3.1 If children are to remain at Tinsley House, their detention should be exceptional and only for a few days. (2.1)
3.2 If single women are to remain at Tinsley House, their distinct needs should be systematically identified and met. (2.2)
3.3 If children are to remain at Tinsley House, a qualified teacher should be employed to provide structured and planned education to meet the needs of school-age children. (2.7)
3.4 The centre should provide a welfare officer or team to help detainees prepare for their discharge. (2.8)
Recommendations To the chief executive, UKBA
3.5 Detainees should not be subjected to frequent, unexplained and disorienting transfers around the detention estate. (2.11)
3.6 Reviews of detention should be issued in good time, in a language the detainee can understand, and should reflect balanced consideration of all factors relevant to continuing detention. (2.13)
3.7 On-site staff should regularly review case files and flag up concerns to case holders. (2.14)
3.8 UKBA case owners should consider and respond promptly and fully to detainee applications for temporary release. (2.15)
3.9 Detainees should have sufficient time to confer with representatives before hearings that use the video link facility. (2.16)
3.10 In consultation with the centre, UKBA should ensure that all detainees receive a copy of the bail summary in due time before the hearing, and the on-site immigration team should monitor the receipt of bail summaries. (2.18)
3.11 Detainees who clearly demonstrate a health need should have a care plan. The nurse on duty should see the patient each shift and, if necessary, update the care plan. (2.21)
3.12 The practice of taking additional detainees as reserves to the airport as part of charter flight removals should cease. (2.38) Continue reading “Report into Tinsley House, Section 3: Summary of recommendations”

Promises, promises: Tinsley House children detained by the immigration authorities

bbcmarkeastonBreaking a promise to a child is a pretty mean thing to do. But it appears that the British government is struggling to keep the promises it has repeatedly made to children detained by the immigration authorities.

When inspectors paid a surprise visit to a removal centre near Gatwick in October, they found conditions had actually got worse since they last inspected the facility. Today, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Ann Owers, described the arrangements for children at Tinsley House as “wholly unacceptable”.


Continue reading “Promises, promises: Tinsley House children detained by the immigration authorities”

Search for girl called off as she has been found – Audrey Kessie Nyanor



An 18-month old girl who police mistakenly allowed to be taken by an impostor from a station has been found.

Audrey Kessie Nyanor’s mother, Cynthia Boakye, 36, was arrested on Thursday in Southwark, south London, over alleged immigration offences.

A woman claiming she was a friend of Ms Boakye went to Walworth police station and took the toddler.

The child was found in Harlesden, north London. A woman, 31, has been arrested on suspicion of abduction.

A Met spokesman said officers were called at 1400 GMT by a member of the public and that the toddler and the 31-year-old woman were found 55 minutes later on Harlesden High Street.

The woman remains in police custody at a west London police station.

Another six people were arrested during the investigation. One has been released and the other five are bailed to return to south London police stations in February next year. Continue reading “Search for girl called off as she has been found – Audrey Kessie Nyanor”