The number of children being detained has doubled since this time last year, according to Home Office figures published today, despite the government’s commitment to end the detention of children in May 2010. This included 37 children who were held in Cedars family detention unit in West Sussex over the last three months, which was set up as an ‘alternative’ to holding children in detention centres in August 2011.
In response, Judith Dennis, Policy Officer at the Refugee Council said:
“It is deeply worrying that a there has been a significant increase in the numbers of children in detention since last year. We know conditions in the Cedars family detention unit are much better than those at Yarl’s Wood, but this is not enough. We have consistently argued that children should not be detained as part of the asylum system. The government has acknowledged that detention is harmful to children by pledging to end the practice, so they must now urgently take action to fulfil their promise.”
The Home Office still does not publish the number of unaccompanied children who are detained wrongly as adults, as noted in a Refugee Council report Not a Minor Offence, published earlier this year.
In addition, the statistics show a marked increase in Syrian nationals applying for asylum in the UK – 611 people applied for asylum, compared to 133 people the previous year.
Judith Dennis added:
“We can see the situation in Syria is deteriorating by the day, so it is no surprise that there is an increase in asylum applications from Syrian people in the UK. These are people who are fleeing conflict and persecution by their own government and are seeking safety here. It is for people like them that the UKBA must ensure our asylum system is fair, humane and effective, so that they can get the protection they need.”
Key statistics include:
- 60 children were detained in last 3 months, compared to 26 this time last year.
- 37 children were held in Cedars family detention unit in last 3 months, compared to 11 in the first 3 months of the centre opening in August 2011.
- There were 19,959 asylum applications in the last 12 months, a rise of 6% from the previous year.
- Most applicants were from Iran. Applications from Syrian people rose to 611 in last 12 months, compared to 133 applications the year before.
- There were 16,729 initial decisions made on applications in last 12 months; 5,807 (35%) were granted asylum, discretionary leave or humanitarian protection, and 10,922 (65%) applications were refused.
- 27% of negative decisions appealed were overturned in the last 12 months