S(h)ave the Children

BY JAMES CAMPBELL

This week’s furore over child refugees – some who looked more like adults than children – not only damages the future chances of genuine child refugees being welcomed by the British public; it also damages public trust in Westminster at a time when there is little trust left.

For, after the MPs’ expenses scandal and then the over-egged Project Fear prior to Brexit, there is a feeling in the autumn air that the Westminster Establishment is a self-preservation society that cares not a jot for real Britons. This feeling is exacerbated somewhat by the absence of a Government Opposition – Jeremy Corbyn and his merry band of extreme socialist lemmings seem more in search of a cliff than opposing the Tories.

As for Westminster’s perceived mouthpiece, the BBC – there is a growing loathing out there for its enforced license fee and what is seen as blatant liberal bias across BBC News & Current affairs (child sex scandals involving some of the BBC’s high-profile employees have hardly helped matters either and will not be fast forgotten).

Child refugees that are neither children nor refugees discredit the very idea of humanitarian rescue. They make a mockery of NGO’s and teary-eyed social justice warriors, like singer Lily Allen, who so vociferously promoted their plight.

Memes have been shooting around Twitter declaring “Shave the Children”.

One angry commenter noted, “Given the Left’s inability to tell the difference between a child and a grown man, you begin to understand why the BBC missed Savile’s paedophilia.”

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There’s genuine anger out there that the Government has tried to pull a fast one on the people. Again.

Meanwhile, the Home Office seems to be suffocated by its own guidance. Officials admitted the arrivals are being given asylum without any proper medical checks on their age because such checks are considered “intrusive”.

As more alleged child immigrants arrived in Britain, the Home Office said they are given the “benefit of the doubt” if their age is in question.

On the back foot, the Home Office insisted all had undergone rigorous interviews and checks on documents to try to prove they were under 18. Their appearance is also used to see if migrants look as young as they claim. But they are only rejected if they are clearly over 18. Extensive medical tests, including examining dental records, have been ruled out as too “intrusive”.

To be fair to the Home Office, this is nothing new – just coming this year at a time when the public mood post-Brexit is frayed.

In 2015 the Home Office queried the ages of nearly 600 asylum seekers who claimed to be children, finding that two thirds were in fact adults. Since 2006 nearly 5,000 adults have sought asylum in Britain claiming to be children.

There’s clearly something massively wrong with the whole vetting process here and perhaps the Conservative Government and new Home Secretary Amber Rudd can put into place a system that actually works.

For now, even volunteers working in the Jungle camp said the vetting process is so shambolic vulnerable children are being left behind in the chaos.

The Tory MP David Davies commented: “I worry that just by accepting their word we are putting other people at risk. The UK has set a very dangerous precedent. Anyone in their 20’s or 30’s can head to Calais, say they are 15 and claim to have relatives in the UK. It is almost certain some are economic migrants.”

Davies has a point.

He forgot to add that – aside from the security implications of granting these alleged children asylum in Britain – the dysfunctional vetting process is winding up the British people and making them seethe, like they haven’t in recent decades, at perceived Westminster detachment and incompetence.

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