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UK immigration system and childrens welfare

The welfare of children in Britain's immigration system is a top priority, according to new UK Border Agency guidelines introduced on 6 January 2009.

The new code of practice deals with how youngsters should be treated during any stay in detention or while being transferred into local authority care. UKBA will then be in line with other Government organisations that take care of children.

The UKBA intends to take its commitment to safeguard children from harm even further, by introducing a Duty regarding the welfare of children into the new Border, Citizenship and Immigration Bill.

The Code of Practice, among other things, states the following:

  • fair treatment which meets the same standard a British child would receive;
  • the child's interests being made a primary, although not the only, consideration;
  • no discrimination of any kind;
  • having their asylum applications dealt with in a timely fashion;
  • and identifying those that might be at risk from harm;

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:

"Treating children with care and compassion is a number one priority for the UK Border Agency. These new guidelines will reiterate that."

"It is right that the UK Border Agency is judged by the same standards as every other authority that deals with children. These rules bring together for the first time a common set of values all staff must abide by."

"No one wants to detain children and it only happens as a last resort, often because their parents seek to frustrate removal. In these difficult circumstances, we will treat children with the utmost sensitivity."

The UKBA says that the vast majority of children are detained for less than a week, and during that stay they are committed to treating them fairly and with compassion.