The “routine” housing of unaccompanied child asylum seekers in hotels by the Home Office is unlawful, the High Court has ruled.
The charity, Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT), had brought legal action against the Home Office over the practice of housing unaccompanied youngsters in Home Office hotels – claiming the arrangements are “not fit for purpose”.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain said the use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children has become unlawful.
He told the court the power to place children in hotels “may be used on very short periods in true emergency situations”.
The judge added: “It cannot be used systematically or routinely in circumstances where it is intended, or functions in practice, as a substitute for local authority care.”
He continued: “From December 2021 at the latest, the practice of accommodating children in hotels, outside local authority care, was both systematic and routine and had become an established part of the procedure for dealing with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
“From that point on, the home secretary’s provision of hotel accommodation for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children exceeded the proper limits of her powers and was unlawful.
“There is a range of options open to the home secretary to ensure that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are accommodated and looked after as envisaged by parliament.
“It is for her to decide how to do so.”