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									UK Border Agency Children’s Champion


Lisa Killham

Refugee Council Conference

10 October 2012
                 The Children’s Champion




    “There shall be a senior member of staff (the “Children’s Champion”)
    who is responsible to the Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency for:
        promoting the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of
         children throughout the UK Border Agency;
        offering advice and support to UK Border Agency staff in issues
         relating to children; and
        identifying and escalating issues of concern.”

                 Para 2.9, Statutory guidance to the UK Border Agency on making
                 arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children




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                The Office of the Children’s Champion: what
                do we do?


 Champion the interests of children within UKBA and Border Force

 Seek to promote a change in agency culture in respect of children

 Provide the agency with professional child welfare advice (from
  seconded social workers) on a case-by-case and a strategic basis

 Manage UKBA training on Keeping Children Safe

 Advise on the interests of children in policy development (but we
  don’t own policy)

 “Sponsor” the Independent Family Returns Panel

 Advise on relationships with local authorities
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                The Office of the Children’s Champion: how
                do we do it?



 We act as a critical friend to the Agency – offering support, advice
  and challenge, and escalating where necessary

 We are not independent and we do not make decide cases

 Our aim is to work with business areas and to support them in
  carrying out their functions taking account of the need to
  safeguard and promote the welfare of children

 This involves close working with, and through, operational line
  management, and safeguarding leads across UKBA and Border
  Force.

 We operate an inbox for casework queries (c 80 cases a month)
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                The UK Border Agency & children: increasing
                priority



 November 2009: coming into force of section 55 of the Borders,
  Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (the children’s duty)

 May 2010: Coalition commitment to end the detention of children
  for immigration purposes and subsequent review

 December 2010: closure of Yarl’s Wood to children

 March 2011: national roll-out of the new family returns process




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                      Family returns process:
                      key elements (rolled out 1 March 2011)

                            Assisted                Required                 Ensured
    1   Decision        2                       3                        4
                             Return                  Return                   Return


 Creation of          • Every family has a   • Families are offered   • New Independent
  specialist family      family conference      the chance to            Family Returns
  case-owners in         to explain return      manage their own         Panel advises on
  every region (or       options, including     return with a self       individual plans for
  access to              AVR (Refugee           check-in removal         ensured returns
  specialism)            Action), and
                         manage barriers                               • New options for
                                                                         ensured return
                                                                         include Cedars
                                                                         pre-departure
                                                                         accommodation
                                                                         (Barnardo’s)




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                The UK Border Agency & children: wider
                gains



 Children’s issues have much higher profile within the agency
  (including through senior safeguarding leads and Deputy Chief
  Executive)

 Better relationships with local authorities and other statutory
  partners (LSCBs)

 Better engagement with families (family conferences)

 More scrutiny, challenge and partnership working (Independent
  Family Returns Panel and Barnardo’s)




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                The UK Border Agency & children: going
                forward



 Responding to recommendations in the annual report of the
  Independent Family Returns Panel (published 19 September)

 Independent evaluation of the family returns process (currently
  underway)

 UNHCR audit of decision-making in family cases (currently
  underway)

 Thematic inspection by Independent Chief Inspector of Borders
  and Immigration of the treatment of unaccompanied children
  arriving in the UK.



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                The UK Border Agency & children: going
                forward



 Unaccompanied children can be especially vulnerable – hence
  tailored process with additional safeguards.

 Important that those in the asylum process understand what is
  happening to them and are able to present their case.

 Looking at how people gain access to the asylum process and the
  information provided to them to ensure they understand what is
  expected of them.

 Within that, looking at the specific needs of children in the asylum
  process – setting up meeting with NGOs to listen to your views.



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            The UK Border Agency & children: going
            forward




What do you think?

Want to hear your views




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