This week I joined the leaders of 151 other organisations to call on the government to scrap plans to lock up refugee children as part of the Illegal Migration Bill.

You can read our open letter to the Prime Minister here.

Our letter highlights the government’s plans to lock up refugee children as one of the most extreme and cruel aspects of the Bill and states: “Most people would rightly be appalled by the idea of detaining thousands of children who arrive here in search of safety, having fled war zones and persecution. As a nation, we must stand firm in our commitment to uphold children’s rights and show care and compassion to any child in desperate need of protection.

“Today we stand together to call on your government to retain existing time limits which prevent the routine detention of refugee babies, toddlers and children.”

It also underlines concerns expressed by the medical community and says: “Before the coalition government ended the routine detention of children in the UK in 2011, medical experts found that almost all detained children suffered a significant deterioration in their mental and physical health as a direct result of their detention. Reported child mental health difficulties included emotional and psychological regression, post-traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression and suicidal behaviour.”

An impact assessment produced by one of our project partners, Refugee Council, found that the government’s plans to detain children could affect over 45,000 children in the first three years of the Bill coming into force, including nearly 15,000 children who have been separated from their parents and have come to the UK alone.

We cannot revert to a system that causes such damage to the mental and physical health of vulnerable children, who have already suffered so much.

Richard Hammond
The Separated Child Foundation

13 July 2023