Teenage asylum seeker goes missing after being brought to Angus under Home Office scheme

Posted: 5th June 2023

The youngster was one of seven living locally under a Home Office scheme to protect children from falling into the hands of traffickers.

Council officials say the project has been working well and the other youngsters are settled in the area.

But they do not know where the teenager – who was over 16 – has gone.

The young person is the subject of a partnership child protection investigation.

And there has been a warning over the cost to the council of bringing more children to the county.

What is the programme which has brought the children to Angus?

The Home Office began the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) from July 2021.

It operates across local authorities in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Angus Council agreed its involvement in September 2021 as part of a national rota across Scotland.

It’s designed to help unaccompanied children who arrive in the UK.

Many have been left traumatised by long and dangerous journeys where they may have been at risk of abuse and exploitation.

Since 2021, 3,432 children transferred under the NTS – 233 into Scottish local authority care.

Angus residents were asked to consider taking a youngster in.

Scheme’s success locally

Council child protection leader Kirsty Lee said: “Angus Council has received seven young people through the NTS.

“All have been aged 16 or 17 and been accommodated in supported lodgings and independent flats.

“Our approach has been to support young people to make connections.

“We have found significant benefit from some being placed in housing close together to enable mutual support.

“Sourcing appropriate care arrangements continues to be a significant challenge both locally and nationally.

“It is estimated that 30% of young people in the NTS are now below the age of 16.

“It is highly likely we will be required to receive younger children over the course of the coming year.

“This will result in increased demand for family based care and/or residential places.

“The local demand for both foster and residential care currently outstrips provision.”

Multi-agency investigation over missing youngster

She added: “One of the identified risks on arrival in the United Kingdom is from organised trafficking and exploitation.

“In some cases, a child’s journey will have been facilitated by an organised gang for the purpose of exploitation and involvement in criminal activity.

“To keep children arriving through the NTS safe, emphasis is placed on initial relationship building and engagement with new arrivals in Angus including supported pick up from the transfer point.

“Since the commencement of the NTS, one young person accommodated in Angus has gone missing.

“A partnership child protection response was instigated immediately.

“The young person has not returned to Angus.”

Proactive approach

Ms Lee continued: “The next 12 months are likely to be increasingly challenging.

“We have excellent relationships with national colleagues and take a proactive approach…as opposed to waiting ‘our turn’ on the rota.

“Should we have to place children in fostering or residential provision where the weekly cost is greater, it is likely the current budget will come under pressure.”

Councillors have asked officials to bring forward a report on any significant budget issues which arise from the council’s NTS commitment.

Source: The Courier

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