Ellie Ames 23 January 2024

More than 1,000 child refugees placed in adult accommodation

More than 1,000 child refugees placed in adult accommodation image
Image: refugeecouncil.org.uk

Child refugees arriving in the UK alone are exposed to harm and abuse in adult accommodation because of the Home Office’s flawed age assessment system, according to a new report.

Between January 2022 and June 2023, at least 1,300 refugee children were placed in adult accommodation and detention after being wrongly age assessed on arrival, according to the report by the Refugee Council, the Helen Bamber Foundation and Humans for Rights Network.

The report, entitled Forced Adulthood, says some children wrongly treated as adults have been charged with immigration offences under the Nationality and Borders Act, and 14 have spent time in adult prisons.

Data was obtained through Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities in England. Authors warned that because not all councils sent data, real numbers of refugee children in unsupervised adult accommodation are likely to be much higher.

Refugee Council CEO Enver Solomon said: ‘Hidden from view, very vulnerable child refugees are being exposed to harm and abuse as a result of inaccurate Home Office decision making.

‘Each case is a child who is being put at risk and whose welfare is being forgotten. It is an alarming child protection failure and the Government must take urgent action so every child is kept safe.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘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.’

The Home Office is strengthening its age assessment process, the spokesperson added.

They said: ‘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.’

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