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4.4.5 Safeguarding Children from Abroad


Age Assessment Guidance: Guidance To Assist Social Workers And Their Managers In Undertaking Age Assessments In England (October 2015)


Safeguarding Children Who May Have Been Trafficked Procedure


This chapter was updated in June 2016. In Section 6, Establishing the Child’s Identity and Age, information was added in relation to Age Assessment Information Sharing for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.


  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose
  3. Principles
  4. The status of Children who arrive from Abroad and Legal Duties towards them
  5. Identification and Initial Action
  6. Establishing the Child's Identity and Age
  7. Parental Responsibility
  8. How to Seek Information from Abroad
  9. Assessment
  10. Children in Need of Protection
  11. Independent Family Returns Panel

    Appendix 1: Sources of Information

    Appendix 2: Guidance on Questions to Ask Potential Carers of Children From Abroad who do not clearly have Parental Responsibility

    Appendix 3: British Red Cross International Tracing and Message Service Guidelines for Restoring Family Links for Unaccompanied and Separated Children

1. Introduction

Large numbers of children arrive into this country from overseas every day. Many of these children do so legally in the care of their parents. Recent evidence indicates that many children are arriving into the UK who are:

  • In the care of adults who, whilst they may be their carers, have no Parental Responsibility for them;
  • In the care of adults who have no documents to demonstrate a relationship with the child;
  • Alone;
  • In the control of traffickers - for further information see Safeguarding Children who may have been.

Evidence shows that unaccompanied children or those accompanied by someone who is not their parent are particularly vulnerable. The children and many of their carers will need assistance to ensure that the child receives adequate care and accesses health and education services.

A small number of these children may be exposed to the additional risk of commercial, sexual or domestic exploitation.

Immigration Legislation impacts significantly on work under the Children Act 1989 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people from abroad. It is important to note that the legislation in this area of work is complex and subject to constant change. All professionals need to be aware of this context and professionals working with children from abroad should seek legal advice on individual cases as appropriate.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this guidance is to assist staff in all agencies to:

  • Understand the issues which can make children from abroad particularly vulnerable;
  • Identify children from abroad who may be in need, including those who may be in need of protection;
  • Know what action to take in accordance with their responsibilities.
As with any guidance, it is not intended to provide the answer to all situations. No professional or agency holds all of the knowledge; the groups of children and families change and our knowledge of specific issues is developing.

3. Principles

There are some key principles underpinning practice within all agencies in relation to unaccompanied children from abroad or those accompanied by someone who does not hold Parental Responsibility.

These are:

  • Never lose sight of the fact that children from abroad are children first - this can often be forgotten in the face of legal and cultural complexities;
  • Children arriving from abroad who are unaccompanied or accompanied by someone who is not their parent should be assumed to be Children in Need unless assessment indicates that this is not the case. The assessment of need should include a separate discussion with the child in a setting where, as far as possible, they feel able to talk freely;
  • Assessing the needs of these children is only possible if their legal status, background experiences and culture are understood, including the culture shock of arrival in this country. The assessment should be conducted in the child's first language, with an interpreter present;
  • Be prepared to actively seek out information from other sources;
  • Beware of interrogating the child.

4. The status of Children who arrive from Abroad and Legal Duties towards them

Children who arrive in the UK alone or who are left at a port of entry by an agent invariably have no right of entry and are unlawfully present. They are likely to be in a position to claim asylum and this should be arranged as soon as possible if appropriate. They are the responsibility of Children's Social Care to support until they are 18 years of age, under Section 17 or Section 20 of the Children Act 1989. If their asylum claim is not resolved before they reach 18 years old, support after the age of 18 years is provided jointly by the UK Visas and Immigration and Adult Social Care where appropriate.

Children who arrive in the UK with or to be with carers without Parental Responsibility may have leave to enter the country or may have a visa or may be in the UK unlawfully. Children's Social Care may have responsibilities towards them as a Privately Fostered child under Private Fostering Regulations. If the child is cared for by relatives, Private Fostering Regulations may not apply (see Appendix 2: Guidance on Questions to Ask Potential Carers of Children From Abroad who do not clearly have Parental Responsibility).

PLEASE NOTE: Any agency which considers that a child may be placed in a private fostering arrangement must notify Children's Social Care.

