Airports: Heathrow

House of Lords written question – answered on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of The Earl of Listowel The Earl of Listowel Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What their plans are to decrease the waiting time for access to social services by unaccompanied children in short-term holding facilities at Heathrow Airport.

Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Security and Counter-terrorism)

The UK Border Agency deals with unaccompanied children seeking admission to the UK as a priority to ensure their safety and welfare. This includes early referral to other agencies where required.

At Heathrow, unaccompanied children are not held in any of the short-term holding facilities as stated. It is UK Border Agency policy only to detain unaccompanied children in the most exceptional circumstances and with appropriate care while alternative arrangements for their safety and welfare are made.

At Terminals 1, 2 and 3, there are child-friendly facilities in place and proposed plans to implement such facilities at other Heathrow locations. These provide a safe and comfortable environment in which children are supervised by a responsible adult until they are transferred into the custody of a suitable sponsor or local authority.

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