Immigration Detention: Victims of Modern Slavery

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 1:59 pm, 17th July 2019

The UK ended the routine detention of children in immigration removal centres in 2010 and enshrined that in law under the Immigration Act 2014. It is worth noting that, in the last year of the previous Labour Government, 1,100 children were held in detention. However, in some cases, individuals without documentary evidence of their age who are detained as adults subsequently claim to be children. When that occurs, our revised interim policy states that they will be afforded the benefit of the doubt and released into the care of social services until a further assessment of their age has been made, unless their physical appearance and demeanour very strongly suggest that they are over 25 years of age. Home Office policy means that such cases may be counted as under-18s for the purposes of data collection, but the hon. Lady is right that we should not be detaining children, and we have put in place steps that will prevent that from happening. Where there is an age-dispute case, the benefit of the doubt will always be afforded to the individual.