End Child Detention Now press campaign October 2009 to the present
Here's what we’ve been up to in the press (in reverse order). All these pieces, one way or another — researching, writing, ghosting, dreaming up stunts, press-releasing, guiding into print — were initiated by us. We haven’t included those articles where End Child Detention Now is only quoted . . .
openDemocracy 12 June 2013
Boy locked up for months in adult immigration jail
Child detention goes on in the UK regardless of government claims to have ended it.
openDemocracy 24 October 2012
G4S uses ‘unacceptable’ force on pregnant detainee at UK family detention centre
HM Inspectorate of Prisons report finds that G4S security staff at a UK Border Agency detention facility “deserve great credit”, despite unacceptable use of force on pregnant detainee.
openDemocracy 27 September 2012
Coalition promise in tatters as Home Office 'independent' panel wants more children detained
An 'independent' panel supposed to protect children caught up in the asylum system reveals its own capture by the Border Agency.
openDemocracy 31 August 2012
Beyond the G4S Olympic fiasco: what now for the world's largest security company and its critics?
G4S’s Olympic debacle was just one in a history of serious cases of negligence.
openDemocracy 20 July 2012
Lord Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, attacks 'perverse' decision not to prosecute G4S over Mubenga death
A terrible day for the UK Border Agency, as Peers describe its culture of disbelief, its abuse of torture victims, the denial of legal representation, dawn raids on pregnant mothers, the perils of outsourcing, ‘loutish and aggressive’ behaviour, deaths by G4S, and that’s not all . . .
openDemocracy 16 July 2012
The UK Border Agency's long, punitive campaign against children (helped by G4S and Serco)
The Agency’s abuse of children and its relentless misrepresentation of evidence of harm.
openDemocracy 10 July 2012
G4S teaches UK Border Agency how to care for children
It’s no joke — the world’s biggest security company is training immigration staff in “Keeping Children Safe”.
openDemocracy 15 June 2012
Controversial doctor and Barnardo’s serve UK’s flawed child detention policy
Cracks show in ‘compassionate approach’ to locking up children for the sake of administrative convenience.
openDemocracy 7 June 2012
How many children secretly deported under UK Border Agency’s Gentleman’s Agreement?
When heartless illegality is official Government policy.
openDemocracy 6 June 2012
Like it or not, G4S is securing your world
Growing from our reporting on the scandal of child immigration detention here in the UK, OurKingdom launches its G4S collection.
openDemocracy 14 February 2012
Respect and suicide prevention at the UK Border Agency
“Staff did not carry anti-ligature knives,” inspectors found on their unannounced visit last October to Waterside Court in Leeds, one of the UK Border Agency’s holding facilities for immigration detainees. What’s more, escort staff at the commercial contractor Reliance Security “had difficulty in locating anti-ligature knives and one van did not have a knife at all”.
openDemocracy 17 January 2012
A child, a bleeding anus, interrogation by the UK Border Agency
Child B is apprehended after landing in Dover. He is subjected to something called a “welfare interview” and asked “Are you in any pain?” Yes, he says. The little finger on his left hand is in a splint. He is bleeding from his anus. His interrogator writes that Child B has been prescribed “Petadine” by doctors in Belgium. The boy is asked if he wants to see a doctor now in Dover. Yes, he says. But he doesn’t see a doctor. That was just a question on the form.
West Sussex County Times 31 Dec 2011
Santa barred from Centre
Santa found his way blocked by perimeter fences, locked doors and security guards when he and three helpers attempted to deliver presents to children in the immigration detention facility at Pease Pottage.
Private Eye (issue 1303) 9-22 Dec 2011
Beyond our Keen
Questions are being asked about the appointment of “independent doctor” John W. Keen to a UK Border Agency advisory panel supposed to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children” facing detention and removal.
Private Eye (issue 1303) 9-22 Dec 2011
Cedars House rules
How Barnardo’s fights for detained children’s interests. Or, rather, doesn’t.
openDemocracy 9 December 2011
Illuminating the UK’s lethal detention and deportation conditions
Towards closer monitoring of the UK Border Agency and its commercial contractors.
openDemocracy 25 November 2011
Child detention goes on and on in the UK
Despite coalition government pledges that the new ‘pre-departure accommodation’ in the Sussex village of Pease Pottage would be used as a ‘last resort’ and that children would normally be held for less than 72 hours, a Freedom of Information request from the campaign group ‘No-Deportations’ discovered that of the 11 children who entered Cedars pre-departure accommodation in September 2011: 3 children spent 1 day in detention, 2 spent 2 days, 2 spent 4 days, 3 spent 7 days, and the remaining child, having spent 4 days in detention was still detained as at 30 September 2011.
