Children seeking asylum were ‘kidnapped from Home Office hotels’, investigation claims

Vulnerable youngsters in the country without parents or carers have gone missing

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Saturday 21 January 2023 23:11 GMT
<p>An investigation has revealed that children seeking asylum are being kidnapped from Home Office hotels</p>

An investigation has revealed that children seeking asylum are being kidnapped from Home Office hotels

Children seeking asylum are being abducted in their dozens from Home Office hotels, an investigation has claimed.

The vulnerable children - who are in the UK without parents or carers- are allegedly being kidnapped from the streets outside of the Brighton hotel, a whistleblower who works for Home Office contractor Mitie told The Observer.

According to reports, 136 children who have stayed in the hotel over the last 18 months have been reported missing.

An Observer investigation revealed that 79 children- which is over half of those missing- remain unaccounted for.

“Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found. They’re being taken from the street by traffickers,” the whistleblower told the paper.

The source also claimed they witnessed similar trafficking occuring in another hotel run by the Home Office in Hythe, Kent and estimated that around 10 per cent of the children have disappeared every week.

The children may have been taken as far as Manchester and Scotland, the source suggested.

The Home Office had reportedly been warned that asylum-seeking children would be targeted by gangs.

Labour’s shadow secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the revelation is “truly appalling and scandalous”.

She said:“It is a total dereliction of duty for the Home Office to so badly fail to protect child safety or crack down on the dangerous gangs putting them in terrible risk. Ministers must urgently put new protection arrangements in place.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Local authorities have a statutory duty to protect all children, regardless of where they go missing from. In the concerning occasion when a child goes missing, they work closely with other local agencies, including the police, to urgently establish their whereabouts and ensure they are safe.

“Ending the use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum seeking-children is an absolute priority, and we have robust safeguarding procedures in place to ensure all children in our care are as safe and supported as possible as we seek urgent placements with a local authority.”

Brighton and Hove city council added: “We have been actively involved when any child is reported missing and have worked with the police and other agencies to try to trace them.”

Sussex Police have been contacted for comment.

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