British immigration officers have investigated 3,929 people in the past five years who claimed asylum and said they were under 18, finding that in more than half of cases — 2,135 — the “child” was found to be lying and was in fact an adult, the Daily Mail reported, citing Home Office data.
The latest Home Office statistics, mentioned in the report, show asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran and Iraq are the most likely to make the attempt. And around two thirds of “child” refugees from Vietnam and Iran were found to be pretending to be children.
Those who are over 18 are entitled to state funding if their application for asylum is successful, however the majority do not have the right to work in the UK, meaning they are allowed cash support of just £37.75 per person, per week - £5.39 a day.
The laws state that unless the person appears 'significantly' over 18, they should be 'afforded the benefit of the doubt and treated as children' until they are age-assessed by local social workers, to avoid the risk of a child migrant accidentally being placed in adult accommodation or detention.
The situation surrounding false immigration claims reportedly heightened after 2016 when the Calais “Jungle” camp in northern France was torn down and many migrants entered the UK claiming children's benefits.
Global border security consultant and former head of the UK Border Force, Tony Smith, told the Sun newspaper: “Some would’ve sworn on their mums’ lives they were 16 despite having a beard and balding.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are fixing our broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.“
The UK has unveiled plans to deal with undocumented migrants, in particular, the movement of asylum seekers from France to Britain via the English Channel.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said in October that she plans to introduce the biggest overhaul of the UK's immigration policy in decades, pledging to "take every necessary step to fix this broken system”.