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Immigration minister clarifies position on child detention

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Responding to a question from Greg Mulholland MP over the future of Yarl's Wood detention centre last week, immigration minister Damian Green said: "We are looking at alternatives to detention for children... It is our intention to minimise the detention of children..."

Many commentators saw this as a climbdown on the coalition's earlier promise to go one step further and abolish child detention for immigration purposes.

Well, thankfully, the minister has now come out and clarified his position...

In a written statement, Mr Green has confirmed that 'the family unit at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre will close'.

He has not set a date for closure, but said 'significant progress' had been made in 'working towards the commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes,' which, he said, 'remains' a coalition objective.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency, Lin Homer, has refused to comment on the recent investigation by Medical Justice Foundation into the impact of child detention.

This six-year study shows that many children locked up at UKBA detention centres suffer long-term psychological and physical damage, with symptoms ranging from extreme anxiety to bed wetting. Three children have also attempted suicide.

"This report proves once and for all the terrible impact detention has on children," said Emma Ginn from Medical Justice. "There is simply no excuse for the government to continue with its policy of locking up children... As Nick Clegg said, it is 'state-sponsored cruelty'."

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