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Heathrow Detention Facilities Deemed “Unsuitable” for Children, New Report Says

UK Border control is seen in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London June 4, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall - RTX2EA7V

The latest annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has published concerns regarding the quality of the facility’s detention suites. Specifically, it has raised questions about the use of the facility as a suitable space for the detention of children.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of London Heathrow Airport (LHR), which is tasked with monitoring the conditions inside the airport’s suites, has published its concerns about the detention of children in short-term holding rooms at the facility, reports The Evening Standard.

The body’s latest annual report said that while “marked improvements” had been made with respect of the airport’s temporary holding rooms, it also noted that, “None of the holding rooms provides satisfactory overnight accommodation. The holding rooms are unsuitable for the detention of children, whether with their families or unaccompanied, beyond the very briefest period.”

Over the course of the last nine months, the outlet reports that about 1,500 children had been held within these facilities at the airport. Some, it stated, had been detained for more than 12 hours.

Offering her comments, IMB chairman Angela Taylor was quoted as saying that, “Overall we have found many detention and escort staff to be caring and sympathetic to the detainees they have to manage, including vulnerable individuals and families.

However, the holding rooms can never be a friendly environment, especially for those individuals who are waiting for long periods, are tired and anxious after their flights, and in some cases are fearful of what will happen to them if they are sent back to their own country,” she added.

Speaking out about these findings, a spokesperson for Britain’s Home Office, the body which is responsible for immigration, said, “We are pleased that the Independent Monitoring Board has recognized that the removal of detainees at Heathrow Airport is carried out satisfactorily.”

We are considering the contents of the report and the Independent Monitoring Board’s recommendations carefully,” they added.

[Featured Image: Flickr/ Jim Larrison]

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