Age Assessment Guidance (Please click to read full article)
Do you need to undertake this assessment?
Is it absolutely necessary to undertake this assessment?
A needs assessment should be separate from an age assessment (though the age assessment may help to inform the needs assessment)
Statutory guidance on the care of unaccompanied children states that ‘Age assessments should only be carried out where there is significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child. Age assessments should not be a routine part of a local authority’s assessment of unaccompanied or trafficked children.’1
This guidance is also relevant where all parties accept that the young person is a child but where the age of the child is not clear. Many young people will not be able to provide evidence as to their age, and some may not even know their own chronological age. In these circumstances an assessment will rarely produce significant information which will lead to a conclusive and certain decision, so the assessment can be unhelpful and unnecessary. Any assessment should be limited to the minimum necessary to ensure the young person is getting the appropriate services and educational support. In other circumstances the young person will be able to produce clear information about their age for example from documents or from reference to education. Lengthy assessments which ask young people difficult and distressing questions should be avoided unless you are clear that this is likely to be helpful and productive.
However, there may be occasions when you do not feel that an age assessment is necessary but the Home Office are requesting an assessment before they will treat the young person as a child in the immigration process. In these circumstances you may need to negotiate with the Home Office to explain why the young person should be treated as a child without further assessment, or conduct an assessment sufficient to satisfy the Home Office without forcing the child to go through a repetitive and distressing process. Where this is necessary it may be possible to use information which you have already gathered, for example as part of your LAC Child in Need assessment, rather than conducting further interviews.