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Home Office accused of ‘dumping’ vulnerable children amid reports of abductions

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The Home Office has been accused of “dumping” vulnerable children after dozens were reported to have been abducted from hotels run by the department.

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Minister after target inspection by supervisor found that dozens of asylum-seeking children had gone missing from a Brighton hotel run by the Home Office.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick confirmed that of the 4,600 unaccompanied children who arrived in the UK since July 2021, 440 have gone missing at some point, while 200 are missing.

Of the 200, 13 are under 16 and one is female.

The vast majority—88%—are Albanians, while the remainder come from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Turkey.

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Raising an urgent question in the Commons, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas compared the plight of single children in Rotherham to that of girls who were sexually abused between 1997 and 2013.

The Brighton Pavilion MP said: “It’s terrible. Vulnerable children are being dumped by the Home Office. Many of them are going missing.”

Jenrick said the Home Office “takes our security responsibilities extremely seriously” but added that there was “no choice” but to temporarily use specialist hotels when local authority accommodation was available.

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He said the government “does not have the power to detain homeless asylum-seeker children in these settings and we know some go missing”.

Lucas replied: “We are not asking her to detain the children, we are asking the Home Office to implement some basic safeguards so that we can keep them safe.”

She accused the Home Office of “shocking complacency and incompetence” and called for an immediate investigation into the disappearance.

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“It was entirely foreseeable that children were at risk of being snatched, abducted and coerced by criminals,” she said.

“Where is the special operation to find the missing children? It sounds like the plight of the girls in Rotherham who were treated like they didn’t matter, and frankly it’s sickening.

Child protection sources and whistleblowers working for Mitty told the Observer that children were being abducted from the street outside hotels in Brighton and bundled into cars.

“Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found,” the source said. “They are being taken off the road by smugglers.”

Jenrick said that reports of kidnappings outside the hotel were “very serious allegations” and that he had asked hotel officials to inform him if there was any evidence for this.

He said: “I have not been presented with evidence that this happened, but I will continue to make inquiries and senior officers in my department will meet with the Mitti security team in the coming days to ask them: have they seen any incidents and Has the person cited in the press as an informant raised issues with Mitty?

“If they did, why weren’t those issues subsequently referred to the Home Office?

“So he has my assurance that I will not let this matter go down.”

The Immigration Minister continued: “When a child goes missing a multi-agency Missing Persons Protocol is mobilized with the police and the relevant local authority to establish their whereabouts and ensure they are safe.

“Many of those who went missing were later traced and located.”

(translated to tagged) children

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