refugee children, asylum seekers

Hundreds of children have been kidnapped from a hotel run by the Home Office, it has been revealed. 

A report published by the Observer revealed that asylum-seeking children have been kidnapped by gangs in Brighton, and this is not the first time children have been snatched from a Home Office hotel.

A whistleblower, who works for Home Office contractor Mitie said the children have been abducted and bundled into cars.

The source explained to reporters: “Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found. They’re being taken from the street by traffickers.”

Of the 600 children being held at the hotel, 136 have gone missing. It is unclear how old these children are or whether there was anyone assisting them at the hotel. 

Shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, described the situation as ‘appalling’ and ‘scandalous’.

She added: “Suella Braverman [the home secretary] has failed to act on the repeated warnings she has been given about totally inadequate safeguards for children in their care.

“It is a total dereliction of duty for the Home Office to so badly fail to protect child safety or crackdown on the dangerous gangs putting them at terrible risk. Ministers must urgently put new protection arrangements in place.”

The Home Office denied children were taken from its hotel and claimed that youngsters were free to leave its accommodation.

However, the Mitie whistleblower also described witnessing children being in effect trafficked from a similar hotel run by the Home Office in Hythe, Kent, estimating that 10% of its youngsters disappeared each week.

Some of the children that have gone missing from the Brighton hotel may have been trafficked as far away as Manchester and Scotland. One case is under investigation by the Metropolitan police in London.

The claims are supported by 2022 data which shows that 222 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were missing from hotels run by the Home Office. Ministers admitted that they had no idea of their whereabouts.

No new guidance for police has been issued for tracking down missing asylum-seeking children, with sources saying it remains in “development”.

Responding to the revelations, the Home Office claimed: “Local authorities have a statutory duty to protect all children, regardless of where they go missing from. On the concerning occasion when a child goes missing, they work closely with other local agencies, including the police, to urgently establish their whereabouts and ensure they are safe.

“We have robust safeguarding procedures in place to ensure all children in our care are as safe and supported as possible as we seek urgent placements with a local authority.”

These new developments are indicative of a system that continuously refuses to protect vulnerable children from exploitation once they arrive in the UK. 

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