Kent Council has criticised the government’s asylum policy and
the operation of the National Asylum Support Service (Nass), saying
the needs of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum are being
The council wants to see a fairer and faster system that does
not disadvantage genuine asylum-seekers or put undue pressure on
the south-east of England.
It has called for greater security and surveillance at ports, a
faster appeals system, clarification of the government’s
repatriation policy and help from the European Refugee Fund, which
recently rejected a £1 million bid from local community groups
London and the south east have borne the brunt of the rise in
asylum applications in recent years, with Kent alone being
responsible for 6,000 asylum-seekers who arrived before Nass took
charge of new arrivals in April 2000. The council has over 1,000
unaccompanied minors – the highest caseload in the country – with
100 new cases arriving each month.
“We have also been told that Nass has now decided it will not
take over the support of the unaccompanied minors when they reach
18 if they arrived before April 2000,” said council leader Sandy
Peter Gilroy, director of Kent’s social services and joint lead
on asylum-seekers for the Association of Directors of Social
Services, said: “We’ve got to have a clear statement about the
underlying conflict between the Immigration Act and the Children
Act 1989. We need to go back to first principles about under-18s.
Young people are not a priority and that needs to change.”
Kent has put forward proposals to the Department of Health to
cope with the potential rise in young asylum-seekers from an
expanding European Union, including a “dowry” system where the
money goes with the child.
The council has also called for the national application of its
smart card for young asylum-seekers. The card contains personal
data which are used to fast-track the holder into a range of