4 Protecting unaccompanied migrant
66. The asylum and immigration process is a crucial
first point of contact for unaccompanied migrant children. It
is therefore essential that the system ensures that their best
interests are properly taken into account throughout.
67. When an unaccompanied migrant child comes into
contact with authorities in the United Kingdom, the first step
is to process the child in order to enter them formally into the
asylum and immigration system. This process is called screening.
Travel documents are checked, details logged and a short interview
is conducted about the application being made. It should be noted
that not all unaccompanied migrant children come into contact
with the authorities and their presence and situation in the UK
may be unknown.
68. Where it is accepted that an applicant is under
18 years of age and therefore a child, he or she will be referred
to the relevant local authority for accommodation and support
while an application for asylum or other leave is being considered.
If the age of an applicant is disputed, he or she will be referred
to a local authority social services department for an age assessment
to be undertaken (see paragraph 79). If it is considered that
the applicant is significantly over 18 years of age, he or she
is not directed to a local authority but is instead treated as
an adult for the purposes of determining the claim for asylum
and providing support. Those adjudged to be adults are liable
for a process of fast-track detention, where immigration officials
decide that an application can be dealt with quickly and the individual
is suitable for detention in the interim.
69. The Minister insisted that the process was clear.
He said that, after being screened, children were then given a
delay of four days to recover from their journey before any substantive
information-gathering was conducted.
The Government was clear that "no questions relating to the
basis of the claim" were to be asked during screening.
70. But there was widespread concern as to how the
screening process worked in practice. Alison Harvey, General Secretary
of ILPA, expressed "grave concerns" about screening,
saying that it was "aiming to do far too much" and was
a "disastrous model doomed to failure".
The Refugee Council thought that having such procedures at the
very outset was "very detrimental to children".
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
called screening facilities "totally inadequate", and
said they were not "young person friendly".
Baljeet Sandhu, of the Migrant and Refugee Children's Legal Centre
at the Islington Law Centre, suggested that the screening process
could often be "very frightening".
71. There were also more general concerns about the
efficacy of the information-gathering process as a whole. The
Refugee Council and ILPA raised concerns about delays and administrative
backlogs. It was
also suggested that the answers given during screening were later
used to damage the credibility of an asylum claim.
A particular theme in evidence related to the adequacy and availability
of interpreting facilities, and their impact on children's abilities
to articulate their concerns.
Barnardo's suggested that interpreters often lacked experience
of the asylum process generally, and of working with children
while the Law Centre (Northern Ireland) said that delays
were common in securing interpreting services.
72. There was also a sense that information-gathering
failed to give sufficient regard to the age and status of the
child, in terms of the length of interviews, and the techniques
and reasoning employed during questioning.
Ilona Pinter, Policy Adviser on Young Refugees and Migrants at
the Children's Society, said that "minimal adaptations"
were made for children".
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
agreed that there was a need for a more "young person friendly"
noted that the system as a whole was "incomprehensible to
most adults [...] It is unsurprising that it vexes these children
as well". The
Children's Commissioner for England agreed with these concerns,
and noted that making changes in this respect "cannot just
be at the point of entry".
73. The Minister acknowledged that there were "bound
to be cases in which people do not do as the policy sets out",
but he did not believe that there was a "systemic problem",
or that difficulties with screening and information-gathering
74. We are grateful for the work of the Office of
the Children's Commissioner for England in this area, particularly
in relation to screening. Its two reports, Landing in Dover
and Landing in Kent,
provide a clear window into some of the problems that are faced
by children when they first enter the country, often after traumatic
experiences on the way.
75. Those reports, and evidence to this inquiry,
make clear that there is an insufficient focus on the needs of
children when gathering information about them during the asylum
and immigration process. This begins with screening, but the concerns
we heard addressed the system more widely, including the substantive
process of interviewing children and assessing their claims.
76. The gathering of substantive information on a
child's claim for asylum or other protection should come well
after the screening process, to allow children to be settled and
to articulate their views properly. Guidance distinguishes clearly
between the two stages of the process, but our evidence indicates
that screening too often blurs into wider information-gathering.
This must change, to bring children's best interests to the fore.
77. A new asylum and immigration process introduced
in April 2013 reformed how the system operates. The system will
now operate on a hub model nationally, and will seek to focus
on priority cases more quickly.
It remains to be seen how these changes will work in practice,
but the Coram Children's Legal Centre expressed concern that the
changes would "undermine the idea of a child-focused determination".
We will remain alert to how the system operates, but note that
there is simply too little evidence to draw any conclusions at
this stage. We urge the Government to work hard to ensure that
this new system adheres to the model we have outlined above.
78. The Government should ensure that there is
a clear focus on welfare needs aw well as immigration control
when gathering information from unaccompanied migrant children
relating to an asylum claim. There should be a clear and well-understood
distinction between the screening process and substantive information-gathering.
Screening a child should be expressly limited to gathering biographical
and biometric data at the outset of a claim, while gathering information
with which to assess a claim should begin only when children are
settled and supported. Furthermore, children should be provided
with proper access to interpreting facilities and rest periods,
and should be engaged with in a way that takes proper account
of their age, status and background.
79. The assessment of an applicant's age has, over
recent years, become increasingly prominent in the asylum and
immigration process. The correct assessment of an applicant who
is under 18 years of age is necessary to ensure that the United
Kingdom upholds its domestic and international obligations to
those who are children. If assessed incorrectly, children could
be accommodated inappropriately, supported insufficiently, and
be placed at risk of harm, detention and deportation.
80. The age of an applicant is assessed in various
ways. In the first instance the immigration authorities will take
an initial view as to whether an individual is under 18 years
of age when the asylum claim is made. The Government insisted
that where a person claimed to be below the age of 18 in those
circumstances, the benefit of the doubt was given unless two agency
officers of sufficient grade concluded that the individual's physical
appearance or demeanour "very strongly suggests that they
are significantly over 18", or there was credible documentary
evidence to that effect. It indicated that no person would be
detained when claiming to be a child unless one or other condition
81. Where this is not the case, a referral will be
made to a local authority in order that a full age assessment
can be conducted in line with the duties established in R (B)
v London Borough of Merton, which set out that local authorities
must assess age where an individual may be a young person entitled
to support under the Children Act 1989. According to the conditions
laid down in that case, such assessments, conducted by two social
workers, should be comprehensive, clear and fair.
The Government noted that it would usually accept the findings
of such a determination, and if not that it would seek to reach
consensus with the local authority by sharing relevant information.
82. Where an applicant disagrees with the assessment
made by a local authority, he or she can seek judicial review
of the decision, and the court's determination of age binds both
parties. The Government
indicated that it would also respect a determination by an immigration
judge, unless compelling evidence to the contrary had emerged
since the judgment and had not been the subject of direct adjudication.
