THE UK Government has been accused of lacking basic humanity after it was revealed children are still being detained at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre – despite a ban on the practice.

The SNP has now demanded an immediate halt to the detention of both children and pregnant women after shocking figures exposed the detentions at the centre, which is described as a “prison in everything but name”.

The UK Government pledged to end the detention of children at Dungavel almost a decade ago but it has been revealed that 19 children and six pregnant women have been held at the privately-run detention centre since 2016.

The figures, obtained by an FOI request, also show that almost 3000 people have been held for more than 28 days.

Dungavel, which opened in South Lanarkshire in 2001, is operated by a US firm on behalf of the Home Office and holds almost 300 people detained under immigration laws before they are forced to leave the UK.

The centre has been mired in controversy – with reports that more than 200 detainees are considered at risk of self-harm, and asylum seekers being paid just £1 for an hour of work. Human rights organisations have also raised concerns over the safety of women and vulnerable detainees after a sharp rise in crime was reported at the centre.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “This is the harsh reality of the Tories ‘hostile environment’ – children and pregnant women held in what is effectively a private prison.

“The UK is the only country in the EU which has no cap on the length of time somebody can be detained under immigration powers. Innocent families, women and children shouldn’t be held like this for months on end, especially almost a decade after the Home Office promised to end the practice of detaining children.

“The UK Government must urgently stop detaining children and pregnant women at Dungavel – a facility entirely unsuitable for people in such a vulnerable position.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The routine detention of children for immigration purposes was supposed to end in 2010. For children to be detained in this manner at Dungavel almost a decade later is unacceptable.

“It is harmful to the health and wellbeing of both children and adults, as well as their ability to integrate into the community following release, and we will continue to press the UK Government to deliver more humane and flexible asylum and immigration systems.”