Published: 12:42, 18 August 2020
| Updated: 14:35, 18 August 2020
Migrant children crossing the Channel will be left with Border Force from now on, it has been revealed, as Kent County Council has announced it has reached capacity.
The council has said it “cannot safely accommodate any more new arrivals” meaning the youngsters will remain in Dover.
The authority's resources such as social workers, independent reviewing officers, care workers and suitable accommodation have been “exhausted” by the ongoing crisis.
It will therefore now be up to Border Force to identify another UK local authority with capacity to safely care for them for which they can be transferred into the care of.
Lucy Morton, professional officer for ISU - The Union for Borders, Immigration & Customs explained: "Border Force only has detention space that's not suitable for children so it's a matter of brockering with other county councils around the country.
"In the past it has been possible to move children over to Surrey and Sussex, assuming a deal can be done.
"But that's down to the politicians."
It was the arrival of more unaccompanied migrant children over the weekend that “tipped the balance”, council leader Roger Gough said on Sunday.
This is despite efforts to work with the Home Office and other local authorities, he added.
Meetings between the council and government are under way in an effort to find a resolution today, the council said.
Charities have since criticised Home Secretary Priti Patel’s actions in recent weeks, saying the situation is “deeply worrying” and “entirely preventable”.
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “It is deeply worrying that this entirely preventable situation has occurred.
“Instead of ensuring that unaccompanied child refugees are provided with essential support when they arrive in the UK, the Home Secretary has spent the last few weeks trashing the UK’s proud record of helping the world’s most vulnerable and trying to turn this situation into a Trumpian culture war.
“Priti Patel needs to show some moral leadership and quit the playground politics.”
Migrant charity worker Bridget Chapman, of the Kent Refugee Action Network, said: “KCC have been warning for some time that without additional support from central government they would reach this point.
“Our main priority is to ensure that vulnerable children are properly cared for and we urge the Government to urgently work with KCC to find a way forward.
“We are now in a position whereby it’s not clear what will happen to unaccompanied children arriving in Dover from now on. That is clearly unacceptable and needs to be resolved immediately.”