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Child-detention data shouldn’t include Cedars

28 November 2014


From Suzanne Fletcher

Sir, - Your item "Charity calls for end to child detention" (News, 21 November) refers to a report saying that 203 immigrant children were locked up each year.

The authors are mistakenly including children who are taken, with parents, to Cedars, a pre-departure centre, before removal from the UK. Cedars is not an immigration detention centre: it is run by Barnardo's, with the welfare of the children and their families at its heart, in the sad cases where the family is not able to stay in the UK.

The centre, which I have visited, and its operation are nothing like a detention centre, and the maximum time they can be there is 72 hours.

Those aged under 18 who have been recorded as being in a detention centre are likely to be there for various reasons. The number for the past 12 months was 76.

Some are age-disputed cases, who cannot be at Cedars, where children move freely in the centre, because of child-protection issues. Others are what are called "border cases": those who arrive at an airport and are not claiming asylum, and are returned on the next possible flight home. As many such places are long-distance, there is an overnight stay in the UK.

What happens in each case is being monitored closely, and better ways of dealing with any child in detention are being looked at. The situation is now vastly better than a few years ago, when thousands of innocent children were being locked in detention centres.

3 Hoylake Way, Eaglescliffe
Stockton on Tees TS16 9EU

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