Date 5 October 2006
UNISON calls for Executive to intervene with Home Office over
UNISON - the union that represents social work staff - has again
appealed to First Minister Jack McConnell to step in to find out
why measures to protect the welfare of asylum seeker children under
Scottish law are being ignored by the Home Office.
A commitment was made by the UK Immigration Minister back in March
to ensure that asylum-seeker's children would be assessed and each
would have a lead professional appointed, plus immigration staff
dealing with children would have to have enhanced disclosure checks.
These commitments have not yet been honoured.
UNISON's call follows a spate of recent ‘dawn raids' by immigration
officials outwith the agreed protocol. A number of these raids have
resulted in young children being separated from their parents and
driven off by people who were strangers to them.
Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary has written to Mr McConnell
calling on him to act urgently. The letter says: "In no other circumstances
would children be peremptorily separated from parents, refused the
comfort and care of their parents, be forced to witness parents
being handcuffed and be transported and detained by staff who (as
yet it appears) do not have to be subject to enhanced disclosure
"These actions fly in the face of the very protections that Scottish
child care legislation, guidance and policy seek to ensure.”
UNISON quotes the Children (Scotland) Act and other laws and guidance
which state that the child's welfare must be paramount in Scotland.
"We entered constructively into talks with the Scottish Executive
and backed an agreement that meant asylum seeker children would
be assessed, would have a lead professional and their services would
be inspected. The Home Office was meant to consult to ensure children's
needs were recognised. This is just not happening and we need to
know why”, said Matt
"As a nation we should be proud of these laws which put children
first. How can we reconcile that with ‘dawn raids' that treat innocent
children like criminals?”, he added.
For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish
Secretary) 07771 548 997(m) Stephen Smellie (Chair - Social Work
issues group) 07740 096 864(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer)
0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)