Immigrants: Detainees

Home Office written question – answered on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many children have been held in immigration detention since September 2018; and what steps his Department is taking to establish alternatives to detention for children at risk of being detained in exceptional circumstances.

Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment his Department has made of the equity of the treatment of children in refugee detention centres.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration

Home Office statistics on the number of children held in immigration detention since September 2018 have not yet been published. The next publication: Immigration Statistics, year ending December 2018 will be released on 29 February 2019 at:

Information on children in detention broken down by quarter, is available in the detention tables in the latest release of ‘Immigration Statistics, year ending September 2018’, available from the Home Office website at:

The UK does not operate refugee detention centres and ended the routine detention of children in 2010 and, in line with the Immigration Act 2014, does not hold unaccompanied children in immigration removal centres. There remain limited circumstances where unaccompanied children may be detained for a short period, usually at ports of entry. This will be done for safeguarding reasons and will be for a very brief period, normally just a matter of hours, until alternative care arrangements are made. Families with children intercepted at the border may also be detained very briefly, but the Home Office does not publish data on children detained at the border.

Under the Family Returns Process, which was established in 2011 as an alternative to routine detention in immigration removal centres, a family with children with no lawful basis of stay in the UK who fails to comply with Home Office attempts to encourage and support voluntary return may, as a last resort, be detained at dedicated Pre Departure Accommodation (PDA), for a short period immediately prior to removal. The operation of the PDA is regulated by the published PDA Operating Standards. Treatment of children more generally is also governed by Detention Services Order 19/2012 “Safeguarding Children Policy.” These documents can be found at:

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