According to government statistics, more than 3,500 adults pretended to be minors between 2016 and 2022 in order to trick the UK asylum system.
Lord Murray of Blidworth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office, said that between 2016 and September 2022, there were 7,357 asylum claims where age was challenged and later settled.
Of them, it was discovered that 3,696 of them (50%) were adults impersonating youngsters.
Today, Lord Murray remarked in a speech to the House of Lords that there is “clear evidence that many people claim to be a minor when they are not.”
He stated: “There are clear safeguarding issues which arise when a child is inadvertently accepted as an adult.”
“Equally, when an adult is wrongly accepted as a child and placed in accommodation with younger children, to whom they could present a risk.”
Adding: “Sadly, experience suggests that a large number of people have said that they are minors in order to take advantage of the perhaps more beneficial regime.”
“It’s very important for the reasons I have given that those people are weeded out by as fair a system as we can determine.”
The Home Office, however, has also been charged with changing children’s birth dates in order to categorise them as adults. Renae Mann, the Refugee Council’s executive director of services, said: “Our staff are seeing many young people aged 15, 16 and 17 who have been wrongly treated as adults by Home Office staff.
“It is only once we get involved that these children are recognised as such and are taken into local authority care.”
Added her: “This is a misuse of power by the Government. These children are very vulnerable and have been through so much already.”
However, a spokesman for the Home Office stated: “Age assessments are challenging but vital to identifying genuine asylum-seeking children and stop abuse of the system.”
“We are taking a holistic approach to prevent adults claiming to be children, or children being wrongly treated as adults – both present serious safeguarding risks to children.”
“Our reforms through the nationality and borders act aim to make assessments more consistent and robust by using scientific measures, and creating a new national age assessment board.”
“If there is doubt whether a claimant is an adult or child, they will be referred for a local authority assessment and will be treated as a child until a decision on their age is made.”
According to government migration statistics released earlier this month, net migration increased to 504,000 in the year leading up to June 2022.
The majority of the migrants in the most recent statistics are from non-EU nations, which is an increase from pre-Brexit immigration levels.
Net migration was 336,000 in the year before the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2015.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said lawmakers last month: “We have failed to control our borders. That’s why I and the Prime Minister are absolutely determined to fix this problem.”
According to the data, 9,242 Afghan refugees are still staying in hotels 15 months after arriving.