Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile – Surviving violence, creating hope, rebuilding lives


Baobab Briefings

Age assessments – Home Office errors leaving children seeking asylum at risk

A new Freedom of Information request from the Refugee Council and Helen Bamber Foundation shows that more than 1,300 children seeking asylum were wrongly assessed as adults by the Home Office between January 2022 and June 2023.

In that period the Humans for Rights Network was aware of at least 15 cases of children, wrongly assessed as adults after cursory visual age assessment at the Dover arrival facilities, who had been jailed with adults under Section 24 and 25 of the 2022 Nationality and Borders Act.

Key findings from the Forced Adulthood joint report
Key findings from the “Forced Adulthood” Joint Report (January 2024)

Age assessment at the border simply does not work. With Parliament currently debating removing adult asylum seekers to Rwanda, it is imperative that children be correctly assessed and treated as children as they arrive. We believe at the Baobab Centre:

  • Any age assessment done upon arrival after gruesome, traumatic journeys should have temporary validity, so that children can be interviewed later when they have recovered from their journey;
  • Age assessments should be over time by multidisciplinary teams;
  • Only people assessed as significantly over 25  should be age assessed as adults by the Home Office.