Dozens of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been kidnapped from a Brighton hotel run by the U.K. government’s Home Office, according to a whistleblower. These children are at high risk of being trafficked into exploitation.
After the government revealed in October that 200 children were unaccounted for, the number of disappearances from government hotels has continued to rise despite repeated warnings from the police.
Children abducted off the street
Criminal organizations are targeting children who have arrived in the U.K. without a parent or guardian. The government houses many unaccompanied minors in hotels before transferring them to council care while their asylum claim is processed. In these hotels, they are highly vulnerable to trafficking.
A whistleblower from a Home Office contractor and child protection services have raised the alarm, with one Observer source claiming:
Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found. They’re being taken from the street by traffickers.
This is not an isolated incident
The abductions are not only happening in one town, but across the south coast of England, with one source estimating as many as 10% of the minors at a hotel in Hythe, Kent, were going missing each week.
A hotel in Sussex reported that 136 of the 600 children that have passed through in the last 18 months have gone missing – 79 have still not been accounted for.
The Home Office has received repeated warnings from the police that the children in these hotels would be targeted and yet, the numbers continue to rise. Furthermore, it has emerged that the government has given the police no new guidance for tracking down the missing children.
An outcry for action
The shadow home secretary, Yvetter Cooper, has commented on the situation, describing it as “truly appalling and scandalous” and has urged the government to make public exactly how many children have gone missing and what follow-up action the government was taking.
It is a total dereliction of duty for the Home Office to so badly fail to protect child safety or crack down on the dangerous gangs putting them in terrible risk. Ministers must urgently put new protection arrangements in place.
Freedom United supports the call for the government to urgently address this situation and better protect adults and children from exploitation and trafficking.