Improve trust in the asylum system to end child detention, urges report

By Neil Puffett

| 10 December 2010

Improving support and management of asylum seekers to ensure they have more faith in the system is the best approach to ending child detention, a report has found.

The government is currently piloting alternative ways of dealing with families in the immigration system after pledging to end child detention.

A report on alternative approaches, authored by Professor Heaven Crawley, director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea university, argues the best approach is to improve levels of trust in the system.

Crawley said poor quality of asylum decision-making can undermine the return of families for whom it is determined there are no protection needs.

"A lack of access to high-quality legal representation combined with legislative changes designed to speed up asylum decisions have resulted in some families becoming ‘failed asylum seekers’ even where significant protection concerns are outstanding," she said.

"Families who are considered ‘appeal exhausted’ may never in fact have had their cases fully and properly considered because of a lack of access to good quality legal advice and representation, including at the appeal stage. Families who consider that their protection needs have not been met will seek to remain in the UK."

Crawley believes that models introduced in Sweden, Australia and, most recently Belgium, reflect an emerging view that "a ‘case management’ approach, tailored to the level of ‘risk’ that each individual presents, offers a viable way of achieving an effective and efficient immigration system while avoiding widespread immigration detention and other problems associated with more restrictive measures."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed last week that a timetable for ending the detention of children for immigration purposes will be released by Christmas.

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