Fears child asylum seekers are being trafficked after vanishing from Sussex hotel

Latest figures show 222 young asylum seekers have gone missing without a trace including 79 from one hotel in Hove. Credit: PA

It's been claimed hundreds of young asylum seekers are going missing from hotels in the south as they wait for their claims to be processed.

A whistle blower alleges that the Home Office ignored warnings and says many of the youngsters are being taken by traffickers.

Latest figures show 222 young asylum seekers have gone missing without a trace including 79 from one hotel in Hove.

Thousands of young people have arrived on the south coast beaches many of them unaccompanied minors making the trip across the Channel.

The Home Office then finds the asylum seekers accommodation, often in hotels. It's then the responsibility of councils look after their safety.

Councillor Bella Sankey, Brighton and Hove Council, Labour, said: "Some of these children may lose their lives, it's that serious.

"There has been an absolute failure of child safe guarding. This is a child safe guarding catastrophe and it's not comparable to anything we have seen in modern times."

Peter Kyle, MP Hove, Labour, added: "We know what's happening.

"We know where these children will likely be. They will be in criminal gangs. Let's be blunt about what that means, it means the boys will be pushing drugs and it means that the girls will by all likelihood be drifting into some kind of sex work.

"This is what is happening in our country. People in Parliament voted against the measures that could have kept these kids safe. Why? Because if it was any of their children, one of their children that had gone missing. Believe me the law would have changed."

Lord Murray Home Office minister says residents are asked to sign in and out of their accommodation and any suspicious activity identified by security contractors is reported.

He added: "There are many reasons why children go missing and there's no basis upon which to make generalisations as to their reasoning."

Tim Loughton MP said: "The Home Office needs to get a better handle of exactly where all these children are.

"They are mostly 16 and 17 year olds so they are not very young children but they are children. If they have done a flit to go and stay with family and friends the Home Office need to have a better handle on where they have gone to to make sure they are safe.

"But for those who are not accounted for, they are the really worrying ones and we've got to monitor them much more closely before they fall into the hands of criminal gangs."

A Home Office spokesperson explained: “Local authorities have a statutory duty to protect all children, regardless of where they go missing from.

"In the concerning occasion when a child goes missing, they work closely with other local agencies, including the police, to urgently establish their whereabouts and ensure they are safe. 

“Ending the use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum seeking-children is an absolute priority, and we have robust safeguarding procedures in place to ensure all children in our care are as safe and supported as possible as we seek urgent placements with a local authority.”

They added: "It is not true to say that unaccompanied asylum seeking children are being kidnapped from Home Office hotels."

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