Immigrant Children Sharing Dangerous Accommodation With Adults After Major Home Office Blunder

A report titled “Forced Adulthood” showed the alarming number of incorrect age assessments conducted by the Home Office, revealing that at least 1,300 children were wrongly classified as adults over 18 months, putting them in danger.

Flawed Assessments and Dire Consequences

A recently released report by the Refugee Council, the Helen Bamber Foundation, and the Humans for Rights Network has revealed issues within the UK’s immigration system. These wrongly created age assessments mean that the affected children could be in danger from the adults that they share rooms with.

Incorrectly deemed adults, some have been placed in adult jails, hotels for adult asylum seekers or immigration removal centres.

Between January and June 2023, 69 local authorities received 1,004 referrals to children’s services regarding young people placed in adult accommodation or detained. It was revealed in the report that more than half of the 847 children age-assessed by social workers were found to be wrongly housed with adults or detained.

There is now a huge concern about the lack of safeguards for children as young as 14, who have been forced to share rooms with unrelated adults. Many of these 14-year-olds, according to the report, even spent time in adult prisons after being charged with immigration offences under the Nationality and Borders Act. 

Failures of 2022

The Refugee Council’s Age Dispute Project helped to assist 185 children who were initially determined to be adults. Disturbing incidents in 2022 included a child being stabbed after being placed in a hotel for adult asylum seekers and another being sexually assaulted by an unrelated adult.

The report argued that if children are wrongly classified as adults, they are at risk of “suicidal ideation and absconding.”

“We have assisted hundreds of children who have been wrongly placed in adult asylum hotels and adult prisons. Most alarmingly, this includes 14 children who have spent up to seven months in adult prisons sharing cells with adult males.

These children are terrified and continue to be profoundly affected by this experience of wrongful criminalisation,” said the director of the Human for Rights Network.

Leaders in the field are urging the Home Office to reevaluate its approach to age assessments. Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, spoke about the urgent need for government intervention, stating, “Hidden from view, very vulnerable child refugees are being exposed to harm and abuse as a result of inaccurate Home Office decision-making.”

Real-Life Impact on Children

Real-life accounts from affected children paint a grim picture of the consequences of faulty age assessments. A 16-year-old girl, initially dismissed as lying about her age, recounted her experience: “When I said my age, they said to me you are lying… she said because you arrive by boat, you must know what you are doing, therefore you are over 18.”

Kamena Dorling, director of policy at the Helen Bamber Foundation, stated: “These new figures show that there continues to be something fundamentally wrong with Home Office decision-making at the border, and hundreds of children are suffering as a result.”

One spokesperson for the Home Office claimed that “Age assessments can be challenging and there is no single method which can determine a person’s age with precision,” and admitted, “Many individuals arriving in the UK who claim to be children often don’t have clear evidence like an original passport or identity document to back this up.”

They admitted the Home Office are “strengthening our age assessment process, including establishing the National Age Assessment Board and specifying scientific methods of age assessments. Measures under the Illegal Migration Act will ensure the swift removal of individuals who have been assessed as adults and who have no right to remain in the UK.”

After the report, it’s clear that the Home Office has no choice but to initiate a major reform in their age-determining process for immigrant children, otherwise they face a huge backlash from politicians and the public.

The post Immigrant Children Sharing Dangerous Accommodation With Adults After Major Home Office Blunder first appeared on Pulse365 Limited

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / dinosmichail.

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