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'Fear-based' immigration system makes it more difficult to find out real ages, says MP

PUBLISHED: 11:59 16 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:04 16 February 2019

Home Office chiefs and Stoke High School leaders launched an investigation after pupils shared an image of their classmate Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Home Office chiefs and Stoke High School leaders launched an investigation after pupils shared an image of their classmate Picture: CONTRIBUTED

CONTRIBUTED

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin says an immigration system 'based on fear and penalties' makes it more difficult to find out someone's real age - after an adult asylum seeker posed as a pupil at an Ipswich school last year.

Sandy Martin Labour MP for Ipswich Picture: SEANA HUGHESSandy Martin Labour MP for Ipswich Picture: SEANA HUGHES

In November 2018, the Home Office launched an investigation at Stoke High School over concerns a pupil claiming to be 15 years old may have been much older than he said he was.

Students had posted a picture on Snapchat of the man, shocked that he was sitting among them in class, with the caption: “How is there a 30-year-old man in our maths class”.

Pupils claimed he had been lying about his age to the British authorities so he could get an education in the UK.

Ormiston Academies Trust later confirmed the pupil was no longer at the school.

The Home Office investigation concluded in late November. It is understood it concluded the pupil was over 18 years of age.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has criticised the Home Office, saying that people will lie about their age if they fear they will be automatically deported.

“I just don’t feel they are giving enough support to young people,” he said.
“They are not spending enough time speaking to young people on arrival in the UK.

“I think it’s quite likely that people are scared into believing that if they don’t claim to be a child they well be sent back to wherever they came from.
“I think the Home Office is making it more difficult to judge if someone is a teenager or older.

“We have a system which is based on fear and penalties so you are likely to get people who try to avoid that.

“The Home Office are making it more difficult to find out.”

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