Asylum seeking children detained despite government assurances

Around 2,000 asylum seeker children are detained with their
families each year before they are deported, despite government
assurances that this only happens as a last resort,
writes Amy Taylor.

A Save the Children report published today also found that
increasing numbers of unaccompanied children are being detained on
the assumption that they are adults, yet they are subsequently
found to be under-18.

Government policy states that unaccompanied children should not
be detained for longer than overnight where arrangements need to be
made for their care. The research goes on to raise child protection
concerns for age-disputed children who are detained with adults in
communal sleeping facilities.

It adds that social services age assessments are not routinely
undertaken and even when they are the Home Office does not always
take them into account, contrary to stated policy.

Many of the 32 children in the research were detained for more
than a month and in some cases for as long as nine months.
“The government says that detention affects a small number of
children for a short time. Our research shows that there is clearly
not true,” said Mike Aaronson, director general of Save the

The charity has called for formal age assessment procedures to
ensure that unaccompanied children are not detained and the
introduction of a statutory time limit of a maximum of seven days
to be placed on the detention of children.

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