Nearly a quarter of absconded asylum seekers aged under eighteen were subject to age disputes

Nearly a quarter of absconded asylum seekers aged under eighteen were subject to age disputes

August 26, 2023

A Freedom of Information request by Migration Watch UK has revealed that of 580 unaccompanied child asylum seekers recorded missing or as absconded from 2021 to the end of 2022, 127 (22%) had had their age disputed by the authorities.

Of these, 76 absconded while their age dispute was still ongoing and 13 absconded within seven days (before or after) of the outcome of their age dispute outcome.

This indicates that many of those under-age asylum seekers recorded as missing or absconded, may have in fact been aged eighteen or over. Despite media reporting that child asylum seekers had been 'kidnapped by gangs', it is possible that many of these were, in fact, adults who left their accommodation of their own free will as the high amount of age disputes indicates.

Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK said:

This is yet more evidence that our asylum system is being abused and that not enough is being done to close down such abuse.

We also know that official guidance instructs case workers to give the benefit of the doubt to those who appear only a few years over 18. This is dangerous nonsense.

The rights of our citizens and in particular our children must always come before those of bogus asylum seekers and adults pretending to be children.

Notes to editors

In January 2023, Robert Jenrick MP revealed in Parliament that of 200 children still missing by January 2023, 199 were male and 183 were recorded as being aged 16 or 17. He also revealed that 88%, or about 176 of the still-missing children were Albanian nationals.

From 2020 to the end of 2022, 46% of age disputes have ruled that the subject was aged eighteen or over. Source: Migration Statistics.

This Freedom of Information request was submitted on 2nd March 2023, and fulfilled on 9th August 2023. The full response can be accessed here.

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