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New good practice guidance issued on conducting lawful age assessments

New good practice guidance has been published aimed at assisting frontline social workers in conducting age assessments of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.

The document was put together by a consortium of partners co-ordinated by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), with representatives from local and central government, health, the police and a number of non-governmental organisations collaborating with social workers and practitioners.

The ADCS highlighted how to date good practice had been largely established through case law following legal challenges.

"The guidance brings together the fundamental elements of what constitutes a lawful assessment whilst acknowledging the challenges social workers face in their day to day work and promoting best practice," it said. "It contains practical advice on preparing for, and conducting, age assessments, as well as a range of useful resources covering issues such as trafficking, trauma and memory, and legislation and case law."

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The document, which can be viewed here, forms part of a suite of publications including the ADCS and Home Office Age Assessment Joint Working Guidance and the Information Sharing Proforma.

Paul Greenhalgh, Chair of the ADCS Asylum Taskforce, said: “I am proud of the Association’s role in developing this important guidance. I hope that it will enable social workers to feel more confident and supported in this difficult task. I am grateful to the busy practitioners who have shared their insight and expertise to help their fellow professionals.”

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “It is critically important to the lives of many hundreds of young unaccompanied asylum-seekers who arrive in the UK each year that the age assessment process is as accurate and fair as possible. Those who are children must be treated as such – ensuring they get the support and security they need. That is why I am pleased to support the new age assessment guidance from ADCS and encourage social workers to make use of it.”

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