Yesterday – Nick Clegg announced the ending of child detention for immigration purposes.
No child will ever be locked up in Yarl’s Wood again. No child is currently detained, and no child will spend this Christmas in an immigration detention centre. In an open letter to Gordon Brown in 2009, Nick Clegg wrote: “One of the best ways to judge the moral compass of a nation is how we treat children … How on earth can your government justify what is in effect state-sponsored cruelty?”
I am very proud that this government has ended this disgraceful practise.
Along with the ending of child detention for immigration purposes, the government has also announced the reform of our immigration system to make it more family friendly – creating a system that is humane, fair and effective. From March 2011 specially appointed family case workers will now work with families throughout the decision making process.
Once a family’s appeals have been exhausted they will be offered the following return options, in descending order: family conferences to discuss their return home, welfare and medical concerns; assisted return to help the family feel supported throughout their departure, with reintegration assistance to help them resettle upon their return; required returns for families who fail to take up the assisted return through the AVR programme, allowing them to remain in the community, but giving two weeks notice to board their flight home; and finally ensured return, as a last resort, if they fail to depart the UK.
This new process is one which operates end-to-end through the immigration system – a radical improvement in the way we work with families from the first time we come into contact with them through their immigration decision and where necessary their return to their home country. Working with families will be key to the success of the new process – family conferences will ensure everyone understands the process, assistance will be offered to families and the benefits clearly explained, with additional assistance to the family when back in their home country if required.
There are always going to be those who try to frustrate the process and refuse to comply with requests to leave. The creation of the independent family returns panel will mean independent provide oversight of when a family is deemed to have exhausted all options and recommend a tailored returns plan. Our aim is to support families throughout this process, helping them remain in the community for as long as possible, but to ensure families work with us on leaving the country when their right to remain in the UK has been exhausted.
(In Labour’s last 5 years in office alone the Government locked up 7075 kids, that’s an average of almost 4 children a day locked up by Labour. · Between 2005 and 2010, 7075 children were locked up for an average of just under 2 weeks each (12.74 days) · Last year alone 1065 children were locked up by Labour, 173 of whom were locked up for more than a month. )