Coram Children's Legal Centre - Migrant Children's Project - May 2012 update

Children's Legal Centre

Migrant Children's Project Newsletter
May 2012  

Welcome to the May edition of the Migrant Children's Project Newsletter. If you have any queries or feedback about the information in this newsletter or on the website, please contact us at or complete our short online survey

New Report

 The Migrant Children's Project has published a new report, 'Navigating the System: Advice provision for young refugees and migrants'. The report looks at the complex administrative and legal processes that separated children have to navigate and the range of professionals who can offer advice and guidance to them. Drawing on interviews with practitioners and cases from the Coram Children's Legal Centre's work with migrant children, the report finds that many legal advice and support services are under strain, facing serious financial challenges and an uncertain future, putting these children and young people at risk. Read the full report or the report summary.

Policy and Law

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act
The bill received Royal Assent on 1 May and thus became law. The changes contained in the Act will not affect legal aid for asylum cases or detention cases, but the Act will remove legal aid for immigration cases, including children's immigration cases. Important changes to the original bill were made during its passage through Parliament, including keeping legal aid for victims of trafficking and retaining the ability to bring areas of law back into the scope of legal aid without the need for further primary legislation. A Lords amendment to retain legal aid in all children's cases was reversed when it returned to the House of Commons on 17 April 2012.

Due to come into effect in April 2013, the changes to legal aid funding for immigration cases will, for example, affect children who have claims to stay in the UK based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (private and family life) and those with refugee family reunion claims. The Refugee Children's Consortium and others have rejected the idea, suggested by the government, that social workers could be enabled to provide immigration advice to children and young people in their care. It is possible that the changes to legal aid funding will entail cost-shifting to local authorities if they are required to procure private immigration advice for these children and young people.

As well as impacting on children and young people with immigration claims, the wider changes the government has implemented to legal aid funding for social welfare law through this Act are likely to change the landscape of legal aid provision more generally, at a time when legal advice services are already struggling and many people are in need of advice.

UK Border Agency dental x-ray trial suspended
The Home Office has announced that it has suspended its trial of dental x-rays for age assessment. The trial was announced in March, with proposals to invite individuals who had been assessed as adults by Croydon Social Services to undergo a dental x-ray. Concerns were raised by different organisations, including the Chief Medical Officer and the Children's Commissioners. Upon the suggestion of the Chief Medical Officer, the Home Office consulted the National Research Ethics Service, which concluded that the trial requires the approval of a research ethics committee before it can proceed.

Home Office appoints Family Returns Panel
The Family Returns Panel, which has operated on an interim basis since March 2011, is part of the new system introduced to reform family returns. The panel makes recommendations to the UK Border Agency on family returns and the welfare of children. Information on the 11 appointments can be viewed here.

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration - Inspection Plan for 2012-2013
John Vine's plan includes a thematic inspection on the treatment of unaccompanied children, due to take place in late 2012-early 2013

UK Border Agency statistics 

Children entering detention held solely under Immigration Act powers, March 2012 - 11 children entered immigration detention in March 2012


No Way Out, No Way In: Irregular migrant children and families in the UK
COMPAS research report, May 2012
This report, by Dr Nando Sigona and Vanessa Hughes of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford, examines the conflicting government policies governing the protection of children's rights and immigration to the UK.

All Change: Preventing Trafficking in the UK
Anti Trafficking Monitoring Group, May 2012
The report is based on an analysis of preventative measures put in place in the UK between April 2009 and June 2011. It finds the absence of a coherent prevention strategy and fragmented coordination of anti-trafficking efforts.

Annual report 2011 on Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre
Independent Monitoring Board, April 2012
The IMB highlighted concerns about 'the slow response of Hillingdon Social Services to requests for age assessments' and the holding of age-disputed young people in the prison-style induction wing (Fir), which is an 'unsatisfactory place for them'.

Work of the UK Border Agency (August-December 2011)
House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, April 2012
The committee urged the UK Border Agency to publish full information regarding the 'gentleman's agreement' between the UK and France and any similar bilateral agreements.

The 'Ground with the Least Clarity': A Comparative Study of Jurisprudential Developments relating to 'Membership of a Particular Social Group'

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, April 2012
This paper examines the interpretation of the Refugee Convention ground of 'particular social group', including children as a particular social group - see page 57.