AGE DISPUTE DATA
83. Over the last five years, age was disputed in
around 30% of cases of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children presenting
a claim. The overall number of cases where age is disputed has
fallen, and there has also been a fall in the proportion of cases
where age is disputed (See Table 1).
Table 1: Age dispute figures in the last five
Source: Home Office immigration statistics
|Year||Asylum applications from unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
||Age dispute cases
||Percentage of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children whose age is disputed after an asylum application
84. There was a widespread view that the data available were insufficient.
The Children's Commissioner for England noted that the immigration
authorities were not recording cases for those considered to be
"significantly" above 18, as a result of a policy change
in 2007, though
the UK Children's Commissioners noted an "encouraging communication"
regarding a possible pilot of more detailed data recording by
the immigration authorities.
85. The Coram Children's Legal Centre noted that
the immigration authorities did not "publicly report on all
cases where age is disputed", while there were "limited
alternative sources of information".
It was particularly concerned with the lack of clarity around
cases of individuals whose age was disputed being detained as
adults. The Refugee
Children's Consortium also noted that there were no means to monitor
cases as they progressed through the system.
The UK Children's Commissioners insisted that effective, disaggregated
data was required, including outcome data.
86. The Government said that it had "no reason
to believe" that the fall in case numbers was because of
recording failures, a point echoed by Philip Ishola of the Association
of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) and Croydon Council.
However, the Government was considering undertaking a formal assessment
of compliance with the requirement to record age dispute cases.
87. The case for providing comprehensive, robust
and transparent data is absolutely clear. It is only by doing
so that policy and practice can be properly examined, and issues
identified. We therefore endorse the call for full, disaggregated
statistics to be provided for all age dispute cases, to enable
cases to be tracked through the system.
88. We recommend that the Government should record
and publish statistics of all those who claim to be children whose
age is disputed. This should include, but not be limited to:
number of asylum applicants who claim to be children but who are
treated as adults by the immigration authorities on the ground
that their appearance or demeanour very strongly suggest that
they are significantly over 18;
The number of cases where an individual
claiming to be a child is placed in immigration detention, and
any subsequent action in relation to those cases;
The number of cases in which age is
assessed by local authorities, and, in such cases, how many children
are determined to be adults and how many are determined to be
The number of cases that are challenged
by judicial review, and the number of such challenges that are
89. These statistics should be disaggregated to
allow scrutiny of the gender and nationality of all cases. Local
authorities should also be required to produce statistics for
any cases where those requesting support and claiming to be children
emerge outside of the usual asylum and immigration processes.
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AGE ASSESSMENT
90. Regardless of the quality of the data, it is
important that the process of assessing age is accurate and sensitive
to the needs of children. Witnesses suggested that there was a
strong "culture of disbelief" in the process.
Asylum Aid said that immigration authorities seemed "to dispute
the age of child applicants as a matter of default".
The Refugee Council said that this meant there were "hundreds
of children going through unnecessary assessments about their
Children's Society thought that the culture of disbelief put children
at risk of harm and exploitation, and failed to pay heed to the
best interests of the child.
Indeed, ECPAT thought the act of disbelief itself had consequences
for the mental health of unaccompanied children.
91. The Office of the Children's Commissioner for
England was particularly vociferous, noting that disputes between
immigration authorities and local authorities over age had a serious
impact on the support available to children.
Dost said that much of the current process was "really quite
meaningless and a massive waste of resources", as cases were
often about the specific age of a child who was recognised as
below the age of 18 in any case.
ECPAT said there was an "over-reliance on physical appearance
and credibility as indicators of age".
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons expressed particular concern
about the use of the appearance-based test by immigration authorities,
which it did not consider "sufficiently robust", particularly
as detention could result from a negative determination.
92. Some witnesses considered there to be a potential
conflict of interest in the process, as local authorities were
responsible for assessments and were also liable for the costs
of those determined to be children as a result.
There was therefore a concern that funding pressures could be
incentivising local authorities to assess children either as adults,
or as older than would otherwise be the case. Some also noted
that local authority grant funding arrangements, which rely on
age assessments being conducted within 21 days, provided an unhelpful
incentive to complete age assessments too quickly.
The Children's Commissioner for England also expressed concern
over the level of training given to those staff carrying out the
This reflected the view of many witnesses that the age assessment
process varied inconsistently between local authorities, and indeed
immigration authorities, due to a lack of statutory guidance.
93. Many witnesses called for those claiming to be
less than 18 years of age to be given the benefit of the doubt
more regularly, as part of a more sensitive process with clear
guidelines for practitioners and the courts to that effect.
The Refugee Council thought that a more sensitive determination
process, with multi-disciplinary input, would "take an awful
lot of heat out of this, and save a lot of time and money".
94. There was also a widespread call for more independence
in the process. Some, including the UNHCR, insisted that age assessments
should at least be kept separate from the asylum process.
Others called for an entirely independent process. Vaughan Jones,
Chief Executive of the voluntary organisation Praxis Community
Projects (Praxis) said it was "pretty obvious" that
there should be a single age assessment process, undertaken by
an independent organisation.
The Refugee Council thought a regional assessment centre
model would be a "very good approach".
The Office of the Children's Commissioner for England thought
that an independent panel might provide a "more transparent,
fairer process for assessing age", although it acknowledged
that it may be "too costly to establish in the current financial
95. Some witnesses opposed such fundamental reform.
Dost feared that a large multi-agency panel could be intimidating
ILPA was "anxious" not to "build an institution
that then demanded a throughput of children".
Kent County Council said any proposal for a multi-agency approach
would need "careful consideration to ascertain what the additional
partners would bring to the process and which agencies would be
96. There was, however, strong support for greater
multi-agency involvement in the existing process. The Children's
Society thought a "multi-agency approach, whereby social
workers, paediatricians, support workers, teachers and all those
who are involved in the child's life can contribute, is really
the best approach".
97. The Minister noted the practical difficulty of
assessing age: "it is not a science, it is an art".
However, the Government said that careful decisions were reached
following consideration of all available evidence, and it was
keen to examine and continuously improve the process. The Minister
highlighted in that context proposals from the Royal College of
Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to involve paediatricians
in age assessments.
The RCPCH said that such guidance would allow the "vitally
important" skills of paediatricians to contribute to a more
multi-agency approach, but noted it had not yet been supported
with Government funding.
98. Our predecessor Committee expressed significant
concerns regarding the process of assessing age.
It was not convinced that the benefit of the doubt was being
given often enough. It wanted to see the age assessment process
reformed to ensure that it was robust and considered a wide range
of evidence, with the caveat that such evidence should not include
x-rays. It also wanted to ensure more training for those involved
in age assessments, and to prevent the detention of those claiming
to be children.
