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Immigration: Detention

Volume 691: debated on Thursday 26 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the detention of children for the purpose of immigration control is compatible with children's right to liberty and the United Kingdom's international human rights obligations; and what action they propose to take to provide minimum safeguards to ensure that the rights of children are not infringed. [HL3307]

Children are detained under immigration Act powers in two limited circumstances: either as part of family groups whose detention is considered appropriate pending examination or removal or, very exceptionally, in the case of an unaccompanied child whilst alternative care arrangements are made, and normally then just overnight. Detention in these circumstances is in accordance with Article 5(1)(f) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The arrangements to safeguard the welfare of children we detain include the contractual requirements under which removal centres operate and are closely monitored; the professional advice of a seconded senior social worker; the regular review of the detention of each child, which seeks to identify and address any welfare concerns—and which can lead to their release in appropriate cases; the statutory scrutiny, which both HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Children's Commissioner provide; and the work of the independent monitoring boards—which have a statutory role to visit and report on the conditions for and treatment of immigration detainees.