A five-year-old child was sexually assaulted at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre – and the authorities failed to investigate the incident, a report published today reveals.
The boy was in the care of immigration services when he was found engaging in a sexual act with another five-year-old and there is evidence he had been abused by an eleven and fifteen year old during his stay.
However, the police failed to properly investigate the incident while social workers misunderstood the circumstances around “consent” at such a young age and failed to fulfil their obligations because the children were not criminally liable.
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.
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 appointment someone with independence, experience and professional competence to run the Review into ending child detention.”
The report found that the local authority earned 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