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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK

Let’s be clear on children seeking asylum

A group of teenage Syrian refugees in London
‘This data is inaccurate, as it does not include the hundreds of children who were initially deemed to be adults … but were later recognised as children.’ Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

In your article (Child asylum seekers in UK forced to share hotel rooms with adults, 30 October) the Home Office gave a misleading figure, stating that “between January 2016 and the year ending June 2021, 58% of asylum applicants whose age was disputed were found to be adults”.

This data is inaccurate, as it does not include the hundreds of children who were initially deemed to be adults by border officials but were later recognised as children and taken into local authority care. It only accounts for those who were directly assigned to a council at the port of entry, and then went through a formal age determination process.

This omission conceals the true extent of children who are mistakenly placed within the adult asylum system. Even if they are eventually recognised as children, they will not be included in the government’s official figures.

Along with other organisations, we are urging the government to publish comprehensive data on age-disputed children. This information is readily available as each time a council assumes responsibility for a child seeking asylum, it approaches the Home Office to ask for funding.

Having a more accurate and complete account would enable all agencies to better understand how to support these very vulnerable children and minimise the risks that they face.
Enver Solomon
Chief executive, Refugee Council

• Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication in our letters section.

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