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A five-year-old child was sexually assaulted at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre and the authorities failed to fully investigate the incident, a report published today reveals.

Yarl's WoodThe boy was in the care of immigration services when he was found engaging in a sexual act with another five-year-old. There is evidence he had been abused by an eleven and a fifteen year old during his stay.

However, the police failed to properly investigate the incident and UKBA officials also failed to fully brief politicians despite the implications for the detention of children at the centre.

The report found social workers decided the act was consensual - despite the fact the victim was far too young to agree in law. Moreover, they thought that because the younger boys were under the age of criminal responsibility a full investigation was unnecessary.

The report from the Bedfordshire Local Safeguarding Children Board said the families involved could not take part in its investigation because they had already been deported.

The parents of the abused child were not properly informed while the older children continued to pose a risk after the incident in the autumn of 2009, according to the report’s author.

Political reappraisal
Malcolm Stevens, former senior government advisor on Social Services said: "Yarl’s Wood failed these children. Here is evidence of whole system failure in and around Yarl’s Wood.

“This calls into question whether the children there now are being properly looked after. It calls into question the competence of UKBA to conduct the current review into arrangements for children.

“The government urgently needs to appoint someone with independence, experience and professional competence to run the Review into ending child detention.”

The report found that the local authority learned of evidence that children below the age of criminal responsibility engaged in sexual activity but failed to carry out adequate enquiries in respect of two families.

The police inappropriately terminated their inquiries without reference to specialist child protection officers while the GP involved failed to recognise that this was a child protection situation and failed to ensure that the child was seen by a paediatrician.

Moreover, UKBA officials were reprimanded for not fully briefing ministers on the incident, which may have led to a political reappraisal of the detention of children for immigration purposes.

SOURCE: Clare Sambrook


#1 Guest 2010-06-15 02:08
This is truly and utterly disgusting! What are UKBA thinking? Would they permit such behaviour to go uninvestigated in the neighbourhoods where they live?
Why would social services think this is acceptable behaviour in anyone? Do they think this is acceptable because such people 'don't know any better'? - in which case it's time someone told them in no uncertain terms that they have got this one wrong!!!
The spooner the day comes when it is unacceptable to detain children at all in such centres the better!

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