New guidance on conducting age assessments has been published by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. The work has been done in co-operation with the Home Office and the new guidelines will be of critical importance in age assessment disputes.
Some background from the ADCS website:
A consortium of partners co-ordinated by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has produced good practice guidance aimed at assisting frontline social workers in conducting age assessments of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.
Representatives from local and central government, health, the police and a number of non-government organisations have collaborated with experienced social workers and practitioners on this piece of work which brings together the fundamental elements of what constitutes a lawful assessment whilst promoting best practice. 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. Young people with experience of age assessments were consulted and some of their reflections appear in the final document.
This document forms part of a suite of publications including the ADCS and Home Office Age Assessment Joint Working Guidance and the Information Sharing Proforma.
The new guidance seeks to reduce stress and distress for children. It emphasises that age assessments need not be carried out in every case, that young people should not be subjected to multiple assessments for administrative purposes only and that, even where assessments are unavoidable, in-depth interviews will not always be required:
…it may be possible to use information which you have already gathered, for example, as part of your Looked After Child (LAC) assessments, rather than conducting further in-depth interviews which may cause unnecessary distress to the child or young person.
The full list of publications, with links, is as follows: