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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Review of asylum raids announced
Protest poster in door
The review follows protests in Scotland last year
The way families of failed asylum seekers are removed from the UK is to be reviewed, the Home Office says.

Immigration Minister Tony McNulty announced the review in Glasgow as part of a programme of change.

That includes screening frontline immigration staff for their suitability to work with children, in addition to the current criminal record checks.

It follows controversial "dawn raids" to pick up families in Scotland last year, deemed heavy handed by critics.

It was also announced that a new co-ordinating "regional director of immigration" post will be created in Scotland.

And independent inspection of the immigration service will now be allowed, through a provision in the Police and Justice Bill currently going through Westminster.

Dispelling myths

Mr McNulty denied the review was intentionally announced a day before the launch of a campaign calling for the end to the detention of children for immigration purposes.

The purpose will be to get details from the children's commissioners and others about the nature of removals. Are there ways we can do it better?
Tony McNulty
Immigration minister

The campaign by refugee and child welfare groups is being launched at Westminster on Tuesday.

"The purpose will be to get details from the children's commissioners and others about the nature of removals. Are there ways we can do it better?" Mr McNulty said.

There were a number of protests in Scotland last year against what critics described as the heavy-handed way in which immigration staff picked up the families of failed asylum seekers.

Protesters were particularly upset about the deportation of the Vucaj family, originally from Albania, who had lived in Glasgow for five years and were deported following dawn raids with father and son reportedly wearing handcuffs.

Mr McNulty said he did not dispute that the process of picking up families involved operating in the early morning, but said other "myths" needed to be dispelled.

"Yes, people do wear stab vests and other things for protection but we don't drag children from their beds, we don't send 20 people there when seven or eight will do."

But underneath the "mythology" were real issues to be addressed about "how we do what we do".

"Significant progress" had been made on increasing the number of failed asylum seekers on a 3,000 assistance scheme to encourage voluntary returns, he added.

UK-wide measures

The minister also praised Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell and the Scottish Executive for raising "a whole series of concerns" about the system which, in part, led to some of the reforms.

Mr McNulty criticised campaigners protesting in Glasgow on Monday for wrongly seeking to "offer hope where there is no hope".

Removals were a central part of "a robust asylum policy" and the idea that there should be no detention or removals was "crass and fundamentally dishonest", he said.

Peter Peacock, Scotland's minister for education and young people, praised the government for listening to the concerns of the Scottish Executive.

He also welcomed the fact that the measures would apply to the whole of the UK.

See the Glasgow protests which greeted the minister

'Asylum raid' meeting called off
07 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Protesters in 'asylum raid' demo
02 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Dawn asylum raids 'will continue'
16 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Asylum seeker treatment protest
01 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Protest over refugee dawn raids
17 Sep 05 |  Scotland

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