Continuous child detention in UK

Category: Refugee and asylum seeking children

1st October 2013

Recent figures published by the UK Home Office suggest that children in the decision and removal phase of the asylum process are increasingly being detained in the UK.

The recent figures demonstrate that the number of detained immigrant children almost doubled from 127 in 2011 to 242 in 2012. A total of 444 children have been detained since 2010 despite several government statements this year proclaiming that child detention was no longer a reality in the UK.

Child detention mainly occurs in immigration removal centres for adults. After the release of the statistics a Home Office Spokesperson stressed that the Government safeguards child welfare and therefore has met its promise of ending child detention.

Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England, said: "These figures suggest the needless detention of children within the immigration system continues, despite the Government's commitment to end it."

Scottish Context
The Scottish Government has made a commitment not to allow children to be detained in Scotland and has outlined progress to date in this area in the Do the Right Thing progress report (2012) (page 54).

This is in response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's recommendation to 'develop a broad range of alternative measures to detention for children in conflict with the law; and establish the principle that detention should be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period of time as a statutory principle.'

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