New government statistics released today show that the number of children detained for immigration purposes has risen.
During the last three months of 2005, 540 minors were released from detention centres – an increase of 19% on the previous quarter. Of these, almost 1 in 3 (29%) had been in detention for more than a week, with 25 children being held for between one and two months.
Speaking today, the joint leaders of the No Place for a Child campaign called for an end to the detention of children.
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children said:
“The government has said that detention affects only a small number of families. These figures show that to be far from true. 540 children were affected in the last three months of 2005 by the traumatic experience of being locked up in detention centres, in many cases for long periods of time.”
Sarah Cutler, assistant director from BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) said:
“Government policy is that detention of children should occur only where necessary and for as short a time as possible. Yet 25 children, 5% of the total, were detained for over a month.”
Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of Refugee Council said:
“We say that detention is no place for any child; that one child locked up is one too many. There are better alternatives that would put children’s rights first, and cost the taxpayer less. We are calling on the new Home Secretary, John Reid, to consider these alternatives.
The numbers of people applying for asylum continue to fall year on year – we can treat these families with dignity rather than locking them up like criminals.”
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Notes to Editors:
1. Figures released today are based on the last 3 months of 2005. Of the 540 minors recorded as leaving detention (excluding Oakington) during the 4th quarter of 2005, a rise of 19% from Q3 2005, 465 (86%) were asylum detainees. 385 (71%) of all minors had been in detention for 7 days or less, 60 (11%) for 8-14 days, 70 (13%) for 15-29 days.
2. Figures can be found on the Home Office website.