Swansea academic advises parliamentary enquiry into unaccompanied migrant children

A report published today (12 June) draws on research undertaken by a Swansea University academic into the experiences of unaccompanied migrant children in the UK.

Prof Heaven CrawleyProfessor Heaven Crawley who is Director of Swansea University’s Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR)   was appointed in November 2012 as a Specialist Adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) which is appointed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons to consider matters relating to human rights in the UK.

Professor Crawley is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading experts on the UK asylum system and has undertaken research on various aspects of the asylum process for more than 20 years. Prior to joining the University she led the Home Office’s own asylum research programme and was an Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr). Professor Crawley was recently conferred the title of Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) in recognition of her influential policy research.

Today’s report by the JCHR on the Human Rights of unaccompanied children and young people in the UK, says that in 2012 around 1,200 unaccompanied children sought asylum in the UK, and around 2,150 unaccompanied migrant children were being cared for by local authorities. The children often face difficult journeys, and can be escaping violence, abuse and exploitation.  When they arrive in the UK they often have to undergo intensive interviews for which there were too rarely interpreting facilities available. The report makes a series of recommendations relating to the assessment of age, asylum decision making and guardianship, all of which are areas in which Professor Crawley has published widely.

Professor Crawley said: “I was pleased to have been appointed a special advisor to the Committee and that their report includes recommendations in relation to asylum decision making, procedures for age assessment and guardianship that are based in part on my research over the past ten years.

“It is vital that the UK immigration system should overcome the culture of disbelief about the age of unaccompanied migrant children, have clearer decision-making about the future of children, adopt a child-focused asylum and immigration process and begin a trial of a system of guardianship for children in England and Wales similar to that which we recently evaluated in Scotland.

“If these and all the other recommendations are adopted it will indicate our commitment to the rights of all children in the UK regardless of their immigration status.”