If the child is assessed to be In Need, support can be provided by Children's Social Care for the child, and for the family, unless this is restricted by legislation, for example Section 54 of the National Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The support for a family may be restricted, for example, to pay for a family's return home and temporary accommodation pending departure where they are unlawfully present and have exhausted all avenues for appeal.

If such families decide to stay and seek further help, Children's Social Care still have responsibilities towards any child who is in need, but services may only be provided direct to the child alone.

5. Identification and Initial Action

Whenever any professional comes across a child who they believe has recently moved into this country the following basic information should be sought:

  • Confirmation of the child's identity and immigration status;
  • Confirmation of carers' identity and immigration status;
  • Confirmation of the child's health and education arrangements in this country;
  • Confirmation of the carer's relationship with the child and immigration status.

This should be done in a way which is as unthreatening to the child and carer as possible. Occasionally a separate 'kinship' assessment may be provided in some circumstances.

If this information indicates that the child has come from overseas and is being cared for by an unrelated adult or one whose relationship is uncertain, Children's Social Care should be notified in order that an assessment can be undertaken.

The immigration status of a child and his/her family has implications for the statutory responsibilities towards the family. It governs what help, if any, can be provided to the family and how help can be offered to the child. Legal advice on individual cases should be sought where necessary.

Where families and children are subject to immigration legislation which precludes support to them, many will disappear and remain in this country illegally. During this time children may suffer particular hardship - e.g. live in overcrowded and unsuitable conditions and with no access to health or educational services. They are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because of their circumstances.

6. Establishing the Child's Identity and Age

Age is central to the assessment and affects the child's rights to all services and the response by agencies. In addition it is important to establish age so that services are age appropriate (and developmentally appropriate).

Citizens of EU countries will have passport or ID card (usually both).

Unaccompanied children very rarely have possession of all documents to confirm their identity or even to substantiate that they are a child. Their physical appearance may not necessarily reflect his/her age.

Age Assessment

Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children: Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children (2014) provides that where the age of a person is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they are a child, they are presumed to be a child in order to receive immediate access to assistance, support and protection in accordance with Article 10(3) of the European Convention on action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.  Age assessments should only be carried out where there is significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child. Age assessments should not be a routine part of a local authority’s assessment of unaccompanied or trafficked children.

Where an assessment of age is conducted, it must be Merton Compliant.

The assessment of age is a complex task, which often relies on professional judgement and discretion. Such assessment may be compounded by issues of disability. Moreover, many societies do not place a high level of importance upon age and it may also be calculated in different ways. Some young people may genuinely not know their age and this can be misread as lack of cooperation. Levels of competence in some areas or tasks may exceed or fall short of our expectations of a child of the same age in this country.

Age assessments are undertaken by Children's Social Care and each area has its own internal arrangements for doing this work.

A consortium of partners co-ordinated by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has produced good practice guidance - Age Assessment Guidance: Guidance To Assist Social Workers And Their Managers In Undertaking Age Assessments In England (October 2015) – aimed at assisting frontline social workers in conducting age assessments of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.

This guidance brings together the fundamental elements of what constitutes a lawful assessment whilst promoting best practice. It contains practical advice on preparing for, and conducting, age assessments, as well as a range of useful resources covering issues such as trafficking, trauma and memory, and legislation and case law. Young people with experience of age assessments were consulted and some of their reflections appear in the final document.

This document forms part of a suite of publications including the ADCS and Home Office Age Assessment Joint Working Guidance and the Information Sharing Proforma. (See ADCS website - Age Assessment Guidance and Information Sharing Guidance for UASC).

7. Parental Responsibility

The Children Act 1989 is built around the concept of Parental Responsibility. This legal framework provides the starting point for considering who has established responsibility and duties towards a child.

In some cultures child rearing is a shared responsibility between relatives and members of the community. Adults may bring children to this country who they have cared for most of their lives, but who may be unrelated or "distantly" related.

An adult whose own immigration status is unresolved cannot apply for a Child Arrangements Order to secure a child for whom he/she is caring.

Children whose parents' whereabouts are not known have no access to their parents for consent when making important choices about their life. Whilst their parents still have Parental Responsibility they have no way of exercising it.

Children who do not have someone with Parental Responsibility caring for them can still attend school, and schools should be pragmatic in allowing the carer to make most decisions normally made by the parent.

Such children are entitled to health care and have a right to be registered with a GP.

Emergency life-saving treatment would be given if required. However, should the child need medical treatment such as surgery or invasive treatment in a non-life-threatening situation, the need for consent would become an issue and legal advice would be required.

