Despite Home Office claims that immigration
procedures for notifying social services of the arrival of child
asylum seekers are “well-developed”, lack of information often
means these children cannot be traced.
Under current arrangements, unaccompanied
child asylum seekers who arrive in the UK are referred to the
Refugee Council’s children’s panel for support, Home Office
immigration service deputy director Paul Morgan told the Victoria
Climbi‚ Inquiry. This included notifying social services and
other relevant agencies of their arrival, he said.
But he admitted that the charity’s job was
made difficult by the “scant details” obtained from many
unaccompanied minors reluctant to speak to immigration
He also acknowledged that there was no
obligation on the immigration service to notify social services or
health departments of the arrival of children who were part of
asylum-seeking families or were European Union nationals.
Manchester-based voluntary sector youth and
community worker Andy McCullough criticised the system for placing
more emphasis on the refugee status of these children than whether
or not they were at risk or in need of protection.
Duty assessment team manager for Birmingham
social services department Robina Khan said her department knew of
only some of the asylum seekers’ children and unaccompanied minors
in the city, and that she doubted all of them were benefiting from
“universal services” like health and education.