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Former chief supt appointed head of enforced returns family welfare panel

Multi-agency body includes police, social care and education specialists
Published - 25/08/2020 By - Gary Mason

A former chief superintendent and Head of Public Protection at Nottinghamshire Police has been appointed permanent chair of the Independent Family Returns Panel (IFRP).

Helen Chamberlain was appointed interim chair in May 2020 and has been a member since August 2018.

The panel provides advice to the Home Office on the safeguarding and welfare needs of families with children who face an ensured return to their country of origin, as part of the family returns process.

The panel is made up of professionals with a range of relevant expertise across the professions of social care, education, police, medical doctors and psychiatry.

The Family Returns process encourages families who are at the end of their legal rights to remain in the UK, to return to their countries of origin voluntarily.

Where families fail to return voluntarily, they are required to return to their country of origin, and are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own self-check-in arrangements at the airport.

Families who fail to depart in this way are subject to an enforced return, which requires that the family be arrested and be subject to escorted travel arrangements both to the appropriate airport and during the flight. It is with required and enforced returns that the IFRP is concerned.

For the relatively small proportion of families who do not return to their country of origin voluntarily, there is a high rate of aborted removals due to families absconding, lodging further legal claims – the latter often for tactical disruption of the process rather than for substantive reasons that are upheld - or being disruptive at airports.

On her appointment Helen Chamberlain said: “We do a vital job in safeguarding children during a family’s return, and I look forward to continuing to provide advice on how best to ensure welfare needs are met.

The appointment follows the expiry of Paul Greenhalgh’s three year tenure as chair of the IFRP.

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