ReliefWeb 21 November 2011
Ending child detention – the most achievable human rights goal?
The detention of children for immigration purposes stands out as one human rights issue for which there is a remarkable extent of consensus, in both the damage it causes and the need for action to bring it to an end.
openDemocracy 21 November 2011
How official lying harms our democracy
Ministerial lies, burial of medical evidence, the routine fabrication upon which the child detention policy is based. A submission to the House of Lords Communications Committee.
openDemocracy 21 November 2011
Official lying in the UK: what child detention reveals about how we are governed
Introducing Clare Sambrook’s disturbing new dossier.
openDemocracy 5 November 2011
"Just Go!" A final slap for the unwanted: Britain’s deportation shame
Ten days ago, I watched in despair as almost 20 women were forcibly taken to Stansted airport to be removed from the UK aboard a bus branded ‘Just Go!’. I am unable to get the image out of my mind.
Guardian Diary 3 November 2011
UKBA officials get the paperwork in order in case a detainee dies.
Who thought to send detainees from Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire in a bus with the logo Just Go?
openDemocracy 27 September 2011
In Nick Clegg’s fantasy world, child detention in the UK has ended
Among the many things that Liberal Democrats can be proud of when squaring up to their critics, Clegg told delegates, was that child detention has “ended”.
openDemocracy 26 September 2011
Selling the state: the 'unethical' companies taking over UK public services
The companies managing UK immigration have come in for criticism once again, in new research by pressure group Ethical Consumer.
openDemocracy 20 September 2011
Man’s inhumanity to man: why and how the UK asylum system must change
Studies over the past ten years consistently demonstrate the callous disregard for human rights and human dignity that accompanies asylum seekers who are being removed from the UK. Medical Justice, Amnesty International and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture — now called Freedom from Torture — have reported on research that shows brutal physical violence and traumatized and ill-treated children.
openDemocracy 23 August 2011
Hard-hitting play on asylum system is a favourite of the Edinburgh Fringe
Catherine O’Shea’s award winning new play, Fit for Purpose, has rightly been described by Scottish Life as one of the three best intellectual picks of the Edinburgh Fringe.
openDemocracy 8 August 2011
'Barnardo’s! Please quit the child detention business'
Back in March, almost a year after the government had promised to end what Nick Clegg called the “shameful practice” of locking up asylum seeking families in conditions known to harm their mental health, Barnardo’s stunned children’s advocates by revealing that it had agreed to work with the UK Border Agency and security giant G4S at the new immigration detention centre for families with children at Pease Pottage near Gatwick that’s opening later this Summer.
openDemocracy 27 July 2011
Theatre of Inhumanity: a damning portrayal of the UK asylum system.
openDemocracy 15 July 2011
UK asylum: Fit for Purpose?
Over four years a young dramatist’s curiosity drew her into the UK’s asylum system. Her new play previews in London.
More about Catherine O'Shea
The Guardian (Letters) 10 July 2011
This “Shameful practice” continues
Far from delivering "reforms that will give the UK one of the most child-friendly immigration systems in the developed world," as Nick Clegg promised last December, the "shameful practice" of child detention that Clegg claimed was ending continues with a vengeance.
openDemocracy 7 July 2011
“Duty of care” vs “earnings per share”: private contractors in the UK immigration removals business
“We have always operated to the highest possible standards of safety and welfare for those people in our care,” said G4S, the security giant in whose care Jimmy Mubenga died after “restraint”, Aboriginal elder Mr Ward was slowly cooked to death, and a five-year-old (unlawfully detained) was frisked by a latex-gloved employee saying: “You’re a big boy now, so I have to search you”.
openDemocracy 6 July 2011
Frisk the 5-year-old
The UK Government’s new compassionate approach to child detention “You’re a big boy now so I have to search you,” said the G4S custody officer to the five-year-old, donning latex gloves and patting him down at a Heathrow Airport detention facility run by outsourcing giant G4S.
openDemocracy 24 June 2011
Why Britain’s refugees and asylum seekers have little to cheer about
A reply to the IPPR’s Tim Finch’s celebration of aspects of British asylum policy and politics.
