Child asylum seekers classed as adults
Hundreds of lone children seeking asylum in the UK are being wrongly categorised as adults and handed new dates of birth by Border Force within minutes.
Some are then being placed in adult detention centres, while others face deportation to Rwanda.
The shocking new revelations were made by the I, after working with Care4Calais on the investigation.
Case records and local authority data show that hundreds of children are being wrongly assessed as adults at the border and later confirmed to be children.
Officials have been accused of changing dates of birth based solely on an initial visual assessment, often lasting just minutes, shortly after the asylum seekers arrive on UK shores, despite the fact some have ID documents showing they are under 18.
This is a pressing and deeply disturbing problem. Care4Calais has supported 959 clients in age disputes since October 2021 and we continue to receive “daily referrals” for age disputed asylum seekers.
We dealt with one Afghan asylum seeker who arrived with documents showing that he was born in 2007, but the Home Office recorded this as 1998, making him a decade older.
Steve Smith, our chief executive said: “The Home Office is assessing child refugees’ ages on arrival, and even when some of our clients provide ID, including their original birth certificate, they are not immediately overturning their inaccurate age assessment.
This disturbing practice is happening far too often and it illustrates a dysfunctional system that doesn’t have the needs of the child at its heart.”
Mr Smith warned that “incorrectly labelling a child refugee an adult places them at risk of harm and neglect. It means placing them in accommodation with adults they don’t know, denying them their right to education and medical support, and could even result in them being placed in detention or processed in a centre such as Manston.”
We estimate one in four of the arrivals we support who claim to be wrongly classed as adults arrived in the UK with a form of ID showing that they were children, or could access the ID during the asylum process.
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