99. We note with disappointment that many of these
recommendations made in 2007 and 2009 remain unfulfilled. The
"culture of disbelief" remains of concern, there is
still too little input from relevant professionals, and the potential
for inconsistency persists. Furthermore, there remains a continuing
risk of detention for those claiming to be children, despite the
Government's commitment to end child detention. Improving the
process of age assessments is therefore of paramount importance,
especially given the inertia since our predecessor Committee's
100. Those whose ages are disputed should be given
the benefit of the doubt unless there are compelling factors to
the contrary. Doing so could save significant sums of moneybetween
April 2011 and the end of 2012, Croydon Borough Council spent
£1.6m on legal costs related to age assessmentswhich
could be better spent providing effective support to children,
particularly where disputes pertain to those who would be recognised
by both parties as below the age of 18. This is particularly important
where those whose age is disputed are at risk of detention or
The risks of treating a child as an adult in such circumstances
far outweigh the risks and costs of giving the benefit of the
doubt to a person later assessed to be an adult.
101. We agree that the solution is not a new system
of independent age assessment panels, especially as such a system
could encourage a high caseload to justify its existence. It would
be more effective and realistic to seek change within the existing
framework. To do so, the Government should work to develop good
practice in local authorities. Some local authorities and the
Association of Directors' of Children's Services have already
worked to produce informal guides to case law and practice, but
these are insufficient to drive truly consistent approaches. Clear
guidance issued by the Government, would provide a strong steer
towards a more effective system.
Guidance could also draw upon the Separated Children in Europe
Statement of Good Practice.
102. Any guidance produced to assist local authorities
in the complex and difficult process should insist upon the involvement
of a far more diverse range of professionals than at present.
Local authority professionals should be trained to play a central
role (see para x), but expert assistance should be welcomed as
a means to ensure the process is more robust. Supporting the proposals
from the RCPCH could be a starting point. Not only would more
widespread input improve the accuracy of the process, it may also
discourage expensive litigation. Guidance should make clear that
x-rays should play no part in assessing the age of a child.
103. We recommend that the Government work alongside
the Association of Directors of Children's Services to develop
a clear set of statutory guidelines for assessing the age of unaccompanied
migrant children. This guidance should make clear that young people
should be given the benefit of the doubt unless there are compelling
grounds to discount their claim. It should also make clear that
any person who claims to be a child whose age is disputed and
who is to be assessed by local authorities or in judicial review
proceedings is not to be made eligible for fast-track removal
from the United Kingdom. Guidance should also ensure that examinations
are never forced, nor culturally inappropriate, and always pursue
the least invasive option for assessment.
104. As part of developing age assessment guidance,
the Government should evaluate how to incorporate a greater range
of expert input into the process. In particular, the Government
should commission the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health
to develop guidelines for a stronger contribution from paediatric
consultants in assessing age.
105. We see no reason to depart from our predecessor
Committee's view that x-rays should not be used in assessing
106. Considering the best interests of unaccompanied
migrant children requires an effective framework for making decisions
on their future, so as to allow children to develop to their maximum
potential, as called for under Article 6 of the UNCRC. The UN
Committee on the Rights of the Child stresses that the plans made
for children must be "durable"sustainable, giving
protection from harm and meeting the needs of the UNCRC.
107. Children who arrive unaccompanied into the United
Kingdom and who claim asylum are first subject to a decision as
to whether to grant refugee status or another form of humanitarian
protection. If protection is granted, then the child has leave
to remain in the country by virtue of that status. If the claim
is refused, and there are no suitable reception arrangements in
the country of origin, then a period of discretionary leave will
be granted until the age of 17 and a half or for 30 months, whichever
is shorter. At the end of that period, the child has the opportunity
to submit a further application for leave. Both asylum and leave
determinations are subject to appeal and judicial review where
a child has leave to remain exceeding 12 months.
108. Many witnesses highlighted that discretionary
leave was by far the most common determination in cases featuring
unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
This is borne out by the statistics over the past five years (see
Table 2). In 2012 around 40% of the initial decisions for unaccompanied
asylum-seeking children resulted in grants of discretionary leavea
proportion that increased to more than half when the initial decision
was made when the child was 17 or underwhile less than
a quarter were granted asylum. In comparison, asylum was granted
in around about 30% of adult cases in the same period.
However, the proportion of cases in which asylum is granted to
children has increased over time.
Table 2: Initial asylum decisions for unaccompanied
migrant children, UK totals in the last five years
Source: Home Office immigration statistics
|Year||Total initial decisions
||Grants of asylum or humanitarian protection
||Refused asylum, granted discretionary leave to remain
||Outright refusal (including on on-compliance and third country grounds)
109. The Government insisted the decision making process was "robust
and thorough", and enabled children "to approach adulthood
knowing what their immigration status is". This, it said,
represented the "durable solution that is required to enable
the child to plan for their future", upholding the best interests
of children. Croydon
Council said that limited leave was "realistic" and
allowed for the situation to be re-appraised at a point when it
could be possible to return a child.
110. Many witnesses disagreed. The UNHCR considered
that discretionary leave was used too readily, with considerable
variation in practice. It noted that "child-specific forms
of persecution" were not being recognised, leading to grants
of "a lower form of leave".
It thought that this reflected a failure to consider asylum claims
made by children properly, and was a further instance of immigration
policy taking precedence over children's best interests.
For some, the main issue was the lack of credibility given to
children making claims. Asylum Aid thought the process burdened
children "with far too high a standard of proof", leading
to fewer grants of asylum as a result.
111. For a number of witnesses, the grant of discretionary
leave did not represent a durable solution.
The Children's Commissioner for England said discretionary leave
was "much more like a stay of execution than anything else".
The Refugee Children's Consortium considered the granting of discretionary
leave an unsatisfactory "limbo" that could compound
the distress involved in making an asylum claim.
ILPA thought it was especially lacking in durability owing to
the limited system of appeals when leave is granted for less than
a year. The NSPCC
said this was exacerbated by a widespread lack of understanding
about appeal rights.
A linked concern related to the difficulty of claiming further
leave upon reaching 18,
even though some children whose claims were refused would not
be able to return in any case.
112. The Children's Society also thought that the
uncertainty and instability of discretionary leave hampered the
transition into adulthood, particularly in the pathway planning
process (see paragraph 192).
Barnardo's agreed, stating that the grant of discretionary leave
could leave young people "anxious and de-motivated"
as they feared losing the way of life and ties they had built
in the United Kingdom.
It thought that trafficked young people were particularly vulnerable
to such effects.
