Scottish Refugee Council launches guidance to help social workers assess age of young people seeking asylum
We launch guidance to help social workers age assess young people seeking asylum
Age assessment guidance aimed at helping vulnerable young asylum seekers get the right support, is being launched today (Wednesday 13 June) by Scottish Refugee Council and Glasgow City Council.
A first for the UK
The practice guidance, which is a first in the UK, is aimed at helping social workers in Scotland to conduct the difficult task of accurately assessing the age of young asylum seekers.
Young people often arrive seeking asylum without any documentation showing their age; may not know their age or their appearance makes it hard to judge. Correct age assessment is vital in order to ensure that they get the protection and support that they need.
Age assessment - extremely difficult
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.
Training social workers across Scotland
50 social workers across Scotland today will be trained on using the guidance. We have also produced a leaflet for young people to help them understand the age assessment process.
COSLA has been working with partners on developing an information sharing protocol for use by local authorities and UKBA. This will help ensure that there is consistency and improvements in the information shared by local authorities with UKBA on the results of an age assessment.
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.
"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."