Groups of actors and authors have written open letters to the Guardian expressing their concerns for the issues raised in the children's comissioner's report.
Actors & Authors letter to the Guardian against detention of children
We are alarmed by the children's commissioner's latest revelations about children's suffering by arrest and incarceration at Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre (Yarl's Wood children face 'extreme distress', 17 February). Disturbing cases unearthed by Sir Al Aynsley Green – reports of children forcibly separated from their parents, delays in treating a child suffering from a fracture – reflect the disregard for children's welfare that underpins the very existence of the government's detention policy.
There is no need to detain families with children. As UK Border Agency executive Dave Wood let slip last year in evidence to a parliamentary committee, the detention policy's true purpose is deterrence: "Whilst issues are raised about absconding, that is not our biggest issue. It does happen but it is not terribly easy for a family unit to abscond."
Along with hundreds of doctors who have called upon the government to stop detaining children, we believe the administrative detention of children is simply too harmful to be accepted in a civilised society. We join thousands of fellow citizens calling upon Gordon Brown to End Child Detention Now: petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoChildDetention/
Sir Nicholas Hytner, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Joanna Lumley, Juliet Stevenson, Miriam Margolyes, Lenny Henry, Terry Jones, Tindy Agaba MA Law student, former child refugee, Anthony Browne Children's laureate 2009-11, Carol Ann Duffy Poet laureate, Michael Rosen Children's laureate 2007-09, Jacqueline Wilson Children's laureate 2005-07 Michael Morpurgo Children's laureate 2003-05, Anne Fine Children's laureate 2001-03, Quentin Blake Children's laureate 1999-2001, Philip Pullman, Sandi Toksvig, Nick Hornby, Michael Bond, Benjamin Zephaniah, Roger McGough, Matthew Bourne, Kamila Shamsie, Michelle Magorian, Beverley Naidoo, Lynne Reid Banks, Esther Freud, Henry Porter, Livia Firth, Natasha Walter, Emma Freud, Melly Still, Jamila Gavin, Mariella Frostrup, Anna Home, Vicky Ireland, David Wood.
Jewish community leaders letter in the Guardian
How many more appalling medical reports about the psychological damage to children in detention must we read before the Border Agency puts an end to this shameful and inhumane practice?
Which one of us would not be horrified if it was our child who had seen her mother and father arrested at dawn by police, been separated from both parents for many hours, taken in a car by uniformed men to a building surrounded by barbed wire, and locked up? And that's without even considering what traumas this child may have already experienced before coming to the UK.
As a community with a history of being refugees to Britain, we feel the plight of these families intensely. Other countries manage their asylum controls through community-based arrangements for children. For a civilised country and a modern state in 2010 to be treating children in such a cruel and cavalier way is simply unspeakable. It seems Every Child Matters – except the most vulnerable.
Dr Edie Friedman Director, Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Hannah Weisfeld Chair, Jewish Social Action Forum, Rabbi Alexandra Wright Senior rabbi, Liberal Jewish synagogue, Sarah Kaiser Director, CCJO RenéCassin, Rabbi Jeremy Gordon New London Synagogue, Rabbi Mark Goldsmith North Western Reform Synagogue.
Take action now to end child detention by visiting http://sanctuarypledge.org.uk/