Delays were also of concern. Jim Wade, a Senior Research Fellow
at York University, noted that he had found that 80% of young
people in one study were waiting for a final status determination;
the uncertainty, he said, led to children living "with a
foreshortened sense of the future".
Witnesses drew attention to the impact of such uncertainty on
113. A number of witnesses also noted that unaccompanied
migrant children who were granted the right to remain in the United
Kingdom did not have a right to family reunion, despite such a
right being afforded to adults in the same situation. The Office
of the Children's Commissioner for England considered the failure
to grant reunion rights contrary to the UNCRC.
It was not persuaded that allowing reunion would lead to families
sending their children to the UK in order that they could join
them at a later date.
114. The Refugee Council called for more pragmatic
decision-making that recognised that earlier grants of refugee
status may be more appropriate than delaying decisions until children
The UNHCR agreed: it said that postponing decisions only increased
anxiety and emotional harm, and contravened the child's best interests
by taking away the safeguards offered by the UNCRC.
Coram Children's Legal Centre said that, if decisions were to
continue to be made in that way, it was at least better to do
so at 18 rather than 17 and a half, to allow further education
or other qualifications to be completed.
The Children's Society argued that the decision-making system
in Sweden took a far more child-focused approach, giving prominence
to integration and development, and recommended it as a suitable
115. Coram Children's Legal Centre wanted to see
fundamental change to the framework within which decisions were
made, to move to a system akin to care proceedings in the family
It also sought the establishment of a pilot court along the same
lines as the Family Drug and Alcohol Court used in family proceedings
where there were issues relating to substance abuse in a number
of London boroughs, with the court given the flexibility to take
on decision-making in a more collaborative manner.
116. For some witnesses, the best course was to grant
indefinite leave far more often to allow children to plan for
the future. Praxis thought this would allow for clear pathway
plans to be established and for children to access education at
domestic rates (see paragraph 218).
Dost agreed, arguing that it would make a "phenomenal difference",
particularly for educational ambitions, and lead to a far greater
sense of security.
117. The Minister, however, insisted that any widespread
system of granting indefinite leave to remain would be "misconceived".
He stressed that to do so would "incentivise people to have
children travel alone", which would "drive a coach and
horses through the asylum system".
He accepted that there may be a case for setting out the decision-making
process more clearly to children,
as well as delaying decisions at least until further education
had been completed at age 18,
but did not support any fundamental change in the decision-making
process for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
118. The current decision-making framework is clearly
unsatisfactory. The widespread granting of discretionary leave
to remain, with further determinations delayed until just before
adulthood, serves administrative convenience more than the best
interests of children. We are particularly concerned because it
appears that asylum claims are not being properly considered because
of the availability of discretionary leave. Making decisions in
this manner requires children to relive earlier traumas, punctuates
children's formative years with uncertainty, and inhibits access
to services and to the labour market in the future. This uncertainty
is only worsened by slow processes and limited appeal rights for
those with leave of less than 12 months.
119. Asylum claims must be properly determined
in all cases regardless of age under the 1951 Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. The determination
must be sensitive to the needs and experiences of children seeking
asylum. Children should be provided with funded specialist legal
advice and representation during this process. Where a child is
granted refugee status he or she should have the possibility of
being reunited with family members, as is the case for adults
in the same situation.
120. We recommend that the Government amend the
eligibility requirements under section 83 of the Nationality,
Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to ensure that appeal rights are
available for all those subject to a negative decision in relation
to an asylum or leave claim, regardless of the remaining period.
121. Where an asylum claim is refused but a child
cannot be returned during their childhood, it is right that other
forms of leave are granted. However it would give more certainty
to children if proper consideration could be given to the future
early on, with decisions based upon country of origin reports,
engagement with the child and an evaluation of the ties they have
formed in the United Kingdom. We acknowledge the Minister's concerns
as to the possible resource implications of more widespread grants
of further leave to remain, but the alternative merely passes
on costs to local authorities (see paragraph 201) as well as being
detrimental to the children affected.
122. Where children are granted discretionary
leave, we recommend that the leave period should run until the
age of 18, in accordance with the definition of a child in Article
1 of the UNCRC.
123. During a period of discretionary leave, decision-making
should be encouraged as soon as there is sufficient evidence against
which to evaluate a claim. Where it is in the best interests of
the child to remain in the United Kingdom, indefinite leave to
remain should be granted as early as that judgment can be made,
to enable children to access higher education and enter the labour
market. Where return is considered to be appropriate, a care plan
should be constructed to inform and prepare a child for return
in adulthood. In either case, support should persist until the
objectives of a properly considered care plan are met.
124. There may also be benefits to establishing decision-making
on a more child-friendly footing that borrows from care proceedings
under the Children Act 1989, though we are not convinced that
it is currently realistic to call for a fundamental restructuring
of the court system. We do consider, however, that there is merit
in establishing a pilot tribunal with adapted procedures to take
on decision-making responsibilities in some cases. The pilot should
be conducted on a similar scale to that of the Family Drug and
125. We recommend the establishment of a pilot
tribunal with adapted procedures, drawing on expertise from both
the child and family and immigration courts, to take on responsibility
for the decision-making, welfare and support arrangements of unaccompanied
asylum-seeking children in a small number of cases. Its work should
be independently reviewed, in order to identify possible adaptations
to the decision-making framework more generally that may emerge.
PROTECTING TRAFFICKED CHILDREN
THE NATIONAL REFERRAL MECHANISM
126. Some children who arrive in the United Kingdom
have been trafficked, most commonly for the purpose of work or
sexual exploitation. Although such children do not necessarily
apply for asylum or other protection, support must be provided.
To that end, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), introduced
in 2009 in order to meet the UK's obligations under the Council
of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings,
provides a framework for helping young people suspected of being
trafficked. It is intended to provide for either voluntary return
to the country of origin or a grant of discretionary leave. The
process is described in Box 2.
|Box 2: NRM
Source: Material summarised and adapted from the Serious Organised Crime Agency website
To be referred to the NRM, victims must be referred to one of the UK's two competent authorities - the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) for cases involving referrals from the police, some NGOs or local authorities, or the immigration authorities where cases emerge during the immigration process. The referral is made by a body authorised for the purpose, such as the police and local authorities. These are known as "first responders".
After referral, a case is assessed and a decision is made as to whether there are "reasonable grounds" to believe the individual is a victim of trafficking. The threshold is that a case manager "believes but cannot prove" that the individual is a potential victim of trafficking.
If the decision is affirmative, the potential victim will be allocated a place within safe house accommodation, and if required granted a recovery and reflection period of 45 days. During that period, further information is gathered, following which a conclusive decision is made, for which the threshold is that on is that on the balance of probability "it is more likely than not" that the individual is a victim of human trafficking.
