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Home Office and city council facing legal challenge over age assessments at Kent Intake Unit

The High Court has granted permission for a legal challenge over the lawfulness of the Home Office’s policy on age assessments at Kent Intake Unit (KIU).

Doughty Street Chambers said the claimants were two unaccompanied asylum-seeking putative children who were the subject of short-form age assessments at KIU finding them to be adults.

These age assessments were then relied upon by Coventry City Council to refuse the provision of Children Act 1989 support and accommodation. 

Doughty Street said the judicial review challenges the Home Office’s reliance upon the KIU assessments to dispute the claimants’ ages for the purpose of their asylum claim on the basis that they are not lawful or Merton compliant assessments.

It also challenges the lawfulness of the policy governing age assessment at KIU and the fact that both claimants were unlawfully detained at KIU.

The claim further challenges Coventry’s “failure to provide support and accommodation to the claimants as in breach of duties under the Children Act 1989 and on the basis that Coventry acted unreasonably in relying on the KIU assessments without making reasonable enquiries to determine age for itself”.

Since September 2020, the Home Office implemented a policy (Kent Intake Unit Social Worker Guidance) whereby asylum-seekers claiming to be children at KIU are age assessed by social workers employed by the Home Office. 

“This is a significant departure from the practice of referring those claiming to be children for a local authority age assessment,” Doughty Street said.

Both of the claimants in the linked cases were granted urgent interim relief requiring Coventry City Council to accommodate them in accordance with their claimed ages. The linked cases will be heard together over 2 days on a date to be fixed.

Antonia Benfield of Doughty Street is instructed by Martin Bridger of Instalaw Solicitors on behalf of both Claimants with the Refugee Council acting as litigation friend.

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