Every Child Matters – NOT. Pt 1
Every Child Matters says our caring UK government but there are exceptions, actually quite a considerable number of exceptions. One of these are the children who are locked away for indefinite periods. They are not charged with nor convicted of any crime nor are they locked up for their own safety or to protect others. They do not know when or where they may eventually be released and their fate lies in the hands of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy. I write, of course, of the children locked away in Yarl’s Wood and other immigration detention centres such as brutal Tinsley Green. There have been many reports and articles about this scandal. What beats me is how the government in the person of Phil Woolas who is responsible for the ghastly UK Border Agency and its repressive activities can defend the indefinite and harmful detention of children while his colleague, Ed Balls, claims the aim of the DCFS is “to make this [the UK] the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up.”
Wonderful children’s writers including Beverley Naidoo, Michael Rosen, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Quentin Blake, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Bond, Benjamin Zephaniah and Philip Pullman have written the following letter to Gordon Brown:
Dear Mr Brown,
As writers and illustrators of books for children, we urge you to stop detaining children whose families have sought asylum in the UK.
We strongly support those doctors represented by the Royal Colleges of Paediatrics & Child Health, General Practitioners and Psychiatrists, the Faculty of Public Health and the Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green, in the concerns they have expressed about the trauma being experienced by children whose families have sought asylum in the UK.
These children have already had their worlds torn apart and witnessed their parents in turmoil and in stress. No wonder that paediatricians and psychologists report that child detainees are confused, fearful, unable to sleep, suffer headaches, tummy pains and weight loss and exhibit severe emotional and behavioural problems
The UK Border Agency asserts that ‘Treating children with care and compassion is a priority’, but it continues with the policy of child detention which has been shown to harm children. The Government must end child detention, now.
I’d be very surprised if the author’s letter makes the government change course even by the tiniest degree. Henry Porter says “Let us hope that the government, and Mr Woolas in particular, have not sunk to the level of mistreating children to discourage those who, in desperation, ask Britain for sanctuary.” Sadly, it seems the government has indeed sunk to that depth, presumably with the aim of soliciting the support of the BNP, its supporters and other racists.
Even Santa is to be kept away from the imprisoned children, that is the real Santa and his Christmas gifts. But, children do not despair because Santa Alan Kittle, otherwise known as Director of Detention Services for the UK Border Agency said. “UKBA already has procedures in place to ensure any children held in detention over the Christmas period receive a present and get to see Santa.”
The words; “we have procedures in place” must surely rank as the second most terrifying English phrase after Ronald Reagan’s; “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”