Age assessment: practice guidance

This document provides practice guidance for social workers and their managers involved in undertaking age assessments in Scotland.

8. Action Following Assessment

Key questions for practice:

  • Communicating the assessment outcome to the young person
  • Sharing information with others, including the Home Office UKVI
  • What happens after the assessment?
  • What if new information comes to light?

Sharing decision making

The assessment findings should be discussed with the young person to give them an opportunity to comment prior to concluding the assessment report. Seeking the views of the young person is enshrined in Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child [14] .

Once the assessment is concluded, the assessment report produced by the assessors should be provided to the young person and their legal representative. The response of the young person and their representative to the report should be recorded, along with any agreed amendments to the report. As previously noted, a sample headings format for this report is appended to this guidance ( Appendix 3).

Unless instructed by the court, a young person must give consent (which must be in accordance with the data protection legislation in force at the time) prior to workers sharing their information with any other agency or person. Consent must be unambiguous and by a statement or by clear affirmative action and it should be remembered that consent can be withdrawn.

Where the Home Office UKVI has disputed the young person's age they will require information regarding the outcome of the age assessment and the reasons for this. It is also likely that they would require information to evidence the robustness of the assessment process. The Home Office have advised that as a minimum, where age assessment information is requested, they require:

  • The assessment conclusion
  • The reasons on which the conclusion is based
  • Evidence that the assessment complies with the general principles set out in the Merton judgment and further case law
  • Confirmation from the local authority that the age assessment has been carried out in compliance with the guidelines in the Merton case and further case law

Where information is to be disclosed in these circumstances, it may be that, in accordance with data protection legislation, consent of the individual is not required. However, in other circumstances, consent may be needed in order to comply with data protection legislation. Please note that, in all circumstances, sharing of