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Ground Breaking Practice Guidance on Age Assessment Published

A consortium of partners co-ordinated by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has today, Tuesday 13 October, launched new good practice guidance aimed at assisting frontline social workers in conducting age assessments of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.

This subject has been controversial for many years and there have been frequent calls for guidance to enable social workers to undertake this specialist task. To date good practice has been largely established through case law following legal challenges.

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. Young people with experience of age assessments were consulted as part of the drafting process and some of their reflections appear in the final document.

The guidance brings together the fundamental elements of what constitutes a lawful assessment whilst acknowledging the challenges social workers face in their day to day work and 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.

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.

Paul Greenhalgh, Chair of the ADCS Asylum Taskforce, said: “I am proud of the Association’s role in developing this important guidance. I hope that it will enable social workers to feel more confident and supported in this difficult task. I am grateful to the busy practitioners who have shared their insight and expertise to help their fellow professionals.”

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “It is critically important to the lives of many hundreds of young unaccompanied asylum-seekers who arrive in the UK each year that the age assessment process is as accurate and fair as possible. Those who are children must be treated as such – ensuring they get the support and security they need. That is why I am pleased to support the new age assessment guidance from ADCS and encourage social workers to make use of it.”

The Association’s Asylum Taskforce encourages social workers across the country to make use of this new resource to complement existing guidance on conducting holistic assessments, and to work with all relevant professionals to respond to the needs of this particular group of children in need.

The guidance can be accessed here.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Membership of the ‘Age Assessment Strategic Oversight Group’ is made up of representatives from a number of local authority children’s services departments and external partners including the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Department of Health, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, the UN High Commission for Refugees, the National Police Chiefs Council, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Refugee Council and the Refugee Children’s Consortium. The oversight group meets under the leadership of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
  • Events over the summer have highlighted the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in Europe. A significant number of those entering the UK will be unaccompanied children and it falls upon local authority social workers to assess their needs. Where age is uncertain, carrying out an age assessment is part of this task in order ensure the individual needs of young people are appropriately addressed and they are properly supported – they may have experienced significant trauma on their perilous journey. Anyone assessed to be over the age of 18 is transferred, with due care, into the adult asylum system.

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