Policy on treatment of children in doubt

    About 2,000 asylum seeker children are detained with their
    families each year before they are deported, in contravention of
    policy.

    Research by Save the Children published this week also found that
    more unaccompanied children are being detained on the assumption
    that they are adults, yet they are subsequently found to be under
    18.

    The government’s policy stipulates that unaccompanied children
    should not be detained for longer than overnight where arrangements
    need to be made for their care.

    The Save the Children 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
    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
    Children.

    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.

    • No Place for a Child from: www.savethechildren.org.uk

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