UKBA’s update on ending the detention of children
The UK Border Agency has written an update today on action taken since December 2010 in their commitment to end child detention.
On December 16th, the Government announced the findings from their review into the detention of children. They have made a number of changes following these findings. One of these changes is a new family returns process. As of today, 1st March, the UKBA are launching this process nationally.
The UKBA have issued further guidance to Asylum Caseowners on how to process family cases right from the point they claim asylum, as well as guidance on dealing with families who didn’t participate in the pilots with instructions on how to take these cases forward under the new process. Over 100 UKBA staff have received training to become specialist family caseworkers.
The Family Key Worker Pilot is a project that the UKBA are working with Refugee Action on that aims to test the impact of increased asylum seeker trust and understanding of the asylum process in the outcomes of claims, including take-up of voluntary returns. To date 30 families have received key worker support from Refugee Action staff.
The Early Legal Advice Project aims to get more cases right first time by ensuring decision makers have all the evidence available at the decision making stage. The evaluation of the project will look at whether the access to early legal advice has an impact on better decision-making, and trust in the asylum system for all asylum seekers, including families.
‘Pre-Departure Accommodation’ will be used for families where other ensured return options have failed. These centres will be secure. The UKBA say this centre will respect family privacy and independence, and allow children and families to have opportunity to leave the premises – subject to a risk and safeguarding assessment and suitable supervision arrangements. Read an article by the Independent which outlines concerns about whether these centres are simply detention centres under a different name.
Re-entry Ban. Instead of the current 5 year ban on individuals voluntarily leaving the UK, there will be a two year ban on re-entry if people leave within 6 months of the conclusion of any appeal. The existing 5 year ban will continue if people stay here longer than 6 months after their appeal has been exhausted.
See the Home Office’s monthly statistics on children entering detention.
Read the Refugee Children’s Consortium’s (of which Welsh Refugee Council is a member), briefing on Alternatives to Detention which was produced in June 2010 in light of the government’s policy review and which argues that ‘ending the detention of children is not dependent on establishing “alternatives to detention” projects, or new processes for families’.
Policy briefing paper on Employment & Enterprise Feb 2011
Read WRC briefing paper on employment and enterprise setting out recommendations for policy makers.