Missing People’s statement on unaccompanied asylum seekers

The issue of unaccompanied asylum seekers has been widely debated in the past few days. However, it is sadly a long-standing, entrenched and large-scale issue.

Thousands of children arrive in the UK each year who are seeking asylum or have been trafficked into the country, having faced dangerous journeys to get here. Many are forced into exploitation. Once missing, many of these young people remain missing after months or even years.

Missing People and ECPAT UK have undertaken research studies into the issue. Our most recent report, When Harm Remains (2022) found that:

  • The number of identified or suspected trafficked children, who have gone missing from local authority care, increased 25% from 284 in 2018 to 378 in 2020
  • That means almost 1 in 3 (31%) of those children went missing in 2020
  • This makes trafficked children the most at-risk group of going missing in the UK.

You can read the full research, and recommendations, here.

Missing People wants to help make change. We will be working with professionals from the police, local authorities, and the charity sector, to develop good practice guidance for preventing vulnerable unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from going missing, and for investigating when they do go, to ensure more children are found safely. The guidance will be published later this year.