Age Assessment Guidance and Information Sharing Guidance for UASC
New age assessment guidance published, October 2015
A consortium of partners co-ordinated by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has produced good practice guidance aimed at assisting frontline social workers in conducting age assessments of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.
Representatives from local and central government, health, the police and a number of non-government organisations have collaborated with experienced social workers and practitioners on this piece of work which brings together the fundamental elements of what constitutes a lawful assessment whilst promoting best practice. It contains practical advice on preparing for, and conducting, age assessments, as well as a range of useful resources covering issues such as trafficking, trauma and memory, and legislation and case law. Young people with experience of age assessments were consulted and some of their reflections appear in the final document.
This document forms part of a suite of publications including the ADCS and Home Office Age Assessment Joint Working Guidance and the Information Sharing Proforma.
Age Assessment Guidance (October 2015)
An interactive booklet version of the guidance is available here. (Flash player needed)
Age Assessment – consolidating processes and practices in conducting lawful age assessments in England. April 2015
The issue of age assessment in social work with asylum seeking young people remains controversial and has been something that local authorities and their social workers in all parts of the UK have struggled with since the millennium. The ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide two new jointly agreed documents, as detailed below.
In 2003 the Merton Rules were set out by the High Court and further judgements have followed which have consequently informed and dictated the conduct of the age assessment process and practice. In a landmark judgement in 2009 the new Supreme Court ruled that the matter of age was a matter that must ultimately be decided by the court.
In 2005 the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), as then was, and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (now the Home Office) agreed a joint protocol. This had been borne out of the need of staff in busy London boroughs and port authorities to have some rules of understanding and process with immigration officers dealing with asylum cases in relation to age disputes. Also, it addressed the issue of young people moving around the country and between responsible authorities, including safeguarding implications.
Ten years later, the ADCS is pleased to be able to be able to announce:
- A revised Joint Working Guidance. This arose out of a shared recognition that the 2005 iteration had been superseded in many ways as result of experience, litigation and developing practice. This was assisted by the interest of MPs and peers on select committees, during the course of this Parliament, challenging local and national government to address this issue in a concerted way.
- A model proforma for sharing information about individual cases between the Local authorities and the Home Office, with explanation and guidance document.
The Home Office will also be publishing the Joint Working Guidance on the Home Office pages of the GOV.UK website. The ADCS Asylum Taskforce (chaired by Paul Greenhalgh, Executive Director, People, Croydon) enourages all local authorities to follow the guidance and make use of the model proforma.
These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.
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