In Britain, an estimated nine asylum seekers a week are adults pretending to be children.
The United Kingdom Home Office released statistics that revealed 1,403 out of 2,336 cases of asylum seekers claiming to be children turned out to be fraudulent, with the subjects being over 18-years-old, the Daily Mail reported.
Further investigations suggested that more than seven out of ten solo Vietnamese asylum seekers who claim to be minors turn out to be adults. A similar rate was also present in Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers.
Asylum seeking minors go through a different process from that faced by adults. Minors are brought to local councils and subsequently offered a place in schools and/or foster families.
When an asylum seeker without any documentation claims to be a minor under the age of 18, Home Office screening officers are given the authority to decide if they qualify to be identified as a child according to their ‘physical appearance and demeanor.’
Critics of the system claim that, in some mishandled cases, adults who pass themselves off as children pose a potential threat to foster families and other children.
David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration said the officers concerned had little or no training in making the judgement calls, and that some people believed the benefit of the doubt is given too readily and easily.