Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-121)|
26 MARCH 2008
Q120 Annette Brooke: There are many
questions on Care Matters that we could ask Margaret while
she is here, but I would like briefly to ask her about unaccompanied
asylum seekers. Many people see that as a missed opportunity as
far as the legislation on child care matters and young offenders
is concerned. With regard to the so-called joined-up thinking
within the Department, which has some responsibilities that were
former Home Office functions, why are they missed out and what
should we do about that?
Margaret Dillon: The reasons why
they are missed out are somewhat complex, but I think that you
have to see both unaccompanied asylum seekers and young offenders
as children first, with the same needs as a whole range of other
children. Therefore, you need to plan services that will best
meet their needs. I think that that is the challenge and that
there is a greater understanding across Government Departments
of the need to bring everyone who has responsibility for different
cohorts of children together around the table to say, "What
can we do that best meets those needs in a much more joined-up
way?" I think that if central Government can model that,
it will certainly help local authorities to improve the ways in
which they integrate thinking on joining up services that will
meet the needs of children.
Mary MacLeod: If the Committee
could make a really strong statement about the use of physical
restraint with young people in the prison estate and in young
offenders institutions, it would be really helpful.
Professor Tunstill: I have to
say something about money. It is a Catch-22, but I am sure that
local authorities would wish to do the very best that they can
for asylum seekers. There will be pockets of local authorities
who are under very much greater stress, depending on whether they
are near Heathrow or wherever, which probablyif I can put
in a plea on your behalf, Anneneed some more money.
Q121 Chairman: This has been a fantastic
session. We are on a steep learning curve. I hope that you have
found it valuable. If we are going to write a good report we need
you to maintain your relationship with the Committee. If you think
that there are things that we have missed, and of course there
have been, please communicate with us. I think you know how to
do that. We are keen to make this an extremely good first report
from the Committee. Will you stay with us?
Margaret Dillon: I wanted to make
an offer, and this applies to Anne too: if any Member wants to
visit any of our services, we can facilitate that. That might
enable you to see what a service looks like and to talk to some
of the service users and hear from them at first hand.
Chairman: That would be extremely valuable.
If you could do that individually for members of the Committee
near their constituencies or together, that would be brilliant.
Margaret Dillon: We will work
with the Committee.
Chairman: Thank you very much for your