Detention: a growth market for the PFI wealth machine
openDemocracy 22 June 2011
The PFI wealth machine: transferring billions from UK taxpayers to private financiers
The Private Finance Initiative has recklessly transferred billions from UK taxpayers to private financiers. Now we’re nicely asking for a little bit of our money back.
Private Eye (issue 1291) 21 June 2011
G4S locks up the captive market
Congratulations to G4S, the gigantic "Securing Your World" security company that has made sales of £4.2 billion to the Minister of Justice alone.
openDemocracy 8 June 2011
Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S
The horrible death of a respected Aboriginal elder casts doubt upon often-unchallenged assumptions about the virtues of privatization.
Government reneges on pledge to end child detention
openDemocracy 11 May 2011
The UK continues to detain children, a year after the Coalition's decision to end it
openDemocracy 1 April 2011
Oranges and Sunshine: Barnardo's must learn from past mistakes
The film 'Oranges and Sunshine' tells of the thousands of British children forced into migration to the Commonwealth in the 1880s. Barnardo's played a part. Today, the children's charity faces accusations of collusion with the government over child detention.
openDemocracy 3 February 2011
A child prisoner, a Santa suit and a Border Agency out of ministerial control
In this morning’s Independent Andrew Grice reveals that the UK Border Agency locked up an 11-year-old girl in an immigration removal centre on Christmas Day in defiance of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s promise that no child would be so detained at Christmas.
As recently as 10 January the Home Office falsely claimed that no child had been detained at Christmas. Besides making deputy prime minister Nick Clegg look a deceiver and a Grade A twit, this story betrays UK Border Agency incompetence and contempt for democratic process, proving yet again that it is not fit to be entrusted with children’s care.
UNHCR.ORG 25 January 2011
The importance of being adversarial
Why are some big organizations so scared of being adversarial? What are their well-paid press officers getting into the media? If the answer is "not much" or "tame stuff" then they're failing the public who fund them and failing the vulnerable people whose interests they are supposed to be championing. read on
openDemocracy 13 January 2011
An end to child detention?: a High Court judgement brings us closer
openDemocracy 11 January 2011
Man or mouse? Keith Vaz should demand urgent reform of the UK Border Agency
‘Much of the delay in concluding asylum and other immigration cases stems from poor quality decision-making when the application is initially considered,’ says Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee whose latest report on the UK Border Agency’s work is published today.
Two cheers for Vaz and the HASC! It might be three if only they were clearer and more forceful in their criticism of an agency whose deficiencies are systemic and rooted in a culture characterised by denial and deceit. read on
Mind the gap! Coalition action and words
Liberal Democrat Voice 1 January 2011
Child detention – mind the gap between rhetoric and reality
‘Today marks a big culture shift within our immigration system,’ said Nick Clegg two weeks ago, announcing plans purporting to end child detention. ‘That practice, the practice we inherited, ends here,’ he said.
Sadly, it didn’t end there. read on
openDemocracy 31 December 2010
Mind the Gap! Coalition claims and realities for child detention
When Nick Clegg announced two weeks ago, ‘Today marks a big culture shift within our immigration system,’ I was struck by a vivid image of horses struggling to push carts. A big culture shift is exactly what is needed at the Home Office, but there is no sign of its happening any time soon. read on
openDemocracy 15 December 2010
Five years of denial: the UK government’s reckless pursuit of a punitive asylum policy — never mind the evidence of harm
Maybe deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is poised to end for good the scandal of child detention by the immigration authorities in his pre-Christmas statement. Maybe not.
Perhaps they’re making Clegg the bagman for the latest load of Home Office trickery regarding a policy that for years has been characterised by both brutality and deceit. I hope not.
But this is a moment to gather together the shameful evidence of the last five years so that it will not be forgotten. read on
C4 Dispatches 29 November 2010
The Kids Britain Doesn’t Want
Through the stories of a 10-year-old Iranian boy, a 16-year-old Afghan and a 22-year-old Ugandan woman, Dispatches explores the experiences of young people who have been brutalized by the British asylum system. video on 4oD site. feature by director David Modell here.
Times 27 November 2010
Children seek the final exit from house of nightmares
One day last year a young woman walked into the police station of her northern town to sign in, as the immigration authorities required her to do fortnightly. It was a Monday. As usual she had left her two-year-old son playing with friends. This time she did not return to collect him.
BBC R4 Media Show 24 November 2010
Investigative journalism and End Child Detention Now
Having won two investigative journalism prizes, the Paul Foot Award and the Bevins Prize for investigation into child detention in the UK,talks with Steve Hewlett about the campaign.
