Yarl’s Wood staff criticised for poor investigation into child sex case

Youth in Prison Celloriginally published by: The Guardian
14th June 2010

Social workers failed to properly investigate a case of two five-year-old boys found engaging in sexual activity at Yarl’s Wood detention centre and concerns an older child may have abused one of them, an official report found today.

The independent review by Bedford and Central Bedfordshire safeguarding children boards also criticised police, the UK Borders Agency and Serco, which runs the centre. It said the case highlighted a gap in the regulation of services to children in immigration detention, with no single agency having enough overarching responsibility.

The coalition government has pledged to end the practice of keeping children detention centres within the next few months. More than 1,000 children a year are held in such centres.

Medical evidence, including a report from the Royal Colleges of paediatricians, GPs and psychiatrists, has found that the detention of children in the asylum system is linked to serious physical and psychological harm. The policy has been criticised by the government’s inspectorate and the former children’s commissioner for England.

“None of the agencies involved in this case gave adequate weight to the particular inherent vulnerability of children in detention, nor to the issues of diversity affecting these children and their families,” the executive summary of the review said.

After the two five-year-olds were discovered behaving in a sexual nature in September 2009 it was alleged one had been the subject of sexual assaults by an older child aged 11 or 15.

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