Review of child detention launched in Glasgow

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Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre
Image caption,
Child detention ended at Dungavel last month

A UK-wide review of how asylum seeker families with children are treated has been launched in Glasgow.

The immigration minister Damian Green is holding talks at the UK Border Agency's headquarters in the city.

The aim is to end the detention of children at immigration centres.

The practice has already been halted at the Dungavel removal centre in Lanarkshire, but still continues in England.

Mr Green is launching a consultation process with a view to coming up with a solution to the long-running and controversial problem.

It was a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to end the detention of children at the Dungavel immigration centre and within days of coming to office the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government put an immediate stop to it there.

But families are still transferred to a similar centre in Bedfordshire, which critics said was simply shifting the problem elsewhere.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Green said the review would look at various alternatives to holding families at removal centres, including tagging.

He said he wanted to come up with other ways of keeping in touch with failed asylum seekers so they did not "go underground."

He said: "I think the problem is trying to develop a system that can distinguish quickly, efficiently and fairly between genuine refugees and those who are just using the asylum system to come here as economic migrants.

"Regrettably a lot of people do abuse the system like that.

"I'm in Glasgow today to talk to groups most involved in working with asylum seekers in Scotland about how we can best achieve a new system that means we can stop detaining children."

Last year a pilot scheme was launched in Glasgow which saw asylum families housed in former council flats, under a partnership between the council, the Scottish government and the UK Borders Agency.

But ministers are concerned that a larger scheme of its type could see many asylum seekers abscond.

Mr Green added: "I agree with those who say we shouldn't lock up children.

"It will stop as soon as we can make it stop which will hopefully be in the next few months."

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