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(Administrative Court; James Goudie QC sitting as a Deputy Judge, Queen's Bench Division; 17 July 2008)
The young person, who claimed to be 15 years old, arrived from Pakistan illegally and with a false passport, claiming asylum. The first authority assessed him as being over 18, and referred him to the Home Office agencies. He was moved a number of times but was eventually detained within the area of the second authority. Evidence was produced to support the young person's claim to be 15 years old and the immigration judge held that he was a child; the second authority refused to conduct another age assessment, arguing that this was the responsibility of the first authority. The young person was released from the adult detention facility into the temporary care of the second authority but, at the young person's request, the second authority transported him to the first authority and left him there. The first authority was now caring for him on the basis that he was an adult, and that he was still the responsibility of the second authority.
The first authority's responsibility for the young person had ceased when he moved out of its area, and the second authority had been wrong to refuse to conduct a further age assessment after the immigration judge's ruling that the young person was a child. However, when the young person left the second authority, travelling to the first authority in accordance with his own clear wishes, the responsibility of the second authority came to an end. It made no difference that the move had been assisted by the second authority; the second authority had not been acting for any improper purpose. The young person was a putative child in need, within the first authority's area, who required accommodation as result of there being no person with parental responsibility for him. Pending completion of a further age assessment, the young person should be accommodated as a child.
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