Asylum: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 7th February 2019.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing an independent guardian or advocate to all unaccompanied children as a means of (a) assisting them with disclosures of modern slavery and (b) preventing them from being exploited or going missing.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the (a) ECPAT UK and Missing People's Still in Harm's Way report which found that one quarter of child trafficking victims and 15 per cent of unaccompanied children went missing from care in 2017 and (b) recommendation in that report on providing independent guardianship for all unaccompanied children.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The Government is committed to rolling independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) out nationally. Section 48 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which makes provisions for ICTAs, is being considered in the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act, led by Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP, and Baroness Butler-Sloss. The aim of the review is to identify where the act is working well, what can be improved in the implementation of the Act and whether specific areas of the legislation need to be strengthened.

The Government will carefully consider any recommendations about ICTAs which come out of the Review ahead of national rollout.

Unaccompanied children are looked after by the relevant local authority and are entitled to the same services as any other looked after child. Under these arrangements, unaccompanied children will have a professional social worker and an independent reviewing officer to oversee their care arrangements.

In addition, all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in England are referred to the Refugee Council’s Children’s Advice Project and they are also entitled to legal assistance in pursuing their asylum claim. The Government believes that these arrangements ensure unaccompanied children are provided with the independent support and advice that they need.

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