The Government has announced it will close Cedars, the controversial detention unit used to imprison children and families awaiting removal from the country.
Instead, children and families will be held at a ‘discrete unit’ at Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre.
Barnardo’s, the children’s charity who had been working with the Government to oversee the running of Cedars, has said it ‘cannot support the move’ as they don’t believe it’s in the best interests of children. As a result, Barnardo’s will not be working with families held at Tinsley House.
In 2010, the Coalition Government promised to end the detention of children for immigration purposes after overwhelming evidence demonstrated that it causes children physical and physiological harm.
Yet despite this promise, children are still being locked up. Last year 113 children were thrown behind bars. Two thirds of the children who left detention were released, rendering their detention not only harmful but futile.
Responding to the news, Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: “The Government’s current practice of detaining children – the majority of who are later released – is harmful, largely ineffective and inexcusable.
“The transfer of children and their families from Cedars to Tinsley House, a place even less equipped to care for them adequately, is a troubling retrograde step.
“Instead of looking for ways to save money at children’s expense, Ministers must urgently live up to the Government’s promise to end child detention once and for all. Children’s welfare must always come first, regardless of their immigration status.”