A baby was held for 100 days in Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre, it has been reported.
Dame Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, has published a critical report questioning the need to detain families and children in these centres.
She also revealed that force had been used against children twice during the last year to separate them from their families when they were being deported.
According to the Guardian she says: "What was particularly troubling was that decisions to detain, and to maintain detention of, children and families did not appear to be fully informed by considerations of the welfare of children, nor could their detention be said to be either exceptional or necessary.
"Over the past six months, 420 children had been detained, of whom half had been released back into the community, calling into question the need for detention and the disruption and distress this caused."
The Children's Commissioner also published a report last month condemning Yarl's Wood as "distressing and harmful" for children.
This latest report gives details of children being forcibly ripped from their parents, and a pregnant woman being forcibly placed and held in a wheelchair to separate her from her three-year-old son.
The immigration minister, Phil Woolas, told the Guardian that if children were not sent to Yarl's Wood they would have to be separated from their parents and put into care.
However Owers says children are being detained at the centre for long periods and sometimes even after social workers have raised concerns.
Donna Covey, of the Refugee Council, told the Guardian: "The government must rethink its policy on detention as a matter of urgency – stop detaining children altogether, and find an alternative for adults.
"Where detention is used, it must be only where absolutely necessary and for the shortest time possible."
What do you think? Should children be held in these centres at all?
Source: The Guardian
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