Children's Social Care has statutory duties where the child is deemed Privately Fostered

Some carers/parents are eligible to claim benefits for their child but this is dependent upon immigration status.

8. How to Seek Information from Abroad

Seeking information from abroad should be a part of assessing the situation of an unaccompanied child where it is safe to do so. Professionals from all key agencies - Health, Education, Children's Social Care and the Police - should all be prepared to request information from their equivalent agencies in the country or countries in which a child has lived, in order to gain as full as possible a picture of the child's preceding circumstances. Please refer also to Appendix 3: British Red Cross International Tracing and Message Service Guidelines for Restoring Family Links for Unaccompanied and Separated Children.

All professionals should be cautious before requesting information from abroad and have considered if this could be harmful to the young person or their family members living abroad.

It is worth noting that agencies abroad tend to respond quicker to e-mail requests/ faxed requests than by letter. Similarly, the Internet may provide a quick source of information to locate appropriate services abroad. See also Appendix 1: Sources of Information.

9. Assessment

Any unaccompanied child or child accompanied by someone who does not have Parental Responsibility should receive an Assessment in order to determine whether they are a Child in Need and require the provision of services, including the need for protection. See also Appendix 2 regarding "private fostering" duties of Local Authorities.

Such children should be assessed as a matter of urgency as they may be very geographically mobile and their vulnerabilities may be greater. All agencies should enable the child to be quickly linked into universal services, which will offer a tracking record service for children.

It is important that wherever possible a child friendly environment should be used when assessing a child.

The assessment of children from abroad can be challenging. The Assessment Framework should be used, and the assessment should address not only the barriers which arise from cultural, linguistic and religious differences, but also the particular sensitivities which come from the experiences of many such children and families.

The needs of the child have to be considered based on an account given by the child or family about a situation which professionals has neither witnessed nor experienced. In addition it is often presented in a language, and about a culture and way of life with which the professional is totally unfamiliar or has only basic knowledge about. Professionals should seek assistance and advice from appropriate community resources and other specialised agencies.

It is vital that the services of an independent interpreter are employed in the child's first language and that care is taken to ensure that the interpreter knows the correct dialect. Consideration should also be given to the gender of the interpreter. If that interpreter shares more than a common language, and are professionally trained, they can sometimes be a rich source of information about traditions, politics and history of the area from which the child has arrived. They may be in a position able to advise on issues like the interpretation of body language and emotional expression.

The first contact with the child and carers is crucial to the engagement with the family and the promotion of trust which underpins the future support, advice and services.

Particular sensitivities which may be present include:

  • Concerns around immigration status;
  • Fear of repatriation;
  • Anxiety raised through yet another professional asking similar questions to ones previously asked;
  • Lack of understanding of the separate role of different services or immigration;
  • Lack of understanding of why an assessment needs to be carried out;
  • Previous experience of being asked questions under threat or torture, or seeing that happen to someone else;
  • Past trauma;
  • Past regime/ experiences can impact upon the child's mental and physical health. This experience can make concerns from the authorities about minor injury or poor living conditions seem trivial and this mismatch may add to the fear and uncertainty;
  • The journey itself as well as the previous living situation may have been the source of trauma;
  • The shock of arrival;
  • The alien culture, system and language can cause shock and uncertainty, and can affect the mood, behaviour and presentation.

In such circumstances, reluctance to divulge information, fear, confusion or memory loss can easily be mistaken for lack of cooperation, deliberate withholding of information or untruthfulness. The Assessment should take account of any particular psychological or emotional impact of experiences as an unaccompanied or trafficked child, and any consequent need for psychological or mental health support to help the child deal with them.

The child should be offered an Independent Visitor and, if they decline, their reasons should be recorded. Any Independent Visitor appointed should have appropriate training and demonstrate an understanding of the needs faced by unaccompanied or trafficked children.

In addition, unaccompanied children should be informed of the availability of the Assisted Voluntary Return Scheme.

The first task of the initial contact is therefore engagement. Open questions are most helpful, with a clear emphasis on reassurance and simple explanations of the role and reasons for assessment. If the "engagement" with the family is good there are more likely to be opportunities to expand on the initial contact, as trust is established.

