Looked-after Children - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents


Letter to the Chairman submitted by Katherine Hill, Parliamentary Adviser, The Children's Society

  At the recent oral evidence session held as part of the Looked After Children Inquiry, Lisa Nandy from the Refugee Children's Consortium undertook to write to the Committee members on a number of points. I am now writing on her behalf with this information.

  Before addressing the specific questions posed by the Committee it is important to make a general comment that the availability of data on unaccompanied children is on the whole very limited.

NUMBERS OF UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN SEEKING ASYLUM IN EDUCATION

  There are no official national figures for the total number of refugee children in school in the UK. To date, the only estimates have come from school refugee surveys and these include unaccompanied children and children in families.

  In 2003, the Refugee Council estimated that there were 98, 929 refugee children in UK schools, of which about 65% were in London. (Rutter, J. Refugee children and social policy. Open University Press, 2005).

  In July 2001 the Refugee Council estimated that there were at least 2,100 refugee children out of school in Greater London (Refugee Council, Daring to Dream, Raising the achievement of 14-16 year old asylum seeking and refugee children and young people, 2005).

NUMBERS OF UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN SEEKING ASYLUM WHO GO ON TO HIGHER EDUCATION

  These figures do not exist on a national basis but are in some instances available at local authority level. One example for illustrative purposes is Hillingdon, which states that 14% of its UASC (unaccompanied asylum seeking children) care leavers go on to higher education. (London Borough of Hillingdon, Retrospective Equality Impact Assessment (EIA), 2008, http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/media/pdf/e/8/reia__childrenfamilies2008.pdf, p.13)

NUMBERS OF UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN SEEKING ASYLUM IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW

  Again national figures are not collected. However, the crime reduction charity Nacro has published an informative fact sheet Youth Crime briefing: Refugee and asylum seeking children http://www.nacro.org.uk/data/resources/nacro-2007071202.pdf from which the information below is summarised.

  Contrary to common perceptions, there is a lack of evidence to suggest that children who are asylum seekers or refugees commit offences at a higher rate than the general population. In general, there is evidence that suggests that refugees and asylum seekers with children are concerned about the potentially harmful influence of the wider population who may be viewed as lacking discipline and supervision. See for example research findings in The Children's Society report Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the African refugee community in Newcastle published in 2006 available at www.thechildrenssociety.org.uk.

  There are some categories of offending that are more likely to apply such as documentation, illegal working and illegal entry. Some may not understand domestic law, for example with regard to the use of illegal drugs. A few are susceptible to gang related activities and to offending through economic necessity. See for example, Young refugees and asylum seekers in Greater London: vulnerability to problematic drug use, Greater London Authority, 2004, available at www.london.gov.uk. Those who are susceptible to exploitation may have to commit offences under duress.

STATISTICS ON NUMBERS OF TRAFFICKED CHILDREN WHO GO MISSING

  ECPAT UK's report Missing Out (2007) identified 80 suspected or confirmed child trafficking victims, 60% of whom had gone missing from local authority care.

July 2008





 
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