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Detainees: Children

Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions Ministers in his Department have signed authorisations for the continued detention of children at immigration removal centres beyond 28 days in each of the last five years. (290788)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: Local management information indicates that the following referrals for ministerial authorisation of the continued detention of a child under Immigration Act powers have been made in each of the last five statistical years. Figures for the current statistical year up to and including 4 September 2009 are also included. The information is shown in the following table.

Statistical year (year begins on the first of April)

Number of families referred to the Minister for authorisation of detention of children beyond 28 days

Number of children referred to the Minister for authorisation of detention beyond 28 days

2004-05

53

93

2005-06

71

138

2006-07

78

164

2007-08

120

201

2008-09

122

212

1 April to 4 September 2009

44

81

Total

488

889

Notes

1. The figures provided do not constitute part of National Statistics as they are based on local management information. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols and should be treated as provisional and subject to change.

2. Local management information does not identify the detention location of the child which may include immigration detention in a facility other than an immigration removal centre.

National Statistics on children detained solely under Immigration Act powers on a snapshot basis are published quarterly. The information is published in Tables 9-11 of the Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom bulletins which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which immigration removal centres operated by the UK Border Agency are equipped to accommodate children. (290789)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: There are three immigration removal centres in the UK that can accommodate families with children; Dungavel House, Tinsley House and Yarl's Wood. The first two centres routinely accommodate family groups for approximately 72 hours. Where detention is likely to extend beyond this timeframe, families are transferred to Yarl's Wood, which has the facilities to support longer periods of detention.

Full details about each centre and the facilities they provide are available on the UK Border Agency website:

www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/managingborders/immigrationremovalcentres

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) educational and (b) medical provision is made for children detained at immigration removal centres operated by the UK Border Agency. (290790)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: Provision of education and crèche facilities for children is focused at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre. The centre provides an Ofsted inspected crèche and school classrooms delivering 30 hours per week of tuition by qualified teachers for children aged five to 16 years. The teachers follow schemes of work that reflect the national curriculum key learning stages and include five hours of physical education. Children under school age have access to the crèche which is staffed seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm by appropriately qualified child care professionals.

All immigration removal centres provide free onsite primary health care to the same level of care as NHS general practices in the community. The health care centre at Yarl’s Wood is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by qualified medical staff who provide holistic care to meet the needs of individuals in accordance with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. Referrals to the local hospital for secondary care are made as medically required. In addition to this, the centre has dedicated services that are provided to specifically meet the needs of families and children. These include a paediatric nurse, health and midwife visitors, weight and immunisation clinics which are able to prescribe malarial prophylaxis for identified risk groups, access to children’s acute mental health services (CAMH) and counselling services.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to provide alternative accommodation for children detained at immigration removal centres operated by the UK Border Agency. (290791)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: Families with children are detained to effect their departure from this country when they have no legal right to remain here and refuse to leave voluntarily, even when offered assistance to do so. They are detained only as a last resort and for as short a time as possible.

We are committed to exploring alternative ways of ensuring that such families leave the country so as to reduce the number of children who need to be detained. Building on the experience of a project in Ashford, Kent in 2007, a new pilot is currently running in Glasgow which is a partnership between the UK Border Agency, Glasgow city council and the Scottish Government. The pilot can accommodate up to five families in designated flats, where they receive targeted help from social workers to prepare positive plans for a voluntary return to their home country.

The pilot is scheduled to run for three years and will be subject to independent evaluation.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children detained at immigration removal centres operated by the UK Border Agency have required medical attention (a) during and (b) after their period of detention in the last five years. (290792)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: The information requested is not yet collated centrally and could be provided only by checking each individual's medical file. Not only would this incur disproportionate cost, but the information would not be readily provided to the UK Border Agency as it is medically in confidence.

However, all detainees, including children, are seen within two hours of arrival in the centre by a nurse and an appointment made for them to see the GP within 24 hours unless a health-led assessment requires earlier attention. These and any subsequent consultations are recorded on the child's individual medical record.