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UK Politics

Immigration: Number of child detainees doubles in a month


The number of children being held in detention for immigration purposes more than doubled in a month, the latest official figures have revealed.

Despite the coalition government claiming to have ended the detention of children of asylum-seekers, Home Office figures show that 31 were held under Immigration Act powers in December last year, compared with 14 in November.

Last year, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced that the Government was proud to have ended child detention, a Lib Dem manifesto promise, which soared under the Labour government. But the new figures, the latest that are available, cast doubt on the pledge.

The 31 in December include 12 aged under five, 11 aged between five and 11, six aged 12 to 16, and two aged 17. The majority were held at Cedars, which is classed as "pre-departure accommodation" near Gatwick Airport, while some were held at Tinsley House, an immigration removal centre near by. One child was held at Yarl's Wood, the controversial centre that was supposed to have been closed by this government.

Labour's immigration spokesman, Chris Bryant, said: "Nick Clegg simply isn't telling the truth when he says that child detention has ended. I don't know what he's trying to take credit for."

A Home Office spokesman said: "While we prefer families with no right to be here to leave voluntarily, and offer support to help them do this, it is sometimes necessary for families to stay in our pre-departure accommodation prior to removal. This is done as a last resort."