After that, the victim may be granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK for one year to allow them to co-operate fully in any police investigation and subsequent prosecution. The period of discretionary leave can be extended if required. If a victim of trafficking is not involved in the criminal justice process, the authorities may consider a grant of discretionary leave, which would usually be the case for unaccompanied migrant children in line with usual decision-making practice. Victims can also receive help and financial assistance to return home.
If the person concerned is not determined to be a victim of trafficking, then they will be referred to a law enforcement agency if appropriate, or otherwise processed in line with usual asylum and immigration processes.
A determination under the NRM can only be challenged by judicial review
127. This is one of a number of developments since our predecessor
Committee last reported on the issue of trafficking.
Other developments include the development of a human trafficking
introduction of statutory guidance to support national and local
agencies in helping trafficked children,
and the passage of an EU Trafficking Directive which includes
a requirement to appoint a guardian for trafficked children (see
We are pleased to see this heightened awareness of the importance
of combating human trafficking.
128. The Government insisted that the NRM was a "valuable
framework for ensuring important information about a child's potential
trafficking is recognised and shared appropriately with the relevant
agencies". It said that a referral under the NRM allowed
victims to "receive the bespoke support and care they need
as victims of trafficking", and allowed support services
to "focus on the particular needs that a trafficked child/unaccompanied
trafficked child is likely to have".
129. The Government also noted that it had worked
to raise awareness of the NRM, including through the provision
of designated training for decision-makers, and the development
of targeted materials to help practitioners in children's services
to understand the process. It said that the increase in the number
of referralsfrom 186 in 2010, to 234 in 2011, and 373 in
2012demonstrated "that the use of the NRM is becoming
more widespread as its value as a collaborative framework is recognised".
130. Nevertheless, many witnesses thought that the
NRM was ineffective and was failing to identify trafficked children.
UNICEF UK, while acknowledging that the NRM was an "achievement",
said that there was "certainly space for improvement"
in expediting the identification of child victims of trafficking".
The Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People
said that the NRM was not "fit for purpose", with low
numbers of children receiving positive determinations under the
system. The Children's
Commissioner for England noted that high-risk groups "continue
to go missing from care and, we must assume, fall into the hands
of traffickers", despite a protective duty under Article
19 of the UNCRC.
The Refugee Children's Consortium queried the benefits of referral
under the system, and said that there was a "lack of trust
in the effectiveness of the process" among frontline agencies.
131. Indeed, a report from the UK Human Trafficking
Centre, one of the two competent authorities under the NRM, found
that fewer than half of the 2,000 potential victims encountered
in 2011 were referred into the NRM.
The UK Children's Commissioners noted a significantly higher positive
determination rate in cases examined by the UKHTC compared to
those made by the immigration authorities, the other competent
authority under the NRM, and a higher rate of positive determinations
in cases featuring adults.
They were therefore concerned at the lack of an independent review
into the scheme, which they thought left the NRM open to "criticism
of poor decision making, unfairness and bias".
132. Criticism of the awareness and training levels
of the safeguarding workforce was widespread.
ECPAT and the UK Children's Commissioners noted that a survey
of local authorities suggested that only eighta quarter
of those surveyedhad confirmed their implementation of
the London Safeguarding Trafficked Children Toolkit and Practical
Guidance, materials designed by the London Local Children Safeguarding
Board to assist local authorities in tackling child trafficking.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons said that referrals from
prison were not "consistent", and that not all immigration
authority staff were "fully trained in child protection and
133. The ADCS was also concerned about the lack of
a statutory framework for the system, which meant there were no
formal timescales and no duties incumbent upon agencies to make
referrals into the system.
The UK Children's Commissioners said that "these structural
flaws lead to a variable quality of referral and may contribute
to an overall picture of under recording and reporting, low recognition
rates, prosecution of victims, low levels of investigation by
the police and placing victims back into the hands of their traffickers".
ECPAT also criticised the "ineffectiveness" of the Inter-Departmental
Ministerial Group on human trafficking, the steering group established
to co-ordinate efforts in this area.
134. Witnesses identified a number of possible avenues
for reform. Some wanted to see the existing system improved by
granting the power to make referrals into the NRM to a wider range
of bodies. ILPA argued that immigration solicitors should be so
others thought that powers should be granted to those working
in the youth justice estate (see para 152).
The UK Children's Commissioners also wanted to see a keener
sense of awareness among all those who already had first responder
135. Others wanted more fundamental reform of the
system. UNICEF UK, highlighting the support of the Council of
Europe's trafficking monitoring body for more decentralised decision-making,
supported decentralisation in the devolved context.
The Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People agreed:
he said there were people "who could be acting as the competent
authority who are closest to those children, but who do not actually
have capacity to do that because of the way that it has been set
UK Children's Commissioners thought that the competent authorities
should "at least include the child care professional organisations
that provide the child with safe accommodation and care",
while the Refugee Council thought that making the process independent
from the Home Office "might be a big step forward".
136. We welcome the development of the National Referral
Mechanism and the framework it provides to meet the needs of children
who have been trafficked. However, we are concerned by the negative
reports of its operation in practice, particularly regarding the
differential determination rates within the system. We are also
concerned that its operation has not yet been reviewed.
137. We also agree that there should be greater awareness
of the NRM and its requirements among the safeguarding workforce.
Otherwise, the Government's good work, including the dissemination
of an NRM pack for local authority staff, could be wasted. There
is scope to take this work further as part of a broader training
138. Finally, we are persuaded by the case for greater
independence in the operation of the NRM. The low level of NRM
determinations by the immigration authorities fails to dispel
perceptions of an inherent conflict of interest, which could undermine
goodwill towards the mechanism and put trust in the system at
risk. At the same time, we support central oversight of the determinations
process with a view to achieving greater consistency, and we do
not support instituting more bodies as "competent authorities"
under the scheme.
139. We consider instead that the UKHTC should be
vested with responsibility as the sole "competent authority"
under the NRM. Though not an independent body, it receives input
from a range of agencies, and is supported by civil society organisations.
It would be a suitable body to provide leadership in this area,
and could take on the role more quickly than if responsibility
were to be devolved to an entirely separate body. It should, however,
be properly resourced to enable it to decentralise its operations
to ensure it is a visible organisation with credibility across
the country. The reconfiguration of the immigration authorities
provides an opportunity to effect this change.
140. We recommend that the Government commission
an independent review of the operation of the National Referral
Mechanism, which should in particular consider whether a statutory
framework for the mechanism is necessary.
141. We recommend that the Government integrate
NRM training into pre- and post-qualifying training for the safeguarding
workforce (see paragraph 56).
142. We recommend that the UK Human Trafficking
Centre be given sole responsibility as the "competent authority"
under the NRM. The Government should ensure that the UKHTC is
properly resourced to engage other agencies in its work and to
foster trust and support for the system at a local level.
