Family court asked to protect unaccompanied children

Article 39 was in the High Court (Family Division) last Friday (24 March) seeking the court’s protection for unaccompanied children who have gone missing from a hotel run by the Home Office in Brighton and Hove. Through these proceedings, we are asking the family court to consider making individual children a ward of court, a process through which a children’s guardian would be appointed for each child. This first hearing revealed that 66 children remain missing from this single hotel. The Home Office is currently housing unaccompanied children in seven different hotels.

Carolyne Willow, Article 39’s Director, said:

“We are pleased that the family court has taken our application seriously, and the Home Office is having to account for the high level of very vulnerable children who remain missing from the hotels it runs. We continue to be gravely concerned about the safety and welfare of individual children who should have each been provided a safe and protective home within the children’s care system when they arrived in the UK without any parent or carer.

As a small charity, we continue to be very grateful to the Good Law Project for supporting this vital legal action. Unaccompanied children arriving on our shores are among the most vulnerable children in the world, having frequently gone through the most devastating and traumatic loss and suffering.

If passed, the Illegal Migration Bill will empower the Home Secretary to accommodate even more children outside the care system, and will reintroduce the routine detention of children, which was ended nearly a decade ago after extensive evidence of children suffering serious physical, emotional and psychological harm. Our application to the family court was made knowing that each child’s welfare would be paramount. The best interests of children should equally underpin all legislation affecting this highly vulnerable group of children, which is why we implore parliamentarians to reject the Bill’s cruel and retrograde provisions.”  

Reporting restrictions were lifted so that journalist Hannah Summers could write about the hearing. Read her piece in the Guardian here.

The Good Law Project is crowdfunding to support our legal costs. More here.