Legal action against UK Home Office over child asylum seekers

Lawyers have said the Home Office’s new policy of recruiting its own social workers to carry out age assessments on young people has led to them incorrectly being classed as adults. (AFP/File Photo)
Lawyers have said the Home Office’s new policy of recruiting its own social workers to carry out age assessments on young people has led to them incorrectly being classed as adults. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 20 March 2021

Legal action against UK Home Office over child asylum seekers

Lawyers have said the Home Office’s new policy of recruiting its own social workers to carry out age assessments on young people has led to them incorrectly being classed as adults. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Lawyers: Children being wrongly classed as adults, threatened with deportation

LONDON: Child asylum seekers in Britain have been placed in adult accommodation and threatened with deportation after wrongly being assessed to be adults by Home Office staff, it has emerged.

Lawyers have said the department’s new policy of recruiting its own social workers to carry out age assessments on young people has led to them incorrectly being classed as adults. Legal action has been opened against the Home Office on this policy.

Lawyers have said the department’s immigration officers have falsely assessed some children to be over 25 on arrival in Britain.

Over that age, asylum seekers do not undergo any age assessment and are in some cases placed in detention, facing removal from the country.

In October 2020, a Sudanese teenager was wrongly detained for over a month and threatened with deportation after being incorrectly judged to be an adult by Home Office immigration officers. The teenager was referred to children’s services after legal intervention. 

Placing children in adult services has been deemed an exploitation and safety risk by experts. “Placing these children in circumstances where they are clearly at increased risk of harm represents a significant breach of the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children,” said Naomi Jackson, of Social Workers without Borders.

In another recent case, a child was detained for four days and then moved to a hotel with other adults for over a month, before being moved to local authority care after a legal charity became involved.