DATA COLLECTION AND OVERSIGHT
143. There was widespread concern that the NRM was
insufficiently transparent. At present the Inter-Departmental
Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking reports to Parliament,
a process designed to inform public debate. However, the UK Children's
Commissioners criticised the present picture given of trafficking
as "incomplete". They said the combination of NRM referral
figures, which they considered under-estimated case numbers, and
the lack of a centralised tracking and tracing mechanism, led
to a systematic under-reporting of cases and a lack of detailed
ECPAT agreed that there was a "lack of reliable and
representative data" on the scale of trafficking.
The Office of the Children's Commissioner for England was also
concerned that there had not yet been a formal assessment of the
number of young people in either youth or adult custody who were
victims of trafficking.
144. Several witnesses accordingly called for the
institution of an independent anti-trafficking co-ordinator to
monitor arrangements with respect to trafficked children. ECPAT
thought an independent mechanism with a specific focus on data
collection was "essential".
The UK Children's Commissioners argued that an independent post
with oversight of the NRM would avoid the present perception of
a conflict of interest.
145. It is imperative that the operation of the NRM
can be scrutinised by civil society and by Parliament. It is therefore
vital that there is a system in place to collect and analyse data
about its operation. The Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group
on Human Trafficking cannot, by virtue of its nature as policy
co-ordination body, provide such oversight independently.
146. We recommend that disaggregated data on human
trafficking be collected, monitored and analysed systematically.
We recommend that an independent anti-trafficking coordinator
be empowered to oversee the dissemination and analysis of such
data, to report at least annually.
CRIMINALISATION OF TRAFFICKED CHILDREN
147. Concern was expressed over those children who,
rather than being assisted by the NRM, are brought within the
criminal justice system as a result of activities undertaken owing
Examples cited included trafficked Vietnamese young people working
on cannabis farms, and individuals holding false documentation
given to them in the process of trafficking.
148. Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
and police authority guidance,
which counsel against prosecution or detention where a child is
suspected or determined to have been trafficked, is already in
place. However, several witnesses expressed concern that staff
were unaware of or unfamiliar with the guidance, leading to inconsistency
in practice, and called for efforts to improve awareness.
The NSPCC stressed that such awareness had to extend to those
dealing with children in the prison estate. It called for "first
responder" status to be given to trained prison staff, who
were "amongst the most skilled practitioners in identifying
possible victims of trafficking".
149. The Government stressed its commitment to raising
awareness around the criminalisation of children, a "key
issue in the Government's Human Trafficking Strategy". It
noted that CPS guidance provided mechanisms for the courts and
prosecutors to take into account the child's trafficked status,
before, during and after prosecution, and made clear that work
to ensure that "trafficked children found involved in criminal
activity are safeguarded and are not unnecessarily criminalised
is ongoing." It wanted local authority staff to be vigilant
to the possibility of trafficking, and acknowledged that there
was work to be done in this area.
150. Children who are trafficked are victims of crime
and should be treated as such. Their involvement in the criminal
justice system puts them at risk of further harm, including to
their mental health. This is particularly acute where age is disputed
and children may be at risk of being detained in adult facilities
(see paragraph 80).
151. The Government should demonstrate its commitment
to preventing unnecessary criminalisation by developing awareness.
To do so it should encourage participation in training, and it
should develop targeted materials for relevant staff. Finally,
it should give prison staff the tools to contribute to the fight
against human trafficking as "first responders".
152. We welcome the production of CPS and police
guidance which makes clear that authorities should seek not to
prosecute or convict child victims of trafficking unnecessarily.
We recommend that the Government develop targeted materials to
raise awareness of this guidance and of the NRM among police and
153. We recommend that suitably trained prison
and youth offending institution staff be vested with "first
responder" status under the NRM, to give them the power to
refer possible victims of trafficking into the mechanism.
154. Returning an unaccompanied migrant child, either
to their country of origin or to a third country, may be considered
appropriate by the immigration authorities in some cases. Return
is most often considered where an application for asylum has been
refused and the period of leave has ended. It may also be considered
in cases where a child has been trafficked, or where a young person
chooses to return, as part of a voluntary scheme.
155. There are also international mechanisms that
relate to returns. For children who have previously travelled
through another European country, enforced removal to that country
can be taken forward under the Dublin II Regulation.
However, this makes clear that no child should be removed until
a clear process has shown that an individual's needs and rights
under the UNCRC, including best interests, have been considered.
156. Finally, the European Return Platform for Unaccompanied
Minors (ERPUM) brings together a number of governments, including
those of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands,
to seek to develop a co-ordinated returns mechanism for unaccompanied
migrant children whose asylum applications are unsuccessful. Under
the scheme, negotiations are ongoing with the governments of Afghanistan
and Iraq to put in place arrangements to return children either
to family situations or to institutional care.
157. Whatever the mechanism, facilitating the return
of a child is a central part of deliberating on a child's future.
Where it would benefit a child's long-term emotional and personal
development, returning a child could form part of a suitable care
plan. It is essential that such decisions are underpinned by a
comprehensive and transparent assessment of the best interests
of the children concerned.
158. Witnesses expressed widespread concern that
best interests were not being assessed thoroughly enough when
making returns decisions in relation to unaccompanied migrant
witnesses thought this was a reflection of the fact that there
was insufficient information on which to base a decision, and
too little sensitivity shown in assessing that information. Dr
Christine Mounge, a social anthropologist working with unaccompanied
migrant children, thought those factors precluded a "balanced
consideration" of the best interests of children.
The Children's Society called for more attention to be paid to
experiences and ties formed in the United Kingdom when considering
the question of returns.
ILPA called for post-return evaluation as well, to ensure that
any arrangements made are shown to be sufficient.
159. Anxiety was expressed over the possibility of
returning children to countries where there were ongoing humanitarian
issues or conflict. Proposals to return children to Afghanistan
and Iraq under the ERPUM were particularly criticised, and witnesses
urged the Government not to institute returns while those concerns
UNHCR put the case simply: "country-of-origin evidence shows
that the situation in Afghanistan is really not suitable for children
to be returned."
Human Rights Watch said that returning children to Afghanistan
without proper family tracing could lead to a "real risk
of irreparable harm", citing problems in relation to education,
healthcare and possible underage military recruitment.
The Refugee Council said that discussing returns in such circumstances
"illustrates how far we are removed from looking at the best
interests of children and the human rights of children".
