Government plans for age assessments
Commenting on government plans for age assessments, ADCS President Charlotte Ramsden said:
“Where unaccompanied asylum seeking children arrive in this country, their care and best interests must be at the heart of any decision made. These children and young people are fleeing desperate situations and arrive here alone in search of safety, whilst many already have a connection to this country, such as family members. The government’s proposed new immigration plan includes proposals to introduce a new National Age Assessment Board (NAAB). ADCS supports the establishment of a new NAAB, however, this must be driven by a child-centric approach. Any assessment carried out must also be thorough as well as timely as whilst the age of an individual is unknown they will likely be supported and accommodated as a child. The NAAB will therefore need to be sufficiently resourced given the significant number of age disputes we see on an annual basis.
“Conducting age assessments is complex and specialist work and is frequently the subject of legal challenge; individual local authorities cannot be expected to undertake this alone. ADCS supports the introduction of codified age assessment criteria, including the future use of scientific methods, subject to agreement and thorough research evidence as to their effectiveness. Alongside this, it will be essential that immigration officials receive thorough training so that we have consistency in decision-making at the initial stage. This will be vitally important if we are to reduce the volume of legal challenge.
“Engaging with gateway local authorities in particular will be key here as they have a lot of expertise in this area. The safety and best interests of asylum seeking children must be at the heart of any reforms or decisions made. All children and young people who are eligible deserve to be given the right support to meet their needs and welfare.”