Portsmouth has three times more child asylum seekers than it should

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson

PORTSMOUTH has three times more child asylum seekers than it should have, it has been revealed.

The city currently has 100 children claiming asylum in the city – three times more than it should have, which is significantly higher than other ports like Southampton.

Hampshire, meanwhile, has also seen a steep rise with it having 259, up from 137 last year, the BBC reported.

The Home Office has said the country has a ‘proud history of hosting and supporting’ child asylum seekers following the migration crisis.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council Gerald Vernon-Jackson wrote to the minister for immigration, MP Caroline Nokes, in July urging for a review of the the national transfer scheme which is a system for local authorities dealing with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs).

The scheme was put in place to transfer the children to authorities that have the capacity and resources to look after them.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson acknowledged Portsmouth had seen a steep rise in the number of UASCs arriving in the city – a proportionally higher rate than other councils of nearby areas such as Southampton and Hampshire. 

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said in July: 'I have written to the minister of state for immigration inviting her to meet with me and discuss this important issue.

‘It's vital that the government understands the complexities involved, especially against an ever-decreasing council budget, and the pressures that small authorities are under to handle the situation.

'We are more than willing to do our part and ensure the care of these vulnerable young people, but there needs to be a fairer system that spreads the responsibility more equally.

'With our current ‘prevent’ priority status we have so far been able to provide resources through our own foster carers and social workers, but with funding due to end this financial year it's imperative that we tackle this issue now before it's too late.'