The head of children’s services at the London Borough of Hillingdon has rejected claims by the children’s commissioner for England that unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) are not being “adequately protected”.
Sir Al Aynsley-Green (right) said he had “considerable concerns” after a review of care arrangements and safeguarding practice at Hillingdon, which was published today, found failures in compliance with legislation.
He made several recommendations about how to address the problems at Hillingdon, which deals with high numbers of UASC because of its proximity to Heathrow Airport.
But Julian Wooster, head of children’s services at the council, described the review as “flawed and inaccurate” and said it was meeting all of its statutory requirements set out in national legislation and guidance. He said the recommendations failed to help take services forward.
The review found that in 22 cases young asylum seekers did not receive adequate care or sufficient access to health and education services, in line with the Children Act 1989 and other regulations.
Aynsley-Green, said: “Local authorities have a duty of care towards all children looked after by them, regardless of their background. Their best interests must be the paramount consideration and practices that do not reflect this need to be confronted and challenged. We hope that the Children and Young Person’s Bill, currently before parliament, will address some of the key issues we raise in this report.”
The review, published today, was instigated in January 2007 when the commissioner learned that Hillingdon was moving UASC from looked-after status to the leaving-care system soon after a child turned 16 or, for those aged 16 or above, within 13 weeks of entering the care system. In response, the council agreed to stop the policy a month later.
The council will publish a detailed response to the commissioner’s review in the near future.