Big Issue in the North 22 November 2010
Why don’t we keep our promise on child detention?
While we wait for Nick Clegg to rediscover his sense of moral outrage, innocent children continue to be locked up. read on
Thanks to Martin Rowson (click image to enlarge).
Through the Summer of 2009 six friends helped a small family who had been split up and imprisoned simply because they had exercised their legal right to claim asylum in this country.
One family's story
The father was separated from his wife and toddler for nine months. The mother was snatched one morning, leaving her two year old child parentless for 4 days. This traumatised family was reunited by uniformed guards in a car-park, then locked up in Yarl’s Wood detention centre for 26 days.
The 31st solicitor we called agreed to represent them. Our local press and radio campaign achieved repeat coverage across Yorkshire and Cumbria. Eventually this family was released and permitted leave to remain here. There had never been any reason to detain them.
Enraged by what our government had done to them, we launched — we hoped — the shortest campaign in British political history: End Child Detention Now. This page is about our press campaign, led by Clare Sambrook. There's more about the full campaign here.
Since October 2009 we have worked to enhance the quality, depth and volume of reporting on the UK government’s policy of locking up asylum-seeker families who are at no risk of absconding in places, such as Yarl’s Wood, known to harm their mental health.
Investigative journalism fuels campaign
Clare Sambrook has researched and written investigative stories and comment articles — published in openDemocracy, Private Eye and Guardian.co.uk — exposing Home Office efforts to bury medical evidence of harm, exposing the practice of classifying unaccompanied children as adults, and illuminating the government’s cosy relationship with the security companies who run the detention centres for profit.
LOGO BY PAUL LITTLEWOOD — PIC JO HUNT
Running a sort of free press agency, Clare has researched and given away stories, ranging from Paddington Bear's comment on the detention policy, to the buried child protection report — on failures to investigate a case of child sex abuse at Yarl’s Wood — that might otherwise have been kept out of the media.
Clare has provided investigative research, academic research (by Alexa Kellow, Esmé Madill and Dr Simon Parker), the fruits of Freedom of Information requests (by Elena Egawhary) and other intelligence to media including C4 Dispatches (through Dartmouth Films), and to Michael Morpurgo for his BBC Daily Politics appearance.
Helping detainees into print
Clare helped child detainee Wells Botomani turn his account of incarceration at Yarl’s Wood into a Guardian Society cover story and a Baptist Times spread, enabled families detained at Yarl’s Wood to get their letter to Nick Clegg into the Observer, and secured coverage in Community Care for young refugees petitioning Downing Street (left).
We have helped eminent experts get their comment articles into the Guardian and Daily Telegraph, and helped other groups, including Refugee & Migrant Justice, the medical Royal Colleges, Welsh Refugee Council, Positive Action in Housing, Refugee Diaries and SOAS Detainee Support, get stories into the media.
The End Child Detention Now team — a group of friends working unpaid — have written our own comment articles across the national and professional press — Guardian, Independent, Community Care, Nursery World, Big Issue in the North. Clare’s campaign reporting and comment has won the 2010 Paul Foot Award and the Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism.
Bishops, novelists and Paddington Bear
Our series of public letters signed by prominent Bishops, novelists, children’s writers and actors, published in the Guardian, Observer and Daily Telegraph, opened up fruitful relationships with, among others, children’s writers Beverley Naidoo, Michael Morpurgo and Michael Bond who kindly forwarded a comment from Paddington Bear (see below) that earned a whole page in the Independent.
We’ve used Facebook and Twitter to bring new readers to our published material. We've encouraged social action sites and faith media to cross-post, some of our stories running simultaneously on openDemocracy, Counterfire, Manchester Mule, Independent Catholic News and Quaker Asylum & Refugee Network.
Lobbying Members of Parliament
Mary McCormack led our effort to lobby MPs to sign Chris Mullin MP’s early day motion calling upon the government to end the practice of holding children in immigration detention centres. In all 121 MPs supported the Motion. Nick Clegg agreed to ask all Liberal Democrat MPs to sign. The Lib Dems went on to make ending child detention a manifesto pledge and successfully pushed for its inclusion in the coalition agreement and the Queen's Speech.
This work is dedicated to all the people who have suffered the injustices of the UK asylum system, with thanks to all the journalists who have run our material.
