Figures just released show that more than 1,300 children were held in immigration prisons around the country between July 2008 and September 2009, 328 being held in Tinsley House at Gatwick Airport between September 1 2008 and August 31 2009.* It was also revealed that between April 2004 and September 2009 a total of 889 children had been detained for more than 28 days, which can only be expressly ordered authorised by ministers.
The continued detention of children by the UK Borders Agency has been the subject of widespread condemnation, including the Children's Commissioner for England Alan Aynsley-Green, in a report entitled The Arrest and Detention of Children Subject to Immigration Control, and Refugee and Migrant Justice, formerly the Refugee Legal Centre, in the Does Every Child Matter? report. Yet, despite finally signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child last year, the UK continues this abhorrent practice.
In other news relating to the detention of children, Kent County Council has refused to comment on allegations that five staff have been suspended from Ashford’s Milbank Centre following allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour.’ The Millbank Centre, and a £1m pilot scheme run by Migrant Helpline to house families prior to deportation, was the focus of strong criticism from the Children's Society back in June.
* The figure for the staggered 15 month period include 884 children at Yarl's Wood, Bedford (July 2008 - July 2009) and Dungavel, Lanarkshire (October 2008 - mid September 2009).