A whistleblower from Home Office contractor Mitie said traffickers were snatching child migrants in front of their taxpayer-funded accommodation and bundling them into cars.
The latest figures confirm 222 have vanished without trace, including 79 from one Brighton hotel. ‘Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found,’ the source told the Observer. ‘They’re being taken from the street by traffickers.’
Children who arrive alone in the UK and claim asylum spend more than two weeks on average in hotels before being transferred to local authority care.
The whistleblower said about ten per cent of youngsters disappeared each week from a hotel in Hythe, Kent. Campaigners say traffickers are thought to take children as far as Manchester and Scotland.
The revelations will increase pressure on home secretary Suella Braverman. She was already under fire over her treatment of asylum seekers after an outbreak of diptheria at the Manston immigration centre in Kent, and a record number of Channel crossings in 2022.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Ms Braverman ‘has failed to act on the repeated warnings’. Brighton and Hove City Council said it tries to find children who disappear from hotels in its city. The Home Office said local authorities ‘have a statutory duty to protect all children’ and ‘robust safeguarding procedures’ were in place.