Thursday, 14 January 2010

Child imprisonment: Mr. Lansley's reply

On 19 December 2009, some of the Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Criminology sent a letter to Mr. Lansley, MP for Cambridgeshire South whose constituency contains the Oakington immigration removal centre asking him to lobby the Government and his party to combat the rising numbers of young people being detained for immigration purposes, and to reduce the number of young people being imprisoned for criminal matters following the recent publication of research into the serious mental and physical health damages to children in prison, as reported in the most recent edition of Child Abuse and Neglect: the International Journal. Below is Mr. Lansley's reply:

"Dear Ms. Armstrong and Mr. Phillips,

Thank you for contacting me about the detention of migrant children.

I understand your concerns about the care of migrant children. This issue is incredibly difficult and emotive, and I appreciate your considered views on this. I know from those who have visited detention centres that it can be very uncomfortable seeing children behind bars.

Unfortunately up until very recently the Government said that it did not hold central data on the numbers of migrant children held in detention. However, my colleague, the Shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green MP, has been successful in pushing the Government to collect data on the detention of children under the Immigration Act, and this has recently been published for the first time. The figures revealed that 470 minors were being detained with their families in June, with most being under five years of age. The provision of this essential statistical information will enable all those with an interest to monitor how effective Government policy is in this area.

Conservatives are looking at effective alternatives to detention for children, and we are very disappointed that the Government has been so half-hearted in pursuing this. It would be better and cheaper if we didn’t have to lock up children for weeks, and sadly, sometimes months. Other countries seem to have effective alternatives to detention and I know that Damian Green regularly meets with children’s charities to explore other approaches.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Andrew Lansley"


Jake Phillips said...

He doesn't really commit to much does he? It's all very well saying, imprisoning children is bad but he doesn't say how the Conservatives will prevent this. His statement that "It would be better and cheaper if we didn’t have to lock up children for weeks, and sadly, sometimes months" seems to imply to me that the main problem is the length of time it takes to process asylum applications rather than the fact that they are locked up during the process- it looks like more of a call for expediency rather than humanity.

anton said...

what a disgrace!

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