Between January 2021 and the end of March this year, the Home Office dealt with 2,520 cases after it suspected a person claiming to be an unaccompanied child was in fact an adult – 1,626 (65 per cent) of these were found to be under 18 years and older.
The figures also show that more than half of those who identified themselves as unaccompanied children since the start of 2018 were actually adults. The total number of cases dealt with since then was 4,814, and in 2,722 (56 per cent) cases the applicant was found to be over 18 years of age.
In a written parliamentary response on the issue, Kevin Foster, Tory MP for Torbay, said: “Immigration officers working at the border have a difficult but vital role in preventing abuse of the immigration system and protecting genuine children from the risks of clearance access by adults to safe places appropriately designated for children’.
The number of people claiming to be unaccompanied children rose sharply at the end of last year as the number of Channel crossings increased.
In the last quarter of 2021, 794 cases were resolved, and 510 (64 percent) of them were determined to be adults. In the same quarter of 2020, only 225 cases were resolved, of which 128 (55 percent) were adults.
In June 2021, Kent County Council refused to accept more unaccompanied migrant children in a formal letter to the Home Office after warning that its services were at breaking point.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of the campaign group Migration Watch UK, said: “Adults who claim to be children have long been in doubt. This is why human traffickers and migrants have long used it as their ploy to get to and stay in the UK.
“This is a costly and dangerous gap in our defenses. Ahmed Hassan, the Parson’s Green bomber, lied to stay here. And you shouldn’t even think about the fact that adults are placed among children.”
A further 23 people crossed the English Channel in a small boat on Friday as the government confirmed it was pressing ahead with plans to send the migrants to Rwanda. This brings the total number of people making the crossing this year to 13,124, compared to 6,659 so far in 2021 and 2,459 in 2020.