African Children

Home Department written question – answered on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken since September 2001 to prevent the importation of children from Africa to be murdered as human sacrifices in churches; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

Since September 2001 the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) has taken forward several initiatives aimed at identifying vulnerable children on arrival in the UK:

Taking forward the recommendations of Operation Paladin—a multi-agency project led by the Metropolitan police aimed at protecting children.

An interviewing minors course has been available to staff in the Immigration Service since November 2004, providing specialist training in the skills needed to recognise signs of abuse as well as an awareness of the potential issues.

In June 2004 the IND Children's Taskforce was set up to address new duties and responsibilities imposed on agencies by the Children Act 2004.

The vulnerability of children who arrive unaccompanied in the United Kingdom is recognised and every effort is made to establish the bona-fides of the person they are meeting and the purpose of their visit. Social Services are alerted in all cases where an immigration officer has concerns for the welfare of the child.

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