Statistics published by the Home Office show that in 2015, a total of 3,043 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the UK, compared with 1,945 in 2014 – a rise of 56.5 per cent.
The figures also show that the number of unaccompanied under-18s being refused asylum has hit a seven-year high – both in overall terms and proportionally.
In 2015, there were 343 asylum refusals from 1,932 initial decisions – a refusal rate of 17.8 per cent. This compares with 154 refusals from 1,269 initial decisions in 2014 – a refusal rate of 12.1 per cent.
The 2015 figures represent the highest refusal rate since 2008 when there were 511 refusals from 2,718 initial decisions – a refusal rate of 18.8 per cent.
Increasing numbers of unaccompanied under-18s travelling to the UK has been attributed to the ongoing refugee crisis.
In December, the government said it was considering forcing local authorities to take on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in order to ease pressure on Kent County Council.
As a result of the refugee crisis, there are currently around 1,000 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in Kent County Council’s care.
The Home Office statistics, which were published yesterday, show that the vast majority of asylum applications from under-18s in 2015 (90.5 per cent) came from young men. Of these, most of them (61.3 per cent) are aged between 16 and 17.
Numbers of cases of age disputes also increased markedly. In 2015, there were 766 age disputes raised, compared with 318 in 2014 – an increase of 141 per cent.