Damian Green, Minister for Immigration explained to the Home Affairs Select Committee,
“[CITIZENS UK] said that last year they had sent Father Christmas to parade outside Yarl’s Wood to make the point that there were children in there. I made the possibly rash commitment that if anyone had to do it this year I would dress up as Father Christmas... I am confident that we will have this sorted well before Christmas.”
“We have already stopped overnight detention of children at one of the two places where it happened...Dungavel in Scotland. The numbers at Yarl’s Wood are markedly down. I believe that...as of yesterday there were no children in detention.”On 22nd July Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that the family unit at Yarl's Wood Detention Centre would close, confirming Damian Green's commitment that there would be no children in detention by Christmas.
Nick Clegg and David Cameron committed to ending the detention of children at the CITIZENS UK Assembly on May 3rd.
Since the election, CITIZENS UK has played a key role in the working group coordinated by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to help implement the commitment in the coalition agreement to "end the detention of children for immigration purposes" and advise on alternatives to child detention.
The statements conclude the review that was set up by the government to make good on its May 3rd commitment.
Neil Jameson, Executive Director of CITIZENS UK said:
“This is a victory for civil society and democracy – proving that ordinary citizens working together can persuade the government to make its policies more decent and humane at a national level. We are one step closer to ending the shame of locking up innocent children."We recognise that the government needs to be able to find safe and sustainable ways of removing families who have had a fair hearing and do not have protection needs. There are no easy answers here, and we need to draw on expertise and experience from civil society help solve this problem. That is why we are putting together a Taskforce to advise the government on appropriate alternatives to the detention of families that ensure that the welfare of children is paramount.”
Note: Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record of the Home Affairs Select Committee Meeting. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.