New government stats show children still being detained: our response - Refugee Council
May 24, 2012

New government stats show children still being detained: our response

In response to the asylum and immigration statistics published by the Home Office today, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“It is very disappointing that children are still being detained, despite the government’s pledge two years ago that they would stop this abhorrent practice.

While we welcome the improved conditions for children who are detained with their families, we still strongly believe children who have sought safety here should not be detained at all.

“Moveover, the statistics do not include the significant number of children who are also being wrongly detained as adults. As shown in our report published this week, the mental and physical health of children who are wrongly treated as adults and locked up can be severely damaged.

The government must urgently put measures in place to ensure children are not held in detention just for the UKBA’s administrative convenience.”

The Home Office statistics for Jan-Mar 2012 show that in the first three months of 2012:

  • 53 children were detained, and 7 are currently being held
  • There were 4,518 asylum applications, 1% less than this time last year
  • 4,496 initial decisions in asylum applications, 65% were refusals

The statistics also show in 2011, there were 1277 applications from unaccompanied children, and an additional 354 young asylum applicants had their ages disputed. But the UKBA does not publish figures for those who are treated as adults based on their appearance, and who are not sent for an age assessment—they are therefore detained as adults and included in adult detention figures.

The Refugee Council works with children who have been wrongly detained as adults, to release them from detention centres. Last year, 22 were released from detention, after being found to be children.

The Refugee Council’s report, Not a Minor Offence, published on Monday this week, details the reasons children are often wrongly treated as adults, the impact being detained has on the young people the charity works with, and recommendations for the government to safeguard children in this situation.