New publication criticises the detention of migrant families

New publication criticises the detention of migrant families


Written by: Kevin Smith

A new publication from the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) criticises the UK government’s policy of detaining migrant families and examines the negative impacts it has on children.

‘Obstacles to accountability: challenging the immigration detention of families’ is based on BID’s experience of providing free advice and assistance to families with children in detention since 2001. The handbook demonstrates that children in detention do not receive meaningful protection under the Children Acts and highlights how previous government policy has created a separate and inherently unequal system for children in immigration detention, while maintaining a façade of access and equality.

BID’s handbook shows how children are being damaged by immigration detention because:

  • No special consideration is given to the needs or best interests of children when deciding to detain a family;
  • Detention is not clearly justified in each case, and existing alternatives to detention are not fully considered;
  • Families and children do not fully understand why they are detained, have no automatic legal representation and their detention is not subject to a time-limit or independent review;
  • Processes for welfare assessments of families and ministerial authorisation for detention beyond 28 days do not protect children from prolonged and harmful detention.

The report concludes that while families continue to be detained by immigration services, ‘urgent changes are needed to safeguard children against the worst excesses of current detention policy and practice’.

Related links

The report can be downloaded for free from BID’s website.

To order free hard copies of the report, email

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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