In a report published on 17th July, the Children’s Commissioner for England finds that there have been positive and unintended negative consequences for young people whose age has been disputed by the UK Border Agency and local authorities since a Supreme Court judgment in 2009. In her review of case law and local authority practice of age assessments of young people in the asylum system, ‘Fact of Age: a review of case law and local authority practice since the Supreme Court judgment in R (A) v Croydon LBC ’, the Children’s Commissioner calls for a ‘consensual, clear, scientifically sound way forward’ in order that the situation improves.
In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“We very much welcome this detailed report that reveals the positive and negative picture of the situation following the decision of the Supreme Court in 2009. The report shows that an inconsistent approach and an adversarial process has not always resulted in better outcomes for children and young people. This reflects the experiences of many separated children we work with who have their ages disputed by the UK Border Agency and local authorities. The report summarises the difficulties in accurately assessing the age of a young asylum seeker. We have consistently argued that benefit of the doubt must be applied as well as calling for improvements to policy and practice in this area. We look forward to participating in the dialogue called for by the Children’s Commissioner in this very important search for a better deal for these children and young people.”