Bournemouth and Southend among councils not using asylum register

Councils have apologised for failing to use a register aimed at improving the safety of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Community Care revealed two months ago that 11 councils in the UK had not signed up to the National Register for Unaccompanied Children (NRUC) a year after its launch. A freedom of information request has found that at least three of these councils have unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in their care.

Bournemouth Council, which has a small number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care and is one of the authorities on the list, apologised for not using the
register. A spokesperson said: “It was a regrettable oversight that we are not signed up and we are working to rectify it as soon as possible.”

Southend Council is also failing touse the register and has 20 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care. But Sue Cook, the council’s assistant director for specialist services, said the council was committed to using the register.

“We recognise the need for the national system but due to changes in staffing we have needed to re-register new employees in order to gain access to the NRUC,” she said.

More staff had “recently undertaken training and we are currently working on completing the necessary data inputting,” she added.

Hampshire Council, which was also on the list given to Community Care, said it had signed up to the register in the past four weeks.

Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes UK, said councils were increasing the
risk of children being trafficked by not using the register and trafficked children were often moved around.

Community Care is looking to verify whether there are other councils with responsibility for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children not using the register.

What does the register do?

  • The register is designed to provide better safeguards for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and to ensure continuity of care by allowing local authorities and central government to share information. 
  • Participation in the register is voluntary. Agencies involved in the project include the London Asylum Seekers Consortium, the Association of Directors of Social
    Services and the Home Office.

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