Church leaders call for end to immigration detention of children
"SIR – We are writing to express our grave concern at the findings of Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the Children’s Commissioner, on children detained at Yarl’s Wood (report, February 17).
We note that the Children’s Commissioner, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Children’s Society and many other bodies concerned with the wellbeing of children all support an end to child detention because of the appalling effects on children. These include insomnia, bed wetting, weight loss, speech regression, depression and self-harm.
Our faith calls us to look particularly to the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. We therefore urge the Prime Minister to bring Britain in line with other Commonwealth and EU countries, which provide less harmful community-based facilities for families awaiting a decision about their future.
The Most Rev Barry Morgan
Archbishop of Wales
The Rt Rev John Packer
Bishop of Ripon and Leeds
Rev David Gamble
President of the Methodist Conference
The Rt Rev Bill Hewitt
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The Rt Rev Patrick Lynch
Chairman, Office for Migration Policy, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Rev Inderjit S. Bhogal
Former President of the Methodist Conference
General Director, Evangelical Alliance
Lt-Col Marion Drew
Secretary for Communications, The Salvation Army
Rev Jonathan Edwards
General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
Rev Peter Macdonald
Leader, The Iona Community
Rev John Marsh
Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
Clerk, Meeting for Sufferings, The Religious Society of Friends
Moderator, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Doctors demand an end to child detention
The administrative detention of children is damaging to them, cannot be made otherwise, and is unacceptable in a civilised society. We call for the immediate cessation of this practice which is demonstrably and permanently harmful to children’s health, both in the short and long term.
We call upon the government to end the immigration detention of children and families.
Until that happens urgent steps are needed to minimise avoidable harms to children. These are as follows:
Children and young people in immigration detention should be recognised as Children in Need and given the same safeguards, such as an Initial Assessment completed within 7 days.
Primary and secondary medical care to CYP and their families should be adequately resourced and provided on the same in-reach basis as for the prison service.
GPs in the community and doctors in secondary care should consider the damaging effects of detention on children and young people and wherever necessary make representations to the immigration services to prevent children with health problems from being detained
GPs providing care for children in IRCs should be especially mindful of the damaging effects of detention on them, and intervene in a timely way to protect their health and well being, including recommending release of any child at risk of further harm. We call upon the GMC and the medical profession as a whole to support doctors who may have to defend themselves for carrying out their duties toward these children.