Labour MPs raise concerns over welfare of child migrants

A Labour MP has urged the Government to publish the details of how many incidents of violence or sexual assault against children have occurred in hotels used to house asylum seekers.

Stella Creasy, the MP for Walthamstow, said “more cases have come to light” of children allegedly being sexually assaulted in hotels for migrants.

Speaking during an urgent question in the Commons, she added: “Can he (the minister) publish the details of all these cases, including how many incidents of violence or sexual assault against children in these hotels have occurred in the last year?

“What action has been taken and crucially, what safeguarding the private companies running these companies have to undertake because if he won’t publish that, it tells us what he thinks about these children.”

Responding, Home Office minister Robert Jenrick said he takes his “responsibilities to children, whether accompanied or otherwise, very seriously”, adding: “We have put in place a wide range of support mechanisms.

“I mentioned earlier, the work that we are doing for unaccompanied children, the hotels there, most of which are in Kent, have extremely sophisticated support, which is in fact costing the taxpayer up to £500 a night for that accommodation, which gives the honourable lady a degree of the support that we are making available.

“The best thing that she could do would be to support her local authority and encourage others to take more unaccompanied children and families into good quality local authority accommodation, or to find them foster care in the community.”

Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) accused the Government of “staggering levels of child neglect”.

Mr Jenrick responded: “I would object to the suggestion that the UK Government is being inhumane towards children.

“These are children who are coming across the Channel against our best wishes. They’re coming either with their families – who are choosing to put them through this uniquely perilous journey – or in some cases unaccompanied. We are doing absolutely everything we can to support them when they arrive here.

“But of course it’s a difficult challenge. How would it be easy for the Government to help hundreds of unaccompanied children when they arrive at sea and then require foster care and support?

“It was always going to be a difficult challenge and we see that in our constituencies when we hear of the shortage of foster care or concerns about local authority accommodation for young people.

“That is a national issue which is exacerbated by the sheer quantity of young people who are coming across in this way.”