Date: 28 September 2006
UNISON calls for Executive to demand Home Office keep their word
on asylum seekers children
UNISON - the union that represents social work staff - today reacted
angrily to the continued failure of the Home Office to implement
promised practices, and accept the need for a lead professional
to be appointed for each child; enhanced disclosure checks for all
immigration staff contacting children; and for independent inspection
of the removals process.
These were not adhered to in the most recent 'dawn raid' on asylum
seekers in Glasgow. Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISONScotland's Social
Work Issues Group said: "The Immigration Minister announced these
steps forward in protecting vulnerable asylum seeker children back
in March. This followed meetings with of the Scottish Executive
by UNISON about a role for social work professionals and pressure
by them on the Home Office.
"Our members working with children of asylum seekers know how
essential these steps are to ensure that the law is being adhered
to, and that the welfare of these children is paramount. We have
had considerable positive reaction from the Government until now,
and we are deeply concerned that this appears to be an attempt to
undermine these steps.
"We call on the Immigration Minister to keep his word, and call
on the Scottish Executive to demand that the Home Office abide by
the law and their promises when dealing with children in Scotland."
Children living in Scotland are all covered by the Children (Scotland)
Act 1995, which operates on the principles of the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child - the welfare of the child must be paramount
and the child's views should be taken into account in all matters
affecting him or her. This is however compromised by asylum and
UNISON is soon to issue advice to members on how best to provide
an assessment to asylum seekers and their children. The union is
also campaigning for an amnesty for asylum seekers and for the UK
government to give children their full rights under the UN Convention.
Stephen said "We condemn the continued use of dawn raids and the
general treatment of asylum seekers and their children. The role
of social workers is to provide an assessment of the needs of a
family, not to humanise the inhumane actions of the Home Office
in relation to dawn raids."
For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie
(Chair - Social Work issues group) 07740 096 864(m) Chris Bartter
(Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)