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Keeping children in the immigration system safe from harm
The Border and Immigration Agency's commitment to keeping children safe from harm was reinforced today with the announcement of an overhaul of the Agency's policies concerning children by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne.
A new amendment to the UK Borders Bill will for the first time place a legal obligation on the Border and Immigration Agency to keep children safe from harm. The Agency will have a duty to have regard to a new statutory Code of Practice when dealing with children as it carries out its immigration functions.
The amendment came as part of a package of measures including a pilot to explore alternatives to detention of children result of a review of section 4 and the use of section 9, a review of family removals, and the launch of the Agency's framework of principles to keep children safe from harm.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:
"When we keep our borders safe we can't forget the need to treat, often vulnerable children, with care and respect.
Working to keep children safe is not new to our Agency. The steps we are announcing today - particularly making provision in the UK Borders Bill to place the Border and Immigration Agency's responsibilities on a statutory footing - are a big step forward and I pay tribute to campaigning organisations who have helped us get our policy right.
Our commitments in the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking and our consideration of the particular needs of unaccompanied children who claim asylum demonstrate this. The Code of Practice will underpin this commitment and provide a robust and transparent basis for helping to keep children safe."
DfES Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said:
"Keeping children and young people safe is a top priority, and must be a shared responsibility. I very much welcome today's statement by Liam Byrne and the Border and Immigration Agency and I am particularly pleased that the Agency is seeking to place its responsibilities to keep children safe from harm on a statutory footing.
I also welcome the Agency's commitment, in its framework of principles, to working in partnership with statutory safeguarding agencies and Government departments to ensure that every child's safety matters, regardless of their individual circumstances."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The amendment to the UK Borders Bill is part of wider package of measures that includes:
* Border and Immigration Agency 'Child Safety Strategy' - including its framework of principles to keep children safe, consensus reached on the UASC consultation, and forthcoming consultations on section 4 regulations;
* 'Family Removals Review' executive summary, recommendations, and key milestones;
* section 9 report and WMS explaining section 9 will be retained on the statute books; and
* details of a supported accommodation pilot, run in conjunction with Migrant Helpline, for families awaiting removal.
2. Documents relating to the Border and Immigration Agency's 'Child Safety Strategy' are available at http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/.
3. UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking is available a http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/human-traffick-action-plan
4. The Border and Immigration Agency Business Plan, which gives more information on how we are delivering an immigration system fit for the 21st Century, is available at: http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/