Latest News

Children held at Heathrow in 'disgraceful' conditions
The Independent, 14 May 2012
The UK Border Agency is detaining children in 'degrading and disgraceful' conditions at Heathrow airport, according to the Independent Monitoring Board for Heathrow

With no paper trail, can science determine age?

New Scientist, 11 May 2012
Attempts to assess age with x-ray scans of teeth or wrists are doomed to failure, according to work to be published in the British Medical Bulletin

LASPO campaign continues
New Law Journal, 10 May 2012
Royal Assent fails to dampen fight against legal aid cuts in new Act

Historic trafficking cases

Free Movement blog, 3 May 2012
Blog on 'historic' trafficking cases (where circumstances have changed) and the case of R (on the application of Y) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 1075 (Admin)

Zambrano and Income Support: High Court judge scratches head
Birmingham Law Centre blog, 2 May 2012
Michael Bates on Birmingham Law Centre's income support case

Deportation: the children factor

Mulberry Finch blog, 1 May 2012 
Krishnan Nair on a Court of Appeal case concerning the best interests of a child whose father faced deportation

Border Agency halts x-ray programme for child asylum seekers
The Guardian, 27 April 2012
Agency considered it did not need ethical for plans to x-ray teeth of children to prove their age

MPs investigate why trafficked children go missing from care
Good Childhood Blog, 25 April 2012
Children's Society blog by Natalie Williams on the first session of the APPG inquiry into children who go missing or run away from care, undertaken by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

Michael Gove concerned over child x-ray trial
The Children's Services Blog, 24 April 2012
Camilla Pemberton on plans to use dental x-rays to determine the age of asylum-seeking children

Brighter Futures Award shines a light on social workers who go the extra mile
Migration Pulse, 23 April 2012
Award ceremony for social workers and support workers who have made a real difference in the lives of young refugees and asylum-seekers across London

'Thousands of children' to lose legal aid in shake-up
BBC News, 17 April 2012

Thousands of children will lose access to legal aid under government plans to shake up the system, campaigners say

Fears of upheaval as firm facing probe over asylum seeker's death wins housing deal

The Guardian, 17 April 2012
G4S among companies that will provide accommodation for people claiming refuge in Britain

Chelsea's Islam Feruz, 16, may make Scotland U21 debut
BBC Sport, 17 April 2012
The Chelsea forward, who came to Glasgow from Somalia in 2001, could become Scotland's youngest ever Under-21 player

The UK Border Agency's lack of speed is a problem. Lack of fairness is worse
Open Democracy, 15 April 2012
Following the Home Affairs Committee report, Donna Covey argues that we need a fairer, more effective asylum system

Judges signal distaste for Theresa May's human rights reform
The Telegraph, 15 April 2012
Judges have fired a warning shot against Theresa May's plan to stop foreign criminals abusing human rights laws

Gulf between asylum and benefit support leaves thousands of children in severe poverty
Left Foot Forward, 13 April 2012
Sam Royston on the Children's Society analysis of poverty among families living on asylum support

Staff deporting foreigners out of UK 'loutish and aggressive'
The Guardian, 13 April 2012
Firm hired by Home Office to deport refused asylum seekers and foreign prisoners admits its guards lack respect for minorities and women

Young migrants living 'far below poverty line'
The Guardian, 9 April 2012
Children's Society says some seekers get half of what a comparable British family would receive in income support

Theresa May pledges to end 'family rights' bar on deportation
The Guardian, 8 April 2012
Immigration rules will change to stop foreign criminals using European convention on human rights, says home secretary

When a child isn't a child
The Justice Gap, 5 April 2012
Matt Evans on the UKBA trial of dental x-rays in age dispute cases

Migrant Children's Project advice line:

0207 636 8505

Hours of operation: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10am-6pm

The Migrant Children's Project advice line offers FREE legal advice and information on all issues affecting migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children.
We offer advice to frontline professionals, carers, advocates and young people themselves.


Fourth edition of
'Seeking Support'


The fourth edition of 'Seeking Support: A guide to the rights and entitlements of separated children’ is out now - please go to to download a free copy.
This publication provides guidance for professionals and carers on how to support young refugee and migrant children to access the support to which they are entitled.

If you would like to order a free hard copy please email
Copyright © 2012 Children's Legal Centre - Migrant Children's Project, All rights reserved.