Guidance to help age assess young asylum seekers is launched

Age assessment guidance aimed at helping vulnerable young asylum seekers get the right support, is being launched today (Wed, 13 June) by Scottish Refugee Council and Glasgow City Council.

The guidance, which is a first in Scotland, is aimed at helping social workers to conduct the difficult task of accurately assessing the age of young asylum seekers.

Correct age assessment is vital in order to ensure that they get the protection and support that they need.

Difficult task

The task is extremely difficult because research has consistently shown that there is no medical way of accurately assessing the age of young people.

Scottish Refugee Council has long raised concerns a lack of consistency, which has led to vulnerable young people finding themselves lost in the complex asylum system.

Together with Glasgow City Council and partners including COSLA, the Scottish Government and UKBA, we have taken practical steps to help ensure that all young people are correctly age assessed from the outset.

From today, 50 social workers across Scotland will be trained on using the guidance.

we hope this work will play a significant role in improving the lives of the young people seeking protection in Scotland" - Clare Tudor, Scottish Refugee Council

Clare Tudor, Children’s Policy Officer, Scottish Refugee Council said: “Age is a critical factor in asylum and immigration law as well as welfare law. A wrong decision made by authorities can have serious implications for how a young person will be treated in Scotland.

“While this is still an evolving piece of work, we feel it is a big step towards making age assessment more transparent, child-focussed, consistent and ultimately fairer.

“Above all we hope this work will play a significant role in improving the lives of the young people seeking protection in Scotland.”

Councillor Matt Kerr, Glasgow City Council's Executive Member for Social Care, said: "We are fortunate in Glasgow to have specialist social workers handling the highly complex and challenging issue of age assessment.

Improved standards

"Many of these young people arrive without any form of identification, do not know their date of birth and have never celebrated their birthday as they come from societies where age is not seen as important.

"We hope this collaborative project is an important step towards a dramatic improvement in the standard and consistency of age assessments across Scotland."

Laura Jamieson, Policy Officer for COSLA Strategic Migration Partnership, said: “COSLA welcomes the launch of the Age Assessment Guidance commissioned by the Scottish Refugee Council. 

“The combination of the Guidance and the forthcoming Information Sharing Protocol will provide local authorities with a suite of resources to utilise when assessing the age of unaccompanied minors. 

“We would also like to acknowledge the hard work of all our member councils and thank them for their commitment in the development of these supporting documents.”

For further information please contact: Karin Goodwin, Scottish Refugee Media and Communications Officer on 0141 223 7927 or 07850 930418 or Ione Campsie, Glasgow City Council Press Officer on 0141 287 0910

Notes to editors

  1. The project is funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and the Scottish Government
  2. In addition to the guidance, COSLA has been working with partners on developing an information sharing protocol for use by local authorities and UKBA. This will help ensure that local there is standardisation and improvements in the information shared by local authorities and UKBA.

The Information Sharing Protocol (ISP) facilitates the sharing of the age assessment reports between Scottish local authorities and the United Kingdom Border Agency and seeks to ensure that children and young people are protected and that their needs are appropriately assessed.  Additionally, the ISP will also bring clarity over what detail local authorities should share with UKBA and bring a consistency in approach across Scotland.  

  1. Since 1985, Scottish Refugee Council has worked to ensure all refugees in Scotland are treated fairly, with dignity and that their human rights are respected. An independent charity, we’re here to provide essential information and advice. We also campaign for political change, raise awareness about issues that affect refugees, and work closely with local communities and organisations. We run the Scottish Guardianship Service, which works with young asylum seekers, in partnership with Aberlour Childcare Trust.
  2. The Diana, Princes of Wales Memorial Fund (“the Fund”) continues the Princess’ humanitarian work in the UK and overseas. By giving grants to organisations, championing charitable causes, advocacy, campaigning and awareness raising, the Fund works to secure sustainable improvements in the lives of most of most vulnerable people in the UK and around the world. See www.theworkcontinues.org