More than 5,000 asylum-seeking children are living in UK after arriving here ALONE, new figures reveal
- The number of claimants is nearly double that of the level four years ago
- Nine in ten were male and 85 per cent said they were aged between 16 and 18
- Last year three in five child asylum seekers were shown as adults after age check
The number of child asylum seekers living here after arriving alone topped 5,000 for the first time this year.
There were 5,070 claimants who said they were children being supported by councils at the end of March, nearly double the level four years ago.
Nine out of ten were male and 85 per cent said they were aged between 16 and 18, Department for Education figures said.
The number of child asylum seekers living here after arriving alone topped 5,000 for the first time this year with nine out of ten being males who said they were aged between 16 and 18 (stock image)
The record for child asylum seekers comes at a time when the status of unaccompanied claimants who say they are under 18 continues to raise controversy.
Many are thought to be over 18, but allegedly claim to be younger in order to qualify for better state support and free education.
The figures showed more than one in 20 of all children living in state care was an unaccompanied asylum seeker.
2 in 3 Britons still worried by migration
Nearly two thirds of the public think immigration levels are still a significant worry, according to a poll.
The survey for Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, found 65 per cent of those asked agree the level of net migration is a major concern for the public.
Fewer than a quarter disagreed with the statement in the poll of 1,500 people by Deltapoll. It found 75 per cent of Tory voters agreed the issue was a concern.
In a finding which has implications for Jeremy Corbyn, who supports higher migration levels, more than six in ten Labour voters also agreed.
Net migration – the number of immigrants minus the number emigrating – stood at 212,000 in the year to the end of June. It was the lowest level since 2013.
A Home Office analysis last year showed child asylum seekers whose age is checked turn out to be adults in three out of five cases.
However, in many cases child asylum seekers are given the benefit of the doubt because of the risk of putting children into adult detention centres, or fear that to class a child as an adult risks expensive legal action.
This means asylum seekers who are really adults can be placed with school pupils, or with children in foster families or children’s homes.
The Department for Education report said there were 5,070 child asylum seekers looked after by councils at the end of March, compared to 4,550 in the previous spring and 2,760 in March 2015.
‘The number of unaccompanied asylum seeker children increased by 11 per cent to 5,070 and they represent around six per cent of all children looked after in England,’ the report said.
‘Most are male, 85 per cent are aged 16 and over, and 87 per cent have a primary need of absent parenting.’
It added: ‘Local authorities with points of entry to the country, for example Kent and Croydon, have much larger numbers than other local authorities.
‘However there is a scheme in place to help redistribute unaccompanied asylum seeker children across the country.’
The annual count of numbers of children in care showed there were 78,150 looked after by councils in England at the end of March, up four per cent in a year.
Numbers being taken into care because they are at risk have shot up since the Baby P scandal in 2008.
Nearly one in five children in care are babies or under five (stock image)
Peter Connelly, 17 months, was left with his mother after being seen 60 times by social workers, NHS staff and police, none of whom acted to prevent his death from 50 injuries. There were at the time fewer than 60,000 children in council care.
But numbers who win permanent new homes through adoption have continued to fall.
Some 3,570 were adopted from state care last year, down from 5,360 in 2015.
One reason is the impact of a 2013 Supreme Court decision in which then deputy president of the court Lady Hale ruled that councils could allow children to be adopted by new families only ‘as a last resort’.
Nearly one in five children in care are babies or under five.
Seven out of ten children live with foster families, while 12 per cent are in children’s homes or secure accommodation.
Others live with parents under social worker supervision or independently.
Only three per cent have been placed with a new family who are expected to adopt them.