To ask Her Majesty's Government how many unaccompanied asylum-seeking children reached Britain in each of the last three years; and what plans they have to ensure the (1) identification, (2) safety, and (3) wellbeing, of these children.
The number of unaccompanied children who make asylum claims is published in the quarterly immigration statistics. The latest statistics can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-applications-decisions-and-resettlement
Protecting vulnerable children is a key priority for the Government and the Home Office takes its responsibility for the welfare of children very seriously. Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 requires the Secretary of State to make arrangements for ensuring that immigration, asylum and nationality functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the UK.
All Home Office staff with responsibility for interviewing and making decisions on asylum claims from children will have received specific training as a precursor to considering claims from children.
In line with our published guidance on handling asylum claims from children, once a child is encountered, the relevant local authority children’s services will be contacted and informed of the arrival and a referral made. Any modern slavery or urgent welfare concerns must be dealt with as a matter of priority.
Thereafter Home Office staff have an ongoing obligation to escalate any welfare concerns they have to the local authority children’s services throughout the course of the asylum process. In 2019, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any other country in Europe.