Yesterday Immigration Minister Liam Byrne MP announced an overhaul of the Border and Immigration Agency’s policies concerning children, including a new statutory Code of Practice for dealing with children as it carries out immigration functions, alternatives to the detention of children, and family asylum policy.
He also announced that there will be no blanket implementation of Section 9, the policy that can result in support being removed from families, with the potential consequence that children are taken into care.
In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“Today’s announcement is very welcome news. The government has effectively admitted defeat on Section 9 – the policy wasn’t working and it was causing a lot of fear and misery. We would like to have seen Section 9 scrapped altogether, but having campaigned and lobbied for so long against the policy we are pleased that the minister has looked at the evidence and the arguments and taken action.
It is also good news that the government is looking at alternatives to the detention of children. We hope that it won’t be long before this practice – which has such a detrimental impact on vulnerable children – will be abandoned altogether.
“We need to study the detail, but the new statutory code of practice also looks like a welcome development. We have long argued that refugee children are children first and that their safety and well being should take priority over immigration enforcement. With that in mind, there is no reason why the Home Office should not be under the same statutory duty as other organisations.”