Government launches register for refugee children

A national register of unaccompanied asylum seeking children is
being launched by the government this week, writes
Shirley Kumar.

Information kept by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate
and local authorities looking after unaccompanied children would be
shared on one database, according to the plans.

“For the first time local authorities responsible for the
care of these vulnerable children will share information directly
with central government”, Association of Directors of Social
Services spokesperson Peter Gilroy said. 

A limited version of the national register will be launched in
January 2005. After testing the full version will be rolled out
nationwide in March.

Last year, 180 unaccompanied children aged 17 years or less
applied for asylum in the UK.

The database is expected to allow savings of £4.5 million
by 2006/7 in the cost of supporting unaccompanied children by
reducing reapplications at multiple local authorities.

Meanwhile, 12 children identified as possible victims of child
trafficking in Operation Paladin Child, a Metropolitan police-led
investigation, are still unaccounted for. A police spokesperson
said the investigation would continue.

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