POLITICS
07/07/2011 16:17 BST | Updated 06/09/2011 06:12 BST

Barnardo's proposes detention rules

PRESS ASOCIATION -- Barnardo's has laid down the rules it wants the Government to follow to ensure it keeps the charity's support in removing children of failed asylum seekers from the UK.

The children's charity will provide help and support to families while they are being held in new centres for up to a week before being removed.

Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo's, insisted the new centres were a "last resort" and "can not be a detention centre by any other means", adding she would not be afraid to speak out over concerns.

Children will normally be kept in the centres for up to 72 hours prior to their departure but their stays could reach "a week as a maximum", the Home Office has said.

Ms Carrie said that if any family has stayed more than once or for more than a week due to a UK Border Agency procedural error, she would speak out. If this happens more than twice, then the charity will withdraw its services.

Barnardo's will also pull out if more than 10% of families removed from the UK are processed through the centres, or if the Tinsley House detention centre is used if the pre-departure accommodation (PDA) unit is full.

If the behaviour of any staff who work in the PDA, which will include personnel from both the UKBA and private-security firms, raises concerns, there must be an "immediate review of personnel" and, if the concerns are not addressed, Barnardo's will withdraw its services.

Ms Carrie also called for a hardship fund to be set up to help failed asylum seekers "with immediate costs incurred on return to their countries".

"I agree there's a risk the PDA could become a revolving door for families and that's why Barnardo's will speak out if any family has stayed more than once, or for more than the maximum of a week due to a UKBA procedural error," she said.

"I am absolutely clear that if policy and practice fall short of safeguarding the welfare, dignity and respect of families, then Barnardo's will raise concerns, will speak out, and, ultimately, if we have to, we will withdraw our services."