End Child Detention Now praised in Scottish Parliamentary debate on child detention

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On Wednesday 2 December the Scottish Parliament held a business debate on the detention of children at Dungavel immigration removal centre. The debate, sponsored by SNP MSP Sandra White (Glasgow) revealed an unprecedented cross-party consensus against detaining children in immigration removal centres such as Dungavel.

However, the progress the Scottish government thought it had made in halting the detention of children in Scotland has proved somewhat illusory. As Sandra White told the chamber:

Last year’s commitment to limit the detention of children in Scotland to a maximum of 72 hours appeared at the time to be a step forward. Unfortunately, the measure has simply resulted in children being taken from their homes to Dungavel, held for the maximum 72 hours and then transferred to Yarl’s Wood in England after that period has expired.


This is a cynical manipulation of the Home Office’s undertaking to the Scottish government to limit the detention of children and a shocking indictment of the UKBA’s claim that children’s welfare is paramount. As Sandra White continued:

The lip service that has been paid to the agreement and the way in which the Home Office is getting round the commitment that it made is shameful and totally unacceptable.


Fortunately, opposition to the scandalous detention of Scottish asylum seeking families continues to grow. As Christine McElvie told her fellow MSPs

It is, of course, not only members of this Parliament who stand opposed to child detention: many groups and individuals throughout civic Scotland have spoken out against a practice that they regard as an affront to every basic notion about the welfare not only of vulnerable children, but of any child.

I am also encouraged that more and more voices from other parts of the UK are being raised in protest at the detention of children. I have been in contact with a recently formed citizens campaign group in England, end child detention now, which has impressively quickly mobilised Westminster MPs, including a number of principled Labour MPs, to make public their opposition to the UK Government’s policy on detention. The members of that campaign aim to achieve in England the same media and public awareness of child detention that has been built up in Scotland. They are greatly encouraged by the Scottish Government’s consistent opposition to child detention and its efforts to find alternatives.

End Child Detention Now welcomes the continued attention and concern that members of the Scottish Parliament have shown with respect to the detention of children and families and is encouraged to see a cross party consensus on the need to create alternatives to imprisoning these most vulnerable members of our community.

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