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Bishop welcomes an end to child detention in immigration in system

The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Woolwich, Bishop elect of Southwark and Bishop for Urban Life and Faith said:

"We welcome the Deputy Prime Minister's statement this morning announcing the ending of the detention of children for immigration purposes.  As the DPM acknowledges the detention of families at Yarl's Wood has been a shameful practice. We have been acutely aware of the impact of removal and detention on those who experience it as well as those left behind, in our schools, communities and congregations.

"The value and potential of many children has been denied through the procedures of taking families in dawn raids and detaining them in removal centres. The children of asylum seekers are a vulnerable group, and must not be made more so by procedures which have no regard for their mental health and wellbeing.

"We hope that those who have been traumatized by the experience of detention will be supported and monitored in the years to come. We trust that the temporary facilities at Tinsley House will be scrutinised by independent monitors so they do not become an extension of the Yarl's Wood regime.

"The use of an independent family review panel for resolving cases is to be welcomed. I hope that we will see similar panels being used elsewhere in the asylum system.

"The treatment of families in all stages of the asylum process remains a concern.  Good asylum policy is best served by the quality of initial decisions not by appeals and the protracted procedures that can lead to forced removals. We call on HMG to guarantee that good decisions are made through ensuring the quality and fairness of the decision making, and access to support and legal aid for those making applications.

"We pay tribute to the many groups who have campaigned against this unacceptable practice - particularly The Children's Society, End Child Detention. Barnardos, the Diana Fund and Citizens for Sanctuary. We also acknowledge the significant leadership in this offered by the former Children's Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green."