The scandal of child detention in the UK

"We were sleeping and the officer came. It was scary and Mum was crying."
"I didn’t think it was real, not real life."
"They were bashing and kicking the door."
“It’s not nice going to the toilet in front of an officer."
"They broke our house."

Since early 2010 OurKingdom has illuminated the UK’s appalling policy of arresting and detaining children in conditions known to harm them.

This journalism, sprung from the unfunded End Child Detention Now campaign, grew into our Shine A Light project, led by award-winning investigative reporter Clare Sambrook.


One life in investigative journalism

A Q&A with Clare Sambrook, OurKingdom co-editor and co-founder of the End Child Detention Now campaign. Interviewer: Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, writer-in-residence at Lacuna.

Hard lives: migrant children and the British state

An impassioned campaign to prevent Yashika Bageerathi's deportation has put Home Office treatment of children in the spotlight.

Why the Jimmy Mubenga trial matters. By ex-Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham

On Thursday the Crown Prosecution Service announced that three former G4S guards, Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler, would stand trial for the manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga on a BA plane in October 2010. Long before Mubenga's death, Lord Ramsbotham was among those who warned repeatedly that Home Office contractors used dangerous methods of restraint.

The nasty country? Debating immigration in the UK

A new Bill removes most grounds of appeal for immigration decisions, excludes undocumented migrants from the rental market, turns landlords into immigration police and extends charges for NHS care. On Monday 10 February Lords debated the proposals.

The latest allegations against the Home Office are as serious as they are absurd

The recent charge that the Home Office takes steps to ‘fix’ the figures is a shocking one. It shines light on a system dogged by maladministration and misplaced priorities.

The spread of social blindness: migrants & the immigration Bill

The government's immigration Bill is dehumanising, divisive, callous and unwarranted. We all have a duty to oppose it.

I believe the word you want is 'rape'

Guards, we are told, have "engaged in sexual activity with a detainee" at Yarl's Wood, the Home Office immigration jail in Bedfordshire. (Trigger warning: includes account of an incident of rape. The link from ‘taxi ads’ contains a potentially distressing image.)

Welcome to Britain. Go Home. And have a pleasant journey

The Home Office gave Capita the mobile phone number of a leading civil rights activist. They texted him and told him to Go Home. Landlords, doctors, health visitors, teachers are being enlisted as agents of border control. What's happening to the character of Britain?

Wasted lives in UK immigration detention

Yarl’s Wood, the UK Border Agency’s notorious Bedfordshire detention centre, is once again mired in scandal. How to make the inhuman absurdity of immigration detention freshly visible?

UK government deports sexual assault witnesses

Witnesses to alleged sexual abuse at Yarl's Wood detention centre are being put on a mass deportation flight to Pakistan, leaving tonight.

Another death in UK immigration detention

The latest fatality highlights lack of accountability in the management of short stay detention centres.

Justice in the UK: back to the 1930s?

Proposals to cut legal aid and judicial review in Britain will make it harder for people fighting for their rights to challenge the government's cuts agenda, and will remove one of the few lifelines to justice for asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented workers, says Kate Blagojevic. 

Lord Ramsbotham attacks 'perverse' decision not to prosecute G4S over Mubenga death

JULY 2013: Crown Prosecution Service reconsiders decision not to prosecute G4S.

JULY 2012: Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, condemns original CPS decision not to prosecute. Peers describe UK Border Agency culture of disbelief, its abuse of torture victims, denial of legal representation, dawn raids on pregnant mothers, the perils of outsourcing, ‘loutish and aggressive’ behaviour, and that’s not all . . .

When you've been tortured does it matter who your torturer was?

The UK immigration authorities are not permitted to detain victims of torture. But what is torture? A human rights worker reflects on a recent high court judgement.

Boy locked up for months in adult immigration jail

Child detention goes on in the UK regardless of government claims to have ended it. 

Lost childhoods: age disputes in the UK asylum system

Children seeking asylum in the UK are regularly disbelieved about how old they are and can end up facing harmful, protracted disputes. The culture of disbelief so often criticised in the Home Office has seeped into some local authorities, says Kamena Dorling.

Miscarriage, stillbirth, psychosis. Pregnant in UK immigration detention

It is government policy to detain pregnant women in only very exceptional circumstances. But it happens a lot. The Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warn that women and their babies are being put at risk.

Needless heartbreak: new UK rules on family migration

Today's report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration exposes deep injustice in new restrictions on family migration. Much pain and trouble might have been avoided had the government paid due regard to human rights.

UK Immigration Courts: fresh observations from the Public Gallery

Two years ago trained members of the public attending immigration bail hearings published their first report, "A Travesty of Justice". Today the Bail Observation Project reports again. Unfairness and lack of due process persist.

What stops the UK protecting victims of trafficking?

How we’ve managed to make protecting trafficking victims so complicated.

UK immigration control: children in extreme distress

Alarming numbers of parents are being separated from their children indefinitely in the UK for the purposes of immigration control. It is difficult to imagine any other situation where children could have such scant attention paid to their welfare, says Sarah Campbell. 

Is there an alternative to locking up migrants in the UK?

If detention is a tool of war on irregular migration, then the damage on both sides is severe. But this war is not inevitable. There is a significant area of potential common interest in a fair system that works primarily by consent

openDemocracy writer longlisted for Orwell Prize

Clare Sambrook, one of OurKingdom’s co-editors, is among 14 nominees for the UK’s leading prize for political journalism.

Another G4S scandal: UK's privatised asylum housing market is falling apart

The sensitive work of housing vulnerable asylum seekers appears to be defeating the world’s biggest security company. A leaked letter from G4S director (a former Rentokil executive) illuminates the unfolding crisis.

Their secret is out, but for G4S and friends ‘abject disregard' for human dignity persists

Landlords get richer. Women are harassed in their homes. The UK Border Agency's contractor G4S is using subcontractors who are not up to the task. The newly privatised market in asylum housing is a shambles and a warning.

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