Child refugees from Calais are being forced to live in a former detention centre because the Home Office refused to enact a resettlement strategy to safely house unaccompanied minors. Despite months of warnings from the French authorities that the Calais camp would close the Home Office elected not to act on a plan designed and agreed by local councils to ensure vulnerable child refugees were adequately housed when they came to Britain.
A source close to the process said: “Politically, the Home Office did not want this to happen, so it didn’t do anything. Therefore as the camp comes to closure it’s a panic – all the work you should have done over three to six months you do over three to six hours. They cannot place the child in a number of cases because none of the checks have been done.”
Andy Elvin, chief executive of Tact, the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity with more than 500 carers, said: “It’s embarrassing for a developed nation not to have managed this more professionally. We’re not even talking about a massive number of children.”
The failure to prepare adequately means some child refugees have been forced to stay at a “pre-departure” immigration detention unit called Cedars, near Gatwick airport. Cedars was shut by the government in July following criticism over the policy of imprisoning children and family awaiting removal from the country.