Non-verbal black teenager who has never left UK detained at immigration center | Race


A woman has described how her 17-year-old black British son was found at an immigration detention center after going missing while being treated for psychosis.

The boy – who is non-verbal – disappeared from a hospital in Kent, where he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, on 7 April. Two days later, he was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) at Euston on suspicion of fare evasion, before being detained by Immigration Enforcement near Gatwick, despite being British.

“It’s just horrific,” the boy’s mother said. “Because he’s black they just assumed ‘let’s pick him and put him in a deportation centre’.”

When the boy was returned to the hospital, his clothes contained Home Office documents that incorrectly stated his name and date of birth, and recorded his nationality as Nigerian.

“How do they know he’s from Nigeria, when he doesn’t even speak to them?” the woman said of her son.

When the hospital became aware of his disappearance, the family, local police and BTP were notified, the woman said, and he was listed as a missing person.

It is unclear where the boy went in the days before his arrest. He is understood to have traveled to Manchester, where the family had previously lived, before trying to return to London without a phone, money or identification.

On the morning of 9 April, BTP said they were notified of a fare evader on board a London-bound train from Manchester. In a statement, BTP said the male provided a false name and date of birth, stating he was 20.

At Euston, he was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion and taken to police custody in Islington, according to BTP, where “officers were unable to engage with the male or verify the details provided despite their efforts, which included attending the address provided”. The boy’s fingerprints were then taken and he was detained by Immigration Enforcement.

Documents apparently prepared at the detention centre, and seen by the Guardian, incorrectly state his name and date of birth, and record his nationality as Nigerian. They describe him as a person who requires leave to enter or remain in the country, which he does not have. On one document, it states his removal from the UK was “imminent” as he had failed to give “satisfactory or reliable answers” ​​to immigration officers.

The boy is a British citizen and has never left the UK. His mother said he would not have been able to say his date of birth properly, and would never have said he was from Nigeria.

This week, a BTP commander told her that when they searched the Kent address the boy had provided, they discovered a Nigerian family living there. She was told that officers gathered the boy was from a Nigerian background as he had the same accent as the residents. She contested this statement, describing her son’s accent, when he does rarely speak, as Mancunian and London.

James Wilson, deputy director of Detention Action, which works with people facing removal, said unaccompanied minors or children under the age of 18 should not be in detention in the first place. “In theory detention should be an absolute last resort, rather than an early step you would go to,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We rely on information provided by our policing partners when an individual is referred to Immigration Enforcement. In this case, the individual declared himself to British Transport Police to be an adult male. Police nurses assessed him and raised no physical or mental health issues.”

The spokesperson said the individual gave no further information to Immigration Enforcement, and once his true identity had been established, he was returned into the care of mental health services.

BTP said they were reviewing the incident internally.

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