Every year, around 2,000 children pass through the UK’s immigration detention centres. They are there because their parents have applied for asylum in the UK. Detention is physically and emotionally damaging for children, as the detainees' testimonies so painfully demonstrate. In many cases, children have lived for most of their lives in Britain, and consider this country their home. Many subsequently receive refugee status, but children who have been detained remain deeply traumatised by their experiences.
We are also calling for key improvements to the system while the detention of children continues:
- Better independent oversight of the system
- Accurate records to be kept of all children in the immigration detention system: who are they, where are they, how old are they and how long have they been held?
- Welfare assessments to be made of all children on entry into detention
- Reasons for detention and reviews to be given to parents in their own languages
Over the coming weeks the New Statesman will report on children in immigration detention: the policies, the human stories, and possible alternative approaches. We hope that readers will get involved by signing a petition, launched later in September, and by supporting the campaign’s backers Women for Refugee Women, The Children's Society, Bail for Immigration Detainees (Bid) and 11 Million.
Together with our readers, the New Statesman hopes to send the government a clear message: the UK’s policy of incarcerating innocent minors must stop. Immigration detention centres are no place for children.