UKBA backs down under pressure
Posted: 5 March 2013 by Rob Dabrowski
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has reinstated a policy on its website saying that force must not be used against pregnant women and children.
It had previously taken down the policy, but it was reinstated just before the issue was due to be heard in the high court.
The agency faced campaigning and a legal challenge, which included evidence and pressure from the RCM.
At the final hour, the policy, which says force must not be used against pregnant women and children except to prevent harm, went back online.
Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, welcomed the reinstatement of the policy.
‘The RCM believe that the UKBA should not have rescinded its previous policy guidance,’ she said. ‘We are pleased that it has now reinstated the policy.
‘We believe that pregnant women in any environment within the criminal justice system must no longer be restrained or handcuffed, except in a situation where she poses a risk to herself, or her unborn child or if her life is clearly in danger.
‘Restraining a pregnant woman is harmful, and because pregnant women have a broad range of vulnerabilities and restraining them can result in miscarriage, premature labour, stillbirth or trigger a serious illness.’
She continued: ‘The RCM believes the restraint of pregnant women and children is an outmoded and antiquated practice that shames us all.
‘Midwives must serve all mothers and babies regardless of their immigration status.’
Jon Skewes, RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications, added: ‘I think that this shows the worth of the RCM, leading a campaign including the possibility of a legal challenge in order to pressure the UKBA to respect the rights of pregnant women.’
A UKBA spokesperson said any movement of asylum seekers only takes place if it is ‘safe and practical to do so’.