Child asylum seekers could be kept under lock and key

Child asylum seekers could be placed under lock and key to stop them falling into the hands of criminal gangs and traffickers, say social services chiefs.
Kent County Council is weighing up a scheme that would involve vulnerable children arriving in the county being placed in a specialised care home on a short term basis to prevent them going missing.
Cllr Jenny Whittle, KCC cabinet member for specialist children's services, acknowledged that the move could be politically controversial but said the accommodation would not revive the concept of detention centres.
These were heavily criticised and the government moved to close them
after complaints about the welfare of children.

Cllr Whittle said: "We have to find a way of stopping children ending up
in the hands of smugglers.

"There are two reasons why child asylum seekers go missing - when they get close to the age of 18: they realise they need to make a fresh claim [to stay in the country].
And of the 26 who went missing last year, two thirds were from countries where trafficking was rife. If you have a child coming in from, say, China or
Algeria, there is likely to be a bounty on their head.

"I want to do a trial. We know the first four to six weeks are crucial
and give us a chance to build up relationships. We know that a lot who go missing end up meeting traffickers who are going to exploit them."

She said KCC was examining options for a secure home in a rural setting.
"This is not another Yarlswood [a detention centre]."
The issue of vulnerable children going missing was highlighted in a report by the independent Kent Safeguarding Children Board earlier this year. In its annual report, it warned that the number of vulnerable children going missing and not returning was a "serious concern as these children are especially vulnerable to exploitation."
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