Within the first contact with the child and carer(s), it is however also vital not to presume that the child's views are the same as their carer, or that the views and needs of each child are the same. Seeing each child alone is crucial, particularly to check out the stated relationships with the person accompanying them. (Someone allegedly from the same place of origin should have a similar knowledge of the place, for example). Clearly the professional is going to be seen as in "power" and as such a child may believe that they must "get it right" and may tell you what you think you want to hear.

If the engagement is good then there will be opportunities to expand on the initial contact. The ethnicity, culture customs and identity of this child must be a focus whilst keeping this child central to the assessment. The pace of the interviewing of a child should aim to be at the pace appropriate to the child, although the need to ensure that the child is safe may become paramount in some circumstances. Some core questions to be addressed are included in Appendix 3: British Red Cross International Tracing and Message Service Guidelines for Restoring Family Links for Unaccompanied and Separated Children.

In relation to the child's developmental needs, things to bear in mind include:


  • Health, behaviour and social presentation can be affected by trauma and loss. Famine and poverty can have an impact upon physical and psychological development;
  • Wider health needs may need to be considered, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C and TB. (This applies to the parent/carer also);
  • It should be noted that medical and educational history of the child may be available from their country of origin;
  • Self-care skills. Don't judge competence by comparing with a child of the same age in this country. This child may have had to be very competent in looking after themselves on the journey but unable to do other basic tasks. In some countries some children will have been working or have been involved in armed conflict. Loss of a parent can enhance or deprive a child of certain skills;
  • Identity. Who is this child? What is their sense of themselves, their family, community, tribe clan, race, history?
  • Physical appearance. Life experience and trauma can affect this. Lack of nourishment may make the child present as younger or older;
  • Perceptions of what constitutes disability are relative and attitudes towards disabled children may be very different;
  • The impact of racism on the child's self-image and the particular issues currently faced by asylum seeking children and their families.


  • May not speak any English but one or more other languages, and may or may not be illiterate in their home language. Vocabulary in another language may be very limited;
  • May not have received any or have limited formal education due to war, due to prohibitions in home countries because of ethnicity or gender, or due to massive changes and movement between countries;
  • May be confused and unsettled having been through a few and very different educational systems and establishments in different countries;
  • May have confused identities and sense of belonging because of diverse cultural and educational differences, and be unable to cope with changes and the experiences they have been through;
  • May be unable to catch up with their peers because of the enormous gaps due to personal situation and educational backgrounds resulting in lack of confidence and sense of insecurity, e.g. learning difficulties, disabilities, depression;
  • Having been through abusive educational system in the past, the child may need time and help to trust and be in regular attendance at school and to enjoy learning;
  • Emotional and psychological stresses, past and present may cause memory impairment;
  • Change of status and previous economic stability in the past can be particularly frustrating and difficult for children to accept

Parenting Capacity

  • War, famine and persecution can make a family mobile. The family may have moved frequently in order to keep safe. The stability of the family unit might be more important to the child than stability of place. Judgments that mobility may equate with inability to provide secure parenting may be entirely wrong. In some countries regular migration to deal with exhaustion of the land is part of the culture;
  • The fact that a child seems to have been given up by a parent may not imply rejection within their culture, as the motive may have been to keep the child safe or seek better life chances for him/her;
  • Talking about parents/ family can be stressful and painful - as can not being given the chance to do so regularly;
  • Take account of the importance of the extended family/community/clan rather than an Eurocentric view of the family;
  • Do not presume that the child cannot contact their parent who is living abroad unless you have established that this is the case;
  • Lack of toys for a child may indicate poverty or different cultural norms rather than poor parenting capacity to provide stimulation;
  • Take account of the additional issues of parenting a child conceived through rape - either dealing with the negative response of the partner or with the stress of keeping it secret from him;
  • Parents who are depressed, who suffer from mental ill health and who are not coping with their circumstances may not be able to support their children adequately to make the necessary transitions;
  • Carers pretending to be parents may be inadequate in their roles;
  • Harsh disciplines and extremely strict cultural practices may cause conflict between children and carers (and school).

Family and environment

The importance of economic and social hardship is apparent. In addition there may be issues such as:

  • Family history and functioning may include the loss of previous high status as well as periods of destitution;
  • Different concepts of who are/have been important family members and what responsibility is normally assumed by the whole community, e.g. who a child should reasonably be left with;
  • Isolation, the lack of friends and supportive networks;
  • Family being unable to integrate into the community.

