The United Kingdoms largest professional association for social workers, BASW, are discouraging members from conducting age assessments on asylum seekers.
With the implementation of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 a new agency the National Age Assessment Board (NAAB) has been established. Gradually the responsibility for age assessments will move from local authorities to NAAB.
BSAW has shared that they have concerns that "since the NAAB is part of the Home Office and therefore accountable to the Home Secretary, this could lead to age assessment work being influenced by political priorities such as reducing immigration, with worrying implications for child welfare."
They added that "The Home Office is currently recruiting social workers to join the NAAB. However, BASW is discouraging our members, as well as other social workers from applying for, or taking up, age assessment roles in the NAAB."
BASW Chief Executive, Ruth Allen said: “The Home Office directly employing social workers to carry out age assessments of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is a risk to professional objectivity and could compromise the judgment of social workers.”
Referring to comments made by the home secretary, Suella Braverman, that individuals pretend to be child asylum seekers to exploit the system, Allen said: “Previous statements by the home secretary have undermined confidence that age assessments could be carried out in a Home Office agency that is free from political interference.”
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