Following previous posts on this issue, we are very pleased to hear that UKBA has conceded that it, and its private contractors, cannot use force against children and pregnant women in the absence of a policy on the use of force.
Four Claimants – a pregnant woman and three children – brought a judicial review on behalf of all children and pregnant women within the immigration system, challenging the legality of the UKBA’s practice of using force against these them in the absence of any clear policy limiting its use.
Shortly before the hearing for an injunction in the High Court on Friday, the UKBA re-published an old policy addressing the use of force against pregnant women and children. That policy prohibits the use of force save where absolutely necessary to prevent harm.
The Royal College of Midwives gave a witness statement in the legal proceedings. They said: “The Royal College of Midwives believes the restraint of pregnant women and children is an antiquated practice that shames us all. Midwives must serve all mothers and babies regardless of their immigration status.”
UKBA’s climb-down avoided the need for the court to extend an injunction which the Claimants had obtained in early February from Mr Justice Collins which prevented the use of force save to prevent harm occurring. In court before Mr Justice Turner on Friday, UKBA accepted that it is necessary for a policy to be in place and announced that they had published a policy today on UKBA’s website. Mr Justice Turner stated that there needed to be an immediate consultation on the terms of the policy applying to children and pregnant women.