Appendix 3: British Red Cross International Tracing and Message Service Guidelines for Restoring Family Links for Unaccompanied and Separated Children contains some questions which it may be helpful to cover within an Assessment of the situation of a child in these circumstances.

10. Children in Need of Protection

Where assessment indicates that a child may be in need of protection and child protection procedures apply, additional factors need to be taken into account. These dilemmas include such things as:

  • Perceptions of authority, the role of the Police/immigration in particular and the level of fear this may generate;
  • The additional implications of deciding to prosecute a family where deportation is real possibility;
  • A child's previous experience of separation and loss;
  • Judgements about child care practices in the context of such different cultural backgrounds and experiences.

11. Independent Family Returns Panel

Under s. 54A Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (inserted by s.3 Immigration Act 2014), the Secretary of State must consult the Independent Family Returns Panel in each family returns case, on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family, and in each case where the Secretary of State proposes to detain a family in pre-departure accommodation, on the suitability of so doing, having particular regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family.

A family returns case is a case where a child who is living in the United Kingdom is to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, together with their parent/carer. 

Pre-departure accommodation is a secure facility designed to be used as a last resort where families fail to co-operate with other options to leave the UK, such as the offer of assisted voluntary return.

The Panel may request information in order that any return plan for a particular family has taken into account any information held by other agencies that relates to safeguarding, welfare or child protection. In particular a social worker or manager from Children’s Social Work Services may be invited to contribute to the Panel.

Appendix 1: Sources of Information

  • Documentation held by the child/family:

    The child/family may have documentation from their previous country such as benefit letter, ID cards, GP or hospital letters, letters from other social services departments:
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020-7008 1500:
  • The appropriate Embassy or Consulate:
  • The London Diplomatic List, ISBN 0 11 591772 1 can be obtained from the Stationary Office on 0870 - 600 - 5522 or from FCO website. It contains information about all the Embassies based in London:
  • International directory enquiries dial 155. Ask for main Town Hall number as they will have details of local offices. This can be useful where an address in a town abroad is known:
  • Children and Families Across Boundaries (formerly International Social Services);

Appendix 2: Guidance on Questions to Ask Potential Carers of Children From Abroad who do not clearly have Parental Responsibility

It is important that the questions are rephrased for each interview so that the interview does not become interrogatory in tone

The interviewer should:

  • Speak to the child on their own (with interpreter) in order to establish the child's own views and consistency between child and adult's account of circumstances;
  • Establish carers' ID and immigration status;
  • Establish any previous contact with this or other local authorities/ agencies in UK and abroad.
  1. How do you know the child? Friend/relative?
  2. What is your relationship and through which parent are you related to the child?
  3. How long have you personally known the child/family?
  4. Please give details/names about individual family members?
  5. Which town or city does the child in your care come from?
  6. Please describe their family home/surroundings/environment?
  7. If you have never seen this child before - how do you know this child belongs to your relative?
  8. Can you tell me why the child has come to this country?
  9. Did the child have any contact with you prior to their arrival in this country?
  10. Has the child stayed with anyone else, or in another area in this country, or on the way to Britain?
  11. Are the child's parents alive or dead?
  12. If alive, where are the child's parents?
  13. Do you know why the parents sent their child to Britain and to you?
  14. Did the parents ask you to look after the child and do you have anything in writing?
  15. Are the parents aware that the child is with you?
  16. Are you in contact with the child's parents and if so by what means?
  17. Would it be possible for us to contact the child's parents?
  18. Who brought the child into the country?
  19. Who paid for their passage?
  20. By which route/transport did they arrive?
  21. Do they have any other friends or relatives in this country?
  22. Are you in contact with other friends or relative, if yes please provide their details?
  23. If yes, why did they not stay with them?
  24. Which documentation does the child have pertaining to their identity and nationality?
  25. Do you have a letter from Home Office stating that you are the carer/guardian?
  26. How did the Home Office decide that you should be the guardian/carer?
  27. Do you have a partner/husband/wife, if yes, is he/she happy to continue to care for this child?
  28. Do you have any children? If yes what are their ages and gender?
  29. How do you think caring for another child for will impact on your own family/finances?
  30. Does the child have his own bedroom?
  31. What responsibility are you willing to take for the child - i.e. basic essentials/ carer's role/legal responsibility?
  32. How long are you able to commit yourself to this responsibility?