160. We repeat that the best interests of children
must always be at the heart of the returns process. It is legitimate
to keep migration policy objectives in mind, as they cannot be
divorced from all considerations in this area, but not at the
expense of properly determining how to safeguard unaccompanied
migrant children. We therefore welcome the strong statement from
Cruz Villalòn AG, in a recent case in the European Court
of Justice, stressing the importance of considering best interests
when making decisions about returns under the Dublin II Regulation.
161. The Government should ensure that decision-makers
make child-focused assessments of the overall benefits of returns.
Such decisions should be made with the UNCRC in mind. Arrangements
need not necessarily be with a family member, but they must be
secure and effective, they should support the child's development
needs, and they should be evaluated after return.
162. We are deeply concerned that returns are being
considered to institutional care facilities in Afghanistan and
Iraq under the ERPUM project. There are credible humanitarian
concerns as to their suitability as locations for the return of
unaccompanied children, as was the case for similarand
abortedproposals to return children to Albania in 2003.
Taking forward proposals for enforced returns before such conditions
have abated is in conflict with the UK's obligations under the
UNCRC. The Government should either curtail these activities within
the platform, or cease cooperation with it.
163. All decisions on returning children to their
country of origin should be made only after a full assessment
of whether return is in the best interests of the child. Such
a decision should be made in the light of a full country-of-origin
report framed according to the UNCRC, and after a full assessment
of the needs of the child and the care arrangements that they
will return to. Return arrangements should also be subject to
independent evaluation afterwards to determine their suitability.
We recommend that the Government issue clear guidance setting
out these standards, including in cases of returns to third countries
under the Dublin II Regulation.
164. We recommend that the Government clarify
the work it has undertaken with respect to returning children
forcibly to Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly in relation to
the European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors. The Government
should affirm that no proposals for enforced returns will be taken
forward while conflict or humanitarian concerns persist. If this
cannot be guaranteed within the ERPUM, we recommend that the Government
withdraw from further participation with the platform.
77 Q85 Back
HM Government Back
Refugee Council, ILPA Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England. See also Rosemary
Brighter Futures visit, Office of the Children's Commissioner
for England, Klevis Kola foundation, Rosemary Demin, Q30 (Children's
Commissioner for Wales), Q48 (Baljeet Sandhu) Back
Barnardo's. See also Office of the Children's Commissioner for
England, UNHCR Back
Law Centre (Northern Ireland) Back
Refugee Council. NSPCC, Law Centre (Northern Ireland), Refugee
Action, Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
Q35. See also Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England, Landing
in Dover: the immigration process undgergone by unaccompanied
children arriving in Kent, January 2012 Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England: Landing
in Kent: the experience of unaccompanied children arriving in
the UK, February 2011 Back
Immigration Law Practitioners' Association, Asylum Operating
Model, May 2013: http://www.ilpa.org.uk/data/resources/ 17810/13.05.02-Asylum-Operating-Model-info-sheet.pdf Back
Coram Children's Legal Centre Visit Back
R (B) v London Borough of Merton  EWHC 1689 (Admin). Back
HM Government Back
R (A) v London Borough of Croydon  UKSC Back
HM Government Back
Home Office, Immigration Statistics: October-December 2012,
February 2013, op. cit. See also Supplementary submissions
from Coram Children's Legal Centre, which originally tabulated
this data. Back
See for example, Q22 (Refugee Council, Children's Society), Law
Centre (Northern Ireland) Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England. See also Q22
(Refugee Council, Children's Society) Back
UK Children's Commissioners Back
Coram Children's Legal Centre Back
See also ILPA Back
UK Children's Commissioners. See also Office of the Children's
Commissioner for England, Coram Children's Legal Centre, Refugee
Children's Consortium, Refugee Council, Children's Society Back
Supplementary submission from HM Government Back
Refugee Children's Consortium, Children's Society, Asylum Aid,
Refugee Council, ECPAT, Barnardo's, Coram Children's Legal Centre
visit, Brighter Futures visit Back
Asylum Aid. See also Refugee Children's Consortium, Q49 (Baljeet
Sandhu, Islington Law Centre) Back
ECPAT. See also Refugee Council, Asylum Aid, ECPAT, Royal Holloway
and Tavistock Centre Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons. See also Coram Children's
Legal Centre, ILPA, NSPCC, Refugee Children's Consortium, Children's
Society, BASW, Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
Rosemary Demin, Barnardo's, Office of the Children's Commissioner
for England, UNHCR, Coram Children's Legal Centre, Children's
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
ECPAT, Barnardo's, Office of the Children's Commissioner for England,
Praxis, Coram Children's Legal Centre, Refugee Action, Refugee
Children's Consortium, Q64 (Praxis, Dost) Back
See also CFAB, UNHCR, ECPAT, Refugee Council, Office of the Children's
Commissioner for England, ILPA, Children's Society, NSPCC, Q19
(Children's Society), Q49 (ILPA), Q64 (Dost) Back
Q19. See also UNHCR and ILPA Back
UNHCR. See also Unseen, ILPA Back
Q64. See also Barnardo's, British Red Cross, Scottish Refugee
Council, Rosemary Demin Back
Office of the Chilren's Commissioner for England Back
Q49. See also UK Children's Commissioners Back
Kent County Council Back
Q19. See also CFAB, RCPH, Welsh Refugee Council, Coram Children's
Legal Centre, ILPA, Refugee Children's Consortium, UKCC, Q49 (ILPA) Back
Joint Committee on Human Rights, 25th Report (2008-09): Children's
Rights, (HL Paper 157/HC 318); Joint Committee on Human Rights,
10th Report (2006-07): The Treatment of Asylum Seekers (HL
Paper 81-I/HC 60-I) Back
Coram Children's Legal Centre Happy Birthday? Disputing the
age of children in the immirgration system, May 2012: http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/userfiles/HappyBirthday_Final.pdf.
See also Coram Children's Legal Centre visit which noted that
Croydon also spent more than £800,000 on legal costs on court
cases relating to age assessments in 2009/10. Back
Supplementary submission from the Coram Children's Legal Centre. Back
See Q37 (Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People),
which reference such guidance being produced in Glasgow. Back
This is a joint initiative of the UNCHR and non-governmental organisations,
supported by the European Commission: http://separated-children-europe-programme.org/good_practice/SGP_2009_final_approved_for_print.pdf Back
Refugee Children's Consortium, ILPA, Welsh Refugee Council, Scottish
Refugee Council, CFAB, Q35 (Children's Commissioner for England, Back
See, for example, UNHCR Back
S83 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 Back
Refugee Children's Consortium, ILPA, Children's Society, Barnardo's,
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England, Refugee Action.
