Hertfordshire looked after over 50 child refugees in 2019

PUBLISHED: 06:58 16 March 2020

A Syrian refugee holds his young son in a refugee camp in northern Iraq.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is leading the UK’s humanitarian response to the crisis created by ISIL ( Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq, and getting life-saving aid to people across Iraq who have fled ISIL terrorists. The UK is delivering a total of £39.5million of aid.
Credit:  Andrew McConnell/Panos for DFID

A Syrian refugee holds his young son in a refugee camp in northern Iraq. The Department for International Development (DFID) is leading the UK’s humanitarian response to the crisis created by ISIL ( Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq, and getting life-saving aid to people across Iraq who have fled ISIL terrorists. The UK is delivering a total of £39.5million of aid. Credit: Andrew McConnell/Panos for DFID

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In 2019 Hertfordshire County Council looked after 58 immigrant children – down from 2018, which saw 65 unaccompanied minors or child refugees taken into care.

Some of these figures included three Iranian children, two 16-year-olds and one 15-year-old, who were found in a lorry in South Mimms before Christmas and taken into HCC care.

There are two ways a child is referred for asylum either by the police, usually when they find a child from outside the UK living here who has no parent, or via a regional transfer process.

A qualified social worker from children's services then goes to the police station, and completes a screening process alongside police colleagues according to HCC.

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They then make sure the child is safe and well and see if they are at immediate risk of trafficking or human slavery and complete an NRM (National Referral Mechanism) if needed. The child is then taken to a placement, and protection information is given to carers, including anything needed to protect the child from trafficking.

A HCC spokeswoman also explained that 'a full age assessment by qualified social workers may subsequently be completed with some young people, utilising information from interviews and partner agencies, once they have had a suitable period of rest and recuperation.

'Once the young person is placed, they are allocated a key social worker who will meet with them and health and education colleagues to create a plan of support to enable them to be integrated into the local community and their needs met.

'We take a research informed approach to support, recognising that many of these children have had extremely traumatic life experiences, and that securing their immediate basic needs for food, shelter, warmth, and a sense of safety and security are the priorities.

'Alongside this, the social worker and carer will assist them in engaging legal advice to progress all relevant applications for asylum and residence in the UK, as well as parallel planning to assist return home to family and community if it is safe to do so.

Regional transfer's follow similar same steps with needs met by the originating Local Authority and then later by the HCC. The figures were obtained through a freedom of information request by this newspaper.

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