Asylum seeking children detained despite government assurances

    Around 2,000 asylum seeker children are detained with their
    families each year before they are deported, despite government
    assurances that this only happens as a last resort,
    writes Amy Taylor.

    A Save the Children report published today also found that
    increasing numbers of unaccompanied children are being detained on
    the assumption that they are adults, yet they are subsequently
    found to be under-18.

    Government policy states that unaccompanied children should not
    be detained for longer than overnight where arrangements need to be
    made for their care. The research goes on to raise child protection
    concerns for age-disputed children who are detained with adults in
    communal sleeping facilities.

    It adds that social services age assessments are not routinely
    undertaken and even when they are the Home Office does not always
    take them into account, contrary to stated policy.

    Many of the 32 children in the research were detained for more
    than a month and in some cases for as long as nine months.
    “The government says that detention affects a small number of
    children for a short time. Our research shows that there is clearly
    not true,” said Mike Aaronson, director general of Save the

    The charity has called for formal age assessment procedures to
    ensure that unaccompanied children are not detained and the
    introduction of a statutory time limit of a maximum of seven days
    to be placed on the detention of children.

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