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Comment on NAAB

Andy Smith, ADCS Vice President said:

“The number of unaccompanied children who are fleeing desperate situations and seeking asylum in the UK has increased year on year, except for the pandemic period, and we are seeing a high number of age disputes annually. It is important that local authorities are adequately supported to undertake age assessments, this is complex specialist work which requires significant social work resource. The National Age Assessment Board (NAAB) was established to do this, but it is yet unclear whether it will be able to fulfil this purpose given its limited capacity. Age assessments must be driven by a child centric approach. The consequences of getting these decisions wrong for children who arrive here alone can mean they don’t receive the services and support they are entitled to. A review of how we currently approach age assessments is long overdue and this should consider the skills and knowledge needed by the workforce to undertake assessments and the opportunities scientific methods can offer whilst also drawing on the experience of local authorities with points of arrival. The last review of our approach to assessing age was in 2015 and is based on case law from 2003, so much has changed since then, and there is new research to draw on. Above all else the care and best interests of children who arrive here alone should be at the heart of any review, reforms and decisions made.”


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