Dear Charles Clarke,
I call on you to stop locking up more than 2,000 babies and children in immigration detention centres every year.
The Home Office currently allows children to be held for long periods of time in immigration detention - children have been held from seven up to 268 days according to evidence gathered by members of the No Place for a Child coalition.
Detaining children is wrong - regardless of the merits of a family's asylum case - and has a damaging effect on their education, health and well-being. It is also contrary to international human rights standards and serious concerns about the detention of children have already been raised by all four Children's Commissioners, Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons and the European Commissioner for Human Rights.
Last year the UK government locked up over 2000 children - not for committing any crime, but simply for bureaucratic convenience as a part of the asylum process. The decision is taken by an immigration official and without any judicial intervention.
These children aren't told how long they will be detained - it could be weeks or even many months. One third are detained for at least seven days.
Detention is traumatic for any child they feel they are being punished and they don't know why. Many of them have come to the UK to escape terror from state officials in their own country. There's plenty of evidence that the effects of detention are extremely damaging.
The Refugee Council has joined with Save The Children and Bail for Immigration Detainees to fight to stop children being detained. As we launch the campaign today, we need you to take 2 simple and quick steps now - log onto our special campaign website: noplaceforachild.org.uk
Our message to the Government is simple: it's wrong to lock up children. As the campaign develops, we will be talking to them about better ways to manage families going through the asylum process - but right now they need to hear loud and clear from you that it's time to stop detaining children.