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Immigrants: Detainees

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions children detained at immigration removal centres have been held separately from their parents for a period of more than (a) 12 and (b) 24 hours in the latest period for which figures are available. (322797)

[holding answer 18 March 2010]: There has been one occasion when a child was held separately from its parent for more than 12 hours. This was when a single parent needed to attend hospital for treatment. During this time, the child was looked after by social services professionals.

There have been no occasions when a child was held separately from its parent for more than 24 hours.

These data are taken from local management information for the period October 2009 to the present date. They have not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols and are therefore subject to change and should be treated as provisional.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what independent checks there are on the welfare of children detained at immigration removal centres. (322798)

[holding answer 18 March 2010]: The UK Border Agency takes the health and emotional wellbeing of those in its care very seriously. This is particularly true of children who are regrettably detained—with their parents—pending their removal after they refuse to leave the UK voluntarily. We introduced a new duty in November 2009 contained in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, which requires the agency to protect and promote the welfare of children. The Office of the Children’s Champion, which includes professional advisers, is responsible for challenging the agency to ensure it meets its obligations, and they provide constant advice and support to those responsible for detention and escorting matters.

Children can only be held in three immigration removal centres. Tinsley house currently holds families for 24 hours and Dungavel house for up to three days.

Those families who will be held for longer periods are taken to Yarl’s Wood, as are those families in Scotland whose flights are departing from London.

Prior to detention, the agency conducts a formal assessment of each child to identify any particular medical; safeguarding or welfare needs in order to make the necessary arrangements to support them while in detention. On site independent social workers contribute to this initial assessment.

Once in detention the social workers continue to make regular weekly welfare checks on each individual child throughout the entire period of detention. In addition to these regular welfare checks, the independent social workers carry out a formal welfare needs assessment between 14-21 days of detention for any child whose detention extends beyond 28 days. A copy of the completed assessment is submitted to the head of Bedford Children’s Services; thereby ensuring independent oversight is maintained for the welfare assessments of children held in detention.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance is available for individuals detained at UK Border Agency immigration removal centres who are suspected to be at risk of suicide. (322799)

[holding answer 18 March 2010]: A comprehensive self-harm reduction strategy is in place at Immigration Removal Centres to support detainees who are deemed to be at risk of suicide or self-harm. Our procedures, called Assessment Care in Detention and Teamwork (ACDT), provide an holistic approach to suicide and self harm prevention within the broader context of decency, safety, and the concept of a healthy centre. It also brings existing policy in line with similar changes implemented by the Ministry of Justice.

The ACDT process starts as soon as an individual has been identified as being at risk. It involves an initial risk assessment and assessment interview conducted by specially trained individuals. A specific care map tailored to the issues faced by the individual is produced to ensure provision of multi-disciplinary support, including input from both health care professionals and staff at the centre. The ACDT document is reviewed at regular intervals to ensure the correct support is provided while the individual is thought to be at risk.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are made in respect of the (a) personal possessions, (b) vehicles and (c) bank accounts of detainees following (i) detention at an immigration removal centre and (ii) deportation. (322800)

[holding answer 18 March 2010]: All immigration removal centres offer welfare services which are delivered by a mixture of dedicated teams and individual members of staff.

Staff help detainees to make preparations for their departure from the United Kingdom, including providing advice about how to tie up their affairs before their departure. They cannot, however, make such arrangements such as shipping property home.

Detainees are required to limit their property in Immigration Removal Centres to 20 kilograms as this is the restriction placed upon them by airlines.