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Mr. McNulty: The number of children detained with their families under Immigration Act powers will change from day to day. However, internal management information shows that, as at 19 April 2006, there were 46 children detained with their families under Immigration Act powers: 42 at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre and four at Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre. These figures are not broken down into asylum and non-asylum cases. These individuals were all detained as part of family groups whose detention was considered necessary. The figures provided do not constitute part of the National Statistics and are based on management information. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocol and should be treated as provisional.
Information on the number of persons detained, as at 31 December 2005, broken down by those who are under 18 years of age, are published in the Quarterly Asylum Bulletin, on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Immigration and nationality directorate will notify Mrs. Robina Kouses, ref: LR1600016626/1 of her immigration status. 
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make it his policy to ensure that no decision to detain for purposes of immigration control is made unless a formal age assessment has been undertaken by social services; 
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(2) if he will establish independent age assessment dispute panels comprised of social workers, paediatricians and relevant professionals as part of his immigration detention policy. 
Mr. McNulty: We are currently reviewing ways in which the age assessment process might be improved. No decision has yet been made on whether independent age assessment dispute panels will be established.
A person claiming to be under 18 will not be treated as an adult for detention purposes unless there is credible and clear documentary evidence that they are 18 years of age or over, or a full age assessment by social services is available stating that they are 18 years or over, or their physical appearance/demeanour very strongly indicates that they are significantly older than 18 and no other credible evidence exists to the contrary.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to publish monthly statistics on the detention of children for immigration purposes, including (a) overall numbers of children detained, (b) the average length of detention of children, (c) the number of asylum applications involving age dispute issues and (d) the numbers of age disputed asylum applicants who are detained. 
Mr. McNulty: Statistics on numbers of children detained for immigration purposes and their length of detention are published on a quarterly basis in the asylum statistics bulletin. This can be used to calculate an approximate average time in detention. There are no plans to publish these statistics on a monthly basis.
The number of asylum cases involving age dispute issues is published in the annual bulletin, Asylum Statistics United Kingdom, in table 2.4, but the number of them who are detained is not held centrally. There are no plans to publish these statistics on a quarterly or annual basis broken down by months.
The latest available statistics can be found on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy on the detention of children; and what assessment he has made of the extent to which it conforms to international standards and guidelines. 
Fiona Mactaggart: Young people under 18 may only be sent to custody as a last resort, where the seriousness of the offence or offences committed makes custody unavoidable. Of the roughly 190,000 young people each year who are found to have offended, only about 4 per cent. are sentenced to custody.
The Government are committed to ensuring that non-custodial interventions are used wherever possible. We have taken major steps to bring that about, for example through the introduction and development of the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme.
The Government's policy is in accordance with our international commitments, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We currently have a Reservation against Article 37(c) of the Convention, which relates to the mixing of under- and over-18-year-olds. We will be reviewing the continuing need for that reservation in the near future.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent study he has made of alternatives to the detention of children that are used in other countries for the purpose of immigration control. 
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department is taking (a) to monitor and (b) to reduce transfers between different detention centres where transfers involve children. 
Mr. McNulty: There are no specific arrangements to monitor the number of movements of families with children between immigration removal centres. Transfers are kept to the minimum necessary. A dedicated team deals with the allocation of family accommodation and every effort is made to accommodate families in one location throughout their stay, usually at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy that assessment should be carried out to establish whether it would be better for a child to be detained with his or her family, or separated from it, as part of immigration control procedures. 
Mr. McNulty: It has very occasionally been the case that, once a child is detained with his/her parents, it has become clear that there are parenting or child protection issues that require intervention from local social services. These issues are never ignored, and the safety and well-being of the child is always paramount in such cases.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that legal advice and representation are available to all who are detained for purposes of immigration control. 
Mr. McNulty: Information is available at all immigration removal centres (IRCs) about how detainees can obtain legal advice and representation. Information about local firms of solicitors and legal advisers is kept in the libraries of all centres.
The Legal Services Commission is currently running weekly advice workshops in a number of IRCs. Detainees who do not have legal representation are able to access 30 minutes of free advice at the end of which the client will be taken on or referred onwards.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to put before the House his proposals to amend the law to prevent individuals from applying for international arrest warrants; and what discussions he has had on this issue with foreign Governments since 1 February. 
Andy Burnham: I cannot indicate at this stage when proposals may be put before Parliament. The Government are still considering a range of issues relating to the issuing of arrest warrants in international cases, but has not yet concluded what changes, if any, are required to existing legislation. Since 1 February, my Department has had discussions on this issue with representatives of Israel.
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