Attempts by the Home Office to deport families by detaining them in dawn raids are harmful to children – as well as being largely ineffective, the prisons watchdog has warned.
The chief inspector of prisons said he was “troubled” by a recent inspection into the practice, which observed children being woken early in the morning by arrest teams and escorted on long journeys before being detained with their “often very distressed” parents.
Some were forced to go through the “traumatic process” of witnessing parents being restrained, contributing to the “considerable human impact” the removal process had on children, inspectors found.
The report by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, which looked at the care of families held at immigration facilities near Gatwick, found that as well as being harmful for children, detaining families was “costly” and “often ineffective”, with 80 per cent of detainees released back into the community within three days.
Campaigners said the practice of detaining families with no likely chance of removing them fed into Theresa May’s hostile environment, and amounted to a “brutal and unnecessary” tactic with the aim of trying to drive down immigration.
The report looked at two new family detention facilities which opened at Tinsley House in June 2017, replacing the Cedars pre departure accommodation which had been used for families arrested at the border and who needed overnight accommodation before a return flight.
In the 11 months since the new facility opened, 19 families have been detained in the pre departure accommodation, with only four of them eventually removed.
Inspectors observed the arrest of two families, both of which involved more than eight people in uniforms and wearing stab vests and heavy boots, entering a family’s home early in the morning.
During the first arrest – of a father, mother, eight-year old boy, five-year old girl and 15-month old baby boy – staff were unsuccessful in efforts to find an interpreter and used telephone interpretation instead, which made communication difficult.
The parents were arrested and asked to get themselves and their children dressed while a large number of officers were in the flat, with one telling them: “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” Read on https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/deport-families-remove-detain-children-home-office-inspectors-report-tinsley-house-gatwick-a8513341.html