Independent Family Returns Panel
This section describes the work of the Independent Family Returns Panel.
The purpose of the panel is to provide independent advice to the Home Office on the method of removal from the UK of individual families when an ensured return is necessary. The advice provided by the panel will help to ensure that individual return plans take full account of the welfare of the children involved and that the Home Office fulfils its responsibilities under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.
The panel publishes an annual report on the advice it has given, including information on any cases where the method of return differed from that advised by the panel.
It also considers the overall handling of families who are denied entry to the UK at the border to assess whether detention in such cases is being kept to a minimum.
The panel includes an independent chair and other members with safeguarding and medical expertise.
Decisions about whether a family should be removed from the UK rest with the Home Office and the independent courts. It is not a function of the panel to endorse or reconsider these decisions.
The panel has an independent chair and a pool of 9 members who have experience of safeguarding and medical expertise.
- Chris Spencer (chair), former Director of Children's Services at Hillingdon borough council. He is also a senior member of the Association of Directors of Children's Services and a trained child psychologist. He has a long association with child welfare issues.
- Dr Robin Basu, former Medical Director and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in the NHS.
- Dr Stephanie Green, a Port Medical Officer for 11 years at Heathrow airport, advising on the health of new entrants to the UK, including those seeking asylum. Consulting Doctor for Marie Stopes International and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
- Philip Ishola, former lead officer for counter child-trafficking and head of Immigration and Asylum at Harrow Children's Services.
- Dr John Keen, a GP in Chiswick since 1988. He is also chair of the Research Ethics Committee in both Central London and Brent and Medical Adviser (Housing) to several local authorities in London and elsewhere.
- Bernard Phillips, former head teacher of an inner city comprehensive school for 19 years. He has extensive experience in community cohesion work and currently acts as an adviser to a Free School in Oldham and a Studio School in Manchester.
- Sir Roger Singleton, former chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). He has a background in education, children's services, policy and management and is the former chief executive of Barnardo's.
- Geoff Sloan, retired Detective Superintendent with Merseyside police who, as Operations Commander for the Wirral Division, was head of the Family Support Unit and a member of the area's Child Protection Committee.
- Prospera Tedam, a senior lecturer and programme leader for the undergraduate degree in social work at the University of Northampton who previously worked in the private and statutory sectors as a social work practitioner and manager.
- Lorna Tull-Griffith, a trainer and consultant who has worked with children and young people for 30 years and was previously a head of service in a large local authority.