Whenever I hear about children from foreign countries being put into detention centres, I think how lucky I am to be living at number 32 Windsor Gardens with such nice people as Mr. and Mrs. Brown.
Mrs. Bird, who looks after the Browns, says if she had her way she would set the children free and lock up a few politicians in their place to see how they liked it!
Paddington Bear (kindly forwarded by Michael Bond)
Guardian 18 November 2010
The only alternative to detaining 1000 children a year, as Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert said in June, is not to detain them. read on
openDemocracy 16 November 2010
On Her Majesty’s Deceitful Service: The Woolas Case and the Ignoble Lies of the British State
Rather than raking over the coals of the Oldham East and Saddleworth Election campaign, we should examine Phil Woolas’s record as Immigration Minister.read on
openDemocracy 9 November 2010
Clare wins again! 'Investigative Comment' and the future of journalism on the web
Clare Sambrook has just won the Bevins Prize for Investigative Journalism, as well as scooping up the Paul Foot Award last week, both of them for her stories exposing the scandal of child detention in Britain. It is a terrific recognition of her and her team of unpaid fellow campaigners at End Child Detention Now. openDemocracy is proud of being her main publisher, in our UK section OurKingdom. Her reports are listed here.
It is the first time that either award has gone to journalism primarily published on the web. The changing balance between the new and mainstream media, much chattered about, is now becoming real. In the process the nature of journalism is being changed. For the better.
openDemocracy 8 November 2010
UK Gov’s slippery response on ‘moral outrage’ of child detention
End Child Detention Now’s point-by-point rebuttal of the government’s highly misleading letter to thousands of people who signed our online petition calling for the end of child detention. read on
openDemocracy 15 October 2010
Meet G4S, Government’s untouchable friend
The Guardian’s disturbing revelations about the final fatal journey of Angolan Jimmy Mubenga in the care of Home Office contractor G4S have sent a chill through migrant networks. The name resonates.
At G4S-run Tinsley House last October a 10 year old asylum-seeker who had been forcibly arrested and locked up, let go, arrested and locked up again, got predictably distressed and tried to strangle herself.
This year, in March, a report by Baroness Nuala O’Loan into allegations of abuse by G4S and other contractors found, ‘inadequate management of the use of force by the private sector companies’, and made 22 recommendations for change. read on
Private Eye (issue 1272) 1 October 2010
Clegg’s back-track on detention
'After Labour’s decade-long assault on civil liberties . . . we’ve scrapped child detention in the immigration system,’ boasted Nick Clegg in a begging letter to supporters just before the Lib Dem’s party’s conference. Alas this was not true. read on
Highlighting Home Office culture of disbelief
New Londoners 28 September 2010
Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and the ‘Culture of Disbelief'
Traumatised by war, abuse, torture, trafficking, sexual exploitation or persecution, unaccompanied asylum seeking children are among the most vulnerable people in our society. According to Home Office figures, 405 of them, most from Afghanistan, made asylum applications between January and March this year. Powerless and without independent adult guidance, many have to manoeuvre themselves through the complex, adult asylum system. read on
Video Journalism Movement 15 Sept 2010
Refugees out in the cold
Short film by ADAM WESTBROOK including interviews with ECDN contacts: Songul, whose asylum case is one of those in limbo as a result of the Refugee & Migrant Justice collapse, solicitor Hani Zubeidi, and Bernard Thurlow, volunteer refugee worker. view
Liberal Democrat Voice 15 September 2010
Please ensure they end child detention
Liberal Democrats are understandably confused about whether child detention is ending or not.
Nick Clegg got the commitment to end child detention into the Coalition Agreement. Only last Thursday Sarah Teather promised: ‘Rest assured. It will be done.’
She also said: ‘We have to be careful not to rush into this as we are dealing with the safety and well-being of often vulnerable children and it is essential it is done properly.’
Quite how children’s safety might be served by not rushing to end a practice proven to wreck their lives is a mystery that suggests leading Liberal Democrats have been gulled by the detention enthusiasts at the Home Office. read on
openDemocracy 13 September 2010
The Liberal Democrats must fight to salvage their promise to end the detention of children for immigration purposes in the UK.
Ask Boy A what he is scared of and he says dogs, strangers and policemen. He is scared to go outside and play with friends. At night he wets his bed. He cannot sleep without his mother. He is nine years old.
At their autumn conference this weekend Liberal Democrats wanting to rescue their end child detention pledge from Home Office sabotage will find ammunition in a chilling new report from Medical Justice. read on