Call for Devon to help care for child asylum-seekers arriving in Kent

Calls have been made for Devon to help care for child asylum-seekers amid a rise in the number arriving alone in Kent.

Council chiefs in the South East county say it does not have the capacity for more unaccompanied young migrants, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

They have added that responsibility lies across England under the National Transfer Scheme which aims to create a more even distribution of caring responsibilities.

Under the initiative, a child arriving in one local authority area which is already under strain may be transferred to another council with capacity.

Devon councillor Gordon Hook, who represents the Newton Abbot South ward, has suggested that the county can offer some help.

The Liberal Democrat said: “If Kent County Council has reached capacity over the ability to accept any more refugee children, may I suggest that Devon County Council (DCC) offers Kent some practical help with this humanitarian problem, if we are in a position to accept some children here in Devon, if only on a temporary basis?

“I believe this to be an extremely urgent issue and would like to think Devon could play a part in offering practical help in this crisis.”

In response, a DCC spokesperson said: “We are part of the Government’s National Transfer Scheme which enables unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to move safely from the local authority they arrive in to another one.

“Through this scheme we supported a significant number of vulnerable children when the Calais refugee camps were closed in 2016, and we continue to accept referrals.”

More than 400 children, most arriving in Dover across the English Channel by small boat, have entered the Kent’s care so far this year.

Under-18s arriving in the county alone are passed into the care of the local authority, with a small number later transferred to other councils that volunteer to help.

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