Appendix 3: British Red Cross International Tracing and Message Service Guidelines for Restoring Family Links for Unaccompanied and Separated Children


The International Tracing and Message Service (ITMS) of the British Red Cross (BRCS) has been involved with tracing of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) for decades - minors came to the UK before WWII (Kinder Transport) - so it is not a new phenomenon. However, UASC currently arriving in the UK from conflict areas come from varying backgrounds and cultures and bring new complexities to the service.

There are currently approximately 8,500 UASC in the UK (Save the Children Fund, "Young Refugees", May 2003). Nonetheless, ITMS has a record of only 182 tracing requests in 2002 and 95 in 2003. These enquiries come directly from young persons, our Red Cross Branches, Local Authorities and Solicitors requesting the Red Cross to search overseas. Additionally, we receive tracing requests from our Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) requesting us to trace unaccompanied minors in the UK.

It is evident that we only receive a small proportion of tracing requests. This, we believe, could be due to the unwillingness or fear of the young person to initiate a tracing enquiry as they are concerned what impact it may have on their asylum application or possible security implications for their families overseas. However, of the tracing requests that we do receive a large proportion of them are unsuccessful due to, we believe, inaccurate or incomplete information. The reasons for this are complex and varied but we are aware that they do not always trust nor do they understand the role of the Red Cross. Given that we are a charitable organisation and our tracing services are free of charge it is both expensive and time consuming for both BRCS and ICRC. In light of the above situation consideration needs to be given and guidelines set on how to minimise such enquiries.


Following consultations with other organisations and Red Cross National Societies the following guidelines have been drawn up:

The Red Cross is unable to undertake tracing enquiries from a third party and will only accept requests from an unaccompanied minor who wishes to find his/her family overseas. All tracing requests will be handled by local Red Cross Branches. It will still be possible to make enquiries through the Tracing caseworkers at our UK Office (HQ) who will advise on the feasibility of the request but will refer the caller to the appropriate local Branch with the name of a contact person.

At Branch/Area office, the Tracing and Message co-ordinator will arrange for the UASC to come for an initial interview in order to explain the Tracing and Message service. They can bring someone with them, if they wish (e.g. an interpreter). The interviewer will either have Child Protection Training or will be accompanied by someone with Child Protection Training. Please note the Red Cross does not have funds available for interpreting services, therefore, the onus is on the service user/statutory authorities to provide one.

The first interview will include the following:

  1. The role of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross within the International Tracing and Message Service;
  2. The role of British Red Cross and ICRC;
  3. Details required in order to carry out a tracing request - explanation of the Red Cross tracing/message form;
  4. That the interview will be confidential - however, the UASC should be told that the information contained in the form will be passed to ITMS at UK Office and then to the ICRC or Red Cross/Red Crescent National Society as appropriate. Any special requests made by the UASC, will be noted and passed on to the ITMS for example, if the young person does not wish the Red Cross to use the media or if they have security fears;
  5. The information from the tracing / message form will be entered onto a database and then passed on to the ICRC;
  6. That the ICRC personnel (expatriate and local staff) may visit the last known address given and the address of other contacts given in the tracing form;
  7. That the result of the enquiry will be given to the young person only;
  8. There is no time limit on an enquiry and that the outcome is always unknown;

In order to protect the UASC's confidentiality, at the end of the interview the young person will be given the opportunity to attend a second interview (with interpreter, if necessary) should he/she wish to do so in order to complete the tracing / message forms. The UASC will sign the form agreeing to the Red Cross carrying out the enquiry on their behalf.

It may be that the UASC will not be able to give sufficient information during the second interview and needs time to reflect. The offer of subsequent interviews will be given until the interviewer is satisfied that there is enough information to proceed with the case.


All personnel conducting these interviews will have undergone our International Tracing and Message course, Police checks (DBS) and Child Protection Training. Additionally, other appropriate training will be available to staff and volunteers.

Result of enquiry

The result of a tracing request is given only to the UASC personally.

We will not give out information about the UASC's case to third parties (Social Workers, Solicitors, Government Authorities). If a relative(s) is found, then they will probably receive a Red Cross Message from their relative.

Depending on the circumstances in the country concerned, the UASC can either continue to maintain contact through the Red Cross Message Service or by telephone/letter if appropriate.

However, if the Red Cross is unable to find a relative it will still be possible for the UASC to continue to search should they have additional information which may lead to finding another family member.

For any further information please contact Red Cross - International Tracing and Message Service.