CHILDREN seeking asylum in the UK on their own face a culture of
"disbelief and suspicion" which leaves them frightened and
confused, a new report by the Children's Society says. More than
3000 children enter the UK alone each year, fleeing war, violence,
and human-rights abuses.
The report, Into the Unknown: Children's journeys through
the asylum process, is critical of the UK Border Agency (UKBA)
for failing to care adequately for children forced to seek asylum.
It accuses the UKBA of failing to make sure that children
understand what is happening to them during the asylum process.
The Children's Society said that the absence of child-friendly
information, together with a widespread culture of disbelief, and
disputes over young people's ages, caused confusion and insecurity,
and further damaged children already traumatised.
Researchers for the report spoke to 33 young asylum-seekers,
aged between 13 and 20 years old, who had travelled to the UK
alone. They came from many countries, including Algeria,
Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Some of the children
interviewed for the report had had no responsible adult to help
them in their asylum interviews, and, in some cases, the
interpreter had not spoken their dialect or language, leaving the
The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed,
said: "The amount of confusion and anxiety expressed by the
children we spoke to in the asylum process is very concerning.
Although the UKBA has made some progress, there needs to be a
fundamental shift in attitude concerning how they work with
children fleeing danger who need our help. Instead of getting the
care and support they need, these children are considered with
suspicion. In some cases they feel like they are being
Alleged police failures. The Times
this week published details of confidential police reports that, it
alleges, show that for more than a decade men groomed and
trafficked young girls through organised networks that were known
to the police, but never subject to prosecution.
The newspaper has published several articles about a pattern of
crimes across northern England and the Midlands, involving groups
of men, largely of Pakistani heritage, and the sexual abuse of
young white girls alleging serious safeguarding failures by the
police and other agencies.