Eleven councils snub register to aid safety of asylum-seeking children

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are being put at risk because some councils are failing to use a national register intended to improve their safety, campaigners warned this week.

Community Care has learned that 11 councils in the UK that look after this group of children have yet to sign up to the National Register for Unaccompanied Children (NRUC), a year after it launched (Register open to refugee groups).

Seventy-three councils have fully signed up to the register, while 50 are working towards using it.

The register is designed to provide better safeguards for the children and ensure continuity of care by allowing local authorities and central government to share information.

Judith Dennis, policy adviser 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 (pictured), 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.

“Children particularly at risk are those 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 as this has been set up to offer better protection for the children.”

Do you know of a council that has not signed up to the register? If so, contact amy.taylor@rbi.co.uk

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