Intended for healthcare professionals


Detention centres are bad for immigrant children’s health, study finds

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 15 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4219
  1. Helen Mooney
  1. 1London

    Prolonged detention in immigration centres seriously damages the physical and mental health and wellbeing of children, a new study has found.

    The UK study shows clear evidence that detention is “harmful” to children. Doctors specialising in child health examined 24 children detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, near Bedford, and found that the majority were experiencing mental and physical health difficulties related to being in detention. Many of the children had come to the United Kingdom seeking asylum.

    The doctors have called on the government to urgently re-examine its policy of keeping children detained in immigration centres after they found that children had developed depression and anxiety as well as physical problems relating to their detention. Their report, published in Child Abuse and Neglect (2009;33:573-85, doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.10.005 …

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