Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are being put at risk because a number of councils are failing to use a national register designed to improve their safety, campaigners warned this week.
Community Care has learned that 11 councils that look after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have not signed up to the National Register for Unaccompanied Children, (NRUC), a year after it launched.
Seventy-three councils have fully signed up to the register, while 50 are working towards using it, but 11 are not involved at all.
The register is designed to provide better safeguards for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and ensure continuity of care by allowing local authorities and central government to share information.
Judith Dennis, policy advisor for unaccompanied children at the Refugee Council, said it was “disappointing” that some councils were not using the register and that this would reduce its effectiveness.
“Without accurate information, the register will not be able to achieve one of its main aims – improving the safety of children and young people,” she said.
“These are children whose parents are not around to protect them, so all mechanisms that are there to look after their welfare need to be rigorously maintained.”
Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes UK, said the councils were increasing the risk of children being trafficked.
“The register is the tool for all partners to register where children are in their area and to know when they are moving away,” she said.
“Children particularly at risk are the children moving outside their area. We know with trafficked children that they are moved from one part of the country to another.”
An NRUC spokesperson said: “We have had great success with local authorities that have large populations of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
“But a small number are not working with us. Clearly we would encourage them to sign up to the NRUC project as this has been set up to offer better protection for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK.”
Do you know of a council that has not signed up to the register? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org