Concerns over staff training on minors

The Home Office is struggling to meet a long-standing target to train immigration staff at UK ports on how to interview unaccompanied minors entering the country.

The department aims to have trained 10 per cent of all immigration officials and border control workers – a total of about 600 people – by the end of March.

But only 454 have received specialist training on interviewing under-18s since it was introduced more than two years ago.

However, the department insisted this week that it would meet the target and said it was holding five more training courses up to March.

The department was “certainly not rushing through” the five three-day training courses in an effort to meet the target, a spokesperson said.

Christine Beddoe, director of Ecpat UK, a consortium of nine children’s charities campaigning to end child trafficking, called for the government to develop a national strategy to ensure a co-ordinated multi-agency approach.

The effective training of border control staff would be an important component of this, she added.

Before November 2003 there was no specific training for immigration staff on how they should interview children and young people, including unaccompanied minors, entering the UK.

Beddoe also said the government should pay more attention to regional ports of entry.

She claimed that anecdotal evidence suggested there had been an increase in the number of children being trafficked through airports outside of London, such as Stansted, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.

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