Children fleeing the horrors of warzones such as Syria and Afghanistan are being routinely misclassified as over-18 and locked up in adult detention centres in breach of Government policies and legal guidelines, an investigation has discovered.
Mistakes are happening because officers make decisions on age based on teenagers’ appearances.
But this method is particularly unreliable because the early onset of facial hair among many boys from the Middle East can make some look older than their European or east Asian counterparts.Yes, it’s yet another attempt to bang the drum for Open Borders and shame the UK into taking more Third World refugees.
Well, I’m not buying it. Not when they seem to have as many complaints about their treatment here as they do about the countries they’ve fled from:
Fawad arrived in the UK alone last year after all of his family were killed during the fighting in Iraq. Immigration officials found him in Dover and immediately decided he was over 18. In fact he was just 15.
“The detention centre was a scary place. There were huge grey buildings inside tall metal fences. It was cold. I barely slept. There were so many adults of all ages, speaking so many languages and I felt so alone.”
After three days in the centre he was released and moved to shared accommodation, but once again he was held with adults.
“I did not feel safe,” Fawad recalled. “The place was dirty and dark. I often felt anxious and jumpy. I just wanted to be around people my own age.”
Rauf, 15, fled Syria and was smuggled to the UK after his father was taken by an extremist group. Rauf (not his real name) was found by police and taken to Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow. He told immigration officials he was 15 but they did not believe him.
“I was held in a room with several adults and I was scared to go to sleep,” he said. After two weeks in detention, the Refugee Council’s Children Section managed to get Rauf out while he was being assessed by social services. Finally, his given age was accepted.
“There are no words to describe the horror of detention: it was a prison...” he said.Yeah, yeah, but no-one was shelling you, or murdering your relatives, or preventing you from getting fed and clothed and educated at someone else’s expense, were they?
So a bit of gratitude wouldn’t come amiss.