‘When I first came in this country the first person I meet give me an age she think I might be. The only thing left with me was my identity but she denied it by giving me what she believes I am’ Young person
Children who arrive alone in the UK are regularly disbelieved about how old they are and can spend many years without access to education or appropriate support, or end up in unsupervised accommodation with adults or in adult immigration detention centres. The only way to challenge this treatment is to pursue costly and protracted legal proceedings.
This new report from Coram Children's Legal Centre
examines the age assessment process and the practical and emotional impact of age disputes on young people in the immigration system. The report reveals the human cost of a process that can be too long, too adversarial and fails to adequately consider the needs of the individuals involved. It highlights the impact on local authorities and the courts, and the financial cost of a system in which litigation is so often the only means of resolution.
The report explores means of improving the current process and alternative ways to address the issue of age that work in the interests of children and young people. It calls for positive action from central and local government to implement practical changes so that children do not continue to bear the brunt of a deeply flawed and costly system.
‘For my peace of mind I need to be my age. Two ages are not acceptable for my heart and mind’. Young person
‘During the period when I was helping M, it became apparent that the dispute over his age had served to distract from other issues, which sadly remained largely unaddressed, such as his sense of the loss of his entire childhood and family, the trauma of his journey and the prospect of his future life in the UK with not a single member of his family here. M could not afford to think about these things as he was taken up with proving his age.’ Solicitor