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Children's Commissioner's statement on the alternatives to detaining children for immigration purposes

2 July 2010

All four Children's Commissioners in the UK submitted a joint response to the government's consultation on ending child detention for immigration purposes on Thursday 1 July.

The Children's Commissioner for England also has a UK wide remit regarding asylum policy.

Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner, said: "I understand that the welfare of children in the asylum and immigration systems presents significant challenges. I was one of the first to welcome this government's commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. There now needs to be an ongoing dialogue between the government, through UKBA, and stakeholders with a concern for this area of policy beyond the formal end of the review on the alternatives to detention.

"As a previous report from my office has stated, the starting point for any alternative should be developing 'community-based alternatives to detention, which ensure that children's needs are met, and their rights not breached, during the process of removal.' My joint response with the other UK Children's Commissioners proposed some practical principles that should underpin any alternatives to detention. We have also highlighted aspects of systems used in other countries that could be helpfully adapted for use in the UK.

"We welcome the review's terms of reference which looks beyond the point of detention. In doing so, I urge the government to look at the whole process to ensure a fair system is in place. Part of which is making sure families receive good legal representation rather than rely on a postcode lottery. We would like to see a system where families are supported throughout the immigration process by a case worker who can guide them through their options."