Home Office labelling child asylum seekers as adults leads to abuse

Court of appeal rules assessment to determine age of young refugees is unlawful

Evidence of children being physically attacked, neglected or abandoned when wrongly treated as adults, puts further pressure on the Home Office after a court of appeal ruling last week found the department’s assessment policy to determine the age of young asylum seekers was unlawful. The Home Office has been ordered to scrap the policy and devise a new one.

Laura Gibbons, a solicitor at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, has challenged children wrongly assessed as adults through the courts many times. She said that of 67 people the unit had worked with since July 2017 more than half – 36 – had been age disputed. Of these cases, 93% have been successfully challenged, the majority using legal action. Research by the unit found that one 14-year-old child was wrongly assessed as 22.

The Refugee Council also works with this group of children. Between July and September last year they dealt with 92 new cases of young people assessed as adults. Of these, 41 have been found to be children with 45 cases still ongoing.

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