BASW, Coram Children's Legal Centre Back
Home Office, Immigration Statistics October- December 2012,
February 2013 op. cit. Back
See also Supplementary submission from the Coram Children's Legal
Centre, which provided the original tabulation Back
HM Government. See also Q90 (Mark Harper MP) Back
Q 87 Back
UNHCR. See also Coram Children's Legal Centre visit Back
Asylum Aid. See also Charlotte Nuboer-Cope, Refugee Council, Refugee
Refugee Action Back
Refugee Children's Consortium. See also ILPA Back
ILPA. See also, Q12 (Refugee Council) Back
NSPCC. See also Royal Holloway and Tavistock Centre, and Office
of the Children's Commissioner for England, Asylum Aid. Back
NSPCC, Refugee Council, British Red Cross, Refugee Action Back
Q11, Q22. Office of the Children's Commissioner for England. Kent
County Council agreed that it made future planning significantly
more difficult Back
Barnardo's. See also COMPAS, Royal Holloway andTavistock Centre Back
Barnardo's. See also ECPAT Back
OCCE. See also NRPFN, Law Centre (NI), Refugee Council, Coram
Children's Legal Centre visit Back
OCCE. See also Scottish Refugee Council, BASW, Refugee Council
, Q13 (UNHCR) Back
Coram supplementary submission Back
CFAB also proposed a new courts system, though it wanted to see
the merging of family and immigration courts. Back
Coram Children's Legal Centre visit. See Tavistock and Portman
NHS Foundation Trust, Family Drug and Alcolhol Court: http://www.tavistockandportman.nhs.uk/FDAC Back
Q61. See also Children's Society, Refugee Children's Consortium Back
Q62. See also Barnardo's, Q11 (Children's Society) Back
Letter to the Chair from Mark Harper MP, Minister for Immigration,
14 February 2013: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/joint-committees/human-rights/Letter_from_Mark_Harper_140213.pdf Back
Joint Committee on Human Rights, 26th Report (2005-06): Human
Trafficking (HL Paper 245-I / HC 1127-I) Back
HM Government, Human Traficcking: The Govenrment;s Stragegy
2011: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/97485/human-trafficking-strategy.pdf Back
Department for Education, Safeguarding Children Who May Have
Been Trafficked. See https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DFE-00084-2011.pdf Back
Directive 2011/36/EU of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating
trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims OJ L101
(15 April 2011) p1: http;//eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?ur=OJ:L:2011:101:0001:0011:EN:PDF. Back
Supplementary submission from HM Government. See also Q80 (ADCS) Back
Q34. See also Refugee Children's Consortium Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England. See also Migrant
Legal Project, Welsh Refugee Council, Refugee Children's Consortium Back
Refugee Children's Consortium. See also Q18 (UNICEF), Q34 (Scottish
Commissioner for Children and Young People) Back
UK Human Trafficking Centre 'A Baseline Assessment on the Nature
and Scale of Human Trafficking in 2011', August 2012: http://www.soca.gov.uk/news/462-human-trafficking-assessment-published Back
UK Children's Commissioners See also Refugee Children's Consortium,
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
See also ECPAT Back
ECPAT, Migrant Legak Project, Unseen, Refugee Children's Consortium,
UK Children's Commissioners Back
ECPAT. See also UK Children's Commissioners. Back
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons Back
UK Children's Commissioners See also NSPCC, CPAT Back
ILPA. See also Migrant Legal Project Back
NSPCC, Migrant Legal Project Back
UK Children's Commissioners. See also Refugee Children's Consortium,
Coram Children's Legal Centre Back
Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking
in Human Beings (GRETA), Report concerning the implementation
of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking
in Human Beings by the United Kingdom, First evaluation round,
September 2012: http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/download.action;jsessionid=gzYqRMcKJNWh9Tx9Thjv69Cs9mmWpwLvgX38LkPQFG51ssv11Th3!1062222535?nodePath=%2FPublications%2FGRETA_Report+United+Kingdom+2012_en.pdf&fileName=GRETA_Report+United+Kingdom+2012_en.pdf Back
Q34. See also Unseen, which supported the development of regional
assessment centres Back
UK Children's Commissioners. The Scottish Refugee Council also
supported the involvement of child protection professionals. Back
UK Children's Commissioners Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England, Scottish Refugee
Council, NSPCC, Law Centre (Northern Ireland) Back
See also CFAB, Refugee Children's Consortium Back
UK Children's Commissioners. See also CFAB Back
ECPAT, Welsh Refugee Council, Refugee Children's Consortium, Office
of the Children's Commissioner for England, NSPCC, Coram Children's
Legal Centre Back
Crown Prosecution Service, CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases
of Human Trafficking, August 2011: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/policy_for_prosecuting_cases_of_human_trafficking.pdf Back
See, for example, Association of Chief Police Officers, Position
from ACPO Leads on Child Protection and Cannabis Cultivation on
Children and Young People Recovered from Cannabis Farms: http://www.ceop.police.uk/Documents/ceopdocs/externaldocs/160810_ACPO_leads_position_on_CYP_recovered_from_cannabis_farms_FINAL.pdf Back
Office of the Children's Commissioner for England, Welsh Refugee
Council, Migrant Legal Project, ECPAT, NSPCC, Refugee Children's
NSPCC. See also Migrant Legal Project, Unseen Back
HM Government Back
Schemes include the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration
Programme, and the Assisted Voluntary Return of Irregular Migrants.
See http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/outcomes/unsuccessfulapplications/voluntaryreturn/ Back
Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003
establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member
State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in
one of the Member States by a third-country national, OJ L50 (25.02.2003). Back
See MA v United Kingdom (ECJ, C-648/11), where the Cruz Villalon
AG stressed the importance of best interests in these determinations. Back
Ssee, for example Office of the Children's Commissioner for England Back
See UNHCR, UNICEF, Refugee Action Back
CFAB, Children's Society, Welsh Refugee Council, NSPCC, Refugee
Children's Consortium, UNICEF Back
Dr Christine Mounge Back
ILPA. See also UNHCR Back
CFAB, Children's Society, Refugee Children's Consortium, Royal
Holloway and Tavistock Centre, Office of the Children's Commissioner
for England, Human Rights Watch, Charlotte Nubber-Cope, Coram
Children's Legal Centre, Welsh Refugee Council, Alan Morice Back
Q16. See also Q16 (UNICEF), Q33 (Scottish Comissioner for Children
and Young People) Back
Human Rights Watch. It is suggested that to return a child in
such circumstance would violate the principle of non-refoulement,
the concept of international customary law expanded upon in the
UNCRC and in General Comment No. 6, that refugees or potential
victims of persecution should not be returned to a situation where
there is a "real risk of irreparable harm". Back
Q16. See also Coram Children's Legal Centre, COMPAS Back
MA v United Kingdom Secretary of State (get caseref) Back
See International Detention Coalition, Seeking Asylum Alone,
2009: http://idcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/seeking-asylum-alone.pdf Back