• Put yourself in our shoes: considering children’s best interests in the asylum system

      Cronin, Kathryn; Sandhu, Baljeet; Kohli, Ravi K.S. (Law Centres Network, 2015-01-01)
      Data collection: Throughout 2014, 11 participating Law Centres uploaded anonymised data on 60 cases which met these selection criteria: 1. The child’s claimed age was under 18 years old at the point they claimed asylum 2. The Home Office treated the child as under 18 years old, even if local authority disputed this 3. The child was unaccompanied or separated  4. The child was seeking asylum alone, i.e. they were not a dependent on any adult’s asylum claim 5. The child’s substantive asylum interview took place between 1 December 2013 and 31 December 2014. For each case over 600 questions were asked. In addition to this, the Project ran two focus groups to obtain the views of young people who had recent experience of the asylum process in the UK.  Data analysis: This focused on ascertaining a clear picture of the related experiences of children and their legal representatives as they work together through the complex process of claiming international protection. This was set against existing national and international law and custom, highlighted throughout the report, which provides a frame of reference for lawyers seeking to promote their child clients’ best interests. Along with identifying areas of good practice by lawyers, immigration officials, statutory and voluntary care givers and other advocates, the analysis also suggested areas for improvement for those seeking to offer these children fair processes which will ensure their safety and long term security. Recommendations: The authors are aware of discussions of the limitations of the current system in the UK for deciding the future of children who arrive here on their own, and have deliberately restricted their recommendations to issues arising from information collected by lawyers working within the current systems and that are evidenced by the data collected.