Last week, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) released a report following inspection of the Home Office’s treatment of unaccompanied asylum seeking minors.
At issue is the extent to which the Home Office considers the child’s “best interests” in its practices, procedures and decisions. The report shows that past improvements on the matter (prompted by a similarly critical report in 2013) have now been lost.
As colleagues at Free Movement point out, “one in ten asylum applications last year was from a lone child — almost 3,000 of them. The latest inspection, which took place over the second half of 2017, looked at how asylum applications from unaccompanied under-18s are handled and how children are treated during the application process.”
Issues identified with current practices include:
- inconsistent record-keeping in age assessments (a contentious practice, for which Home Office assessors are not even specifically trained)
- incomplete case reviews
- poor quality decision letters
- insufficient commitment to mandatory family tracing
- interview structures that do not allow enough safeguarding measures
Free Movement notes that, according to the report, caseworkers get roughly 7.5 hours to decide on a child’s asylum application, versus 9.25 for an adult.