The High Court has awarded a family, including a one-year-old baby and a child of eight, £150,000 damages after the Home Office accepted that it had unlawfully arrested and detained them.
On 9 February 2009, in the face of court proceedings brought by the family, the Home Office accepted that the family’s arrests and subsequent detentions were unlawful as they could not have been lawfully removed back to the Republic of Congo.
The family were asylum seekers at the time of their arrests but have since been given leave to stay in the UK.
The family, whose identity has been protected by a Court Order, were arrested and detained at Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre in Bedford on two occasions in July/August and September/October 2006. On the first occasion, they were detained for fifty-seven days. On both occasions their arrest followed much criticised ‘dawn raids’ in which large numbers of uniformed officers arrived to arrest the family at their then home in the West Midlands.
The children have suffered psychiatric damage as a result of their experience of the raids, arrests and subsequent detention. The younger child is reported to be suffering from an adjustment disorder and the older child has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
The children remained in detention despite the fact that Bedfordshire Social Services and a psychologist raised with the Home Office their concerns about the impact of detention on them.
Mark Scott, of the family’s solicitors, Bhatt Murphy, said that: ‘This case demonstrates not only the very damaging impact that detention has on children but the wholesale failure of the Home Office to comply with their own policy and the commitments given to Parliament that detention of children is only used as a measure of last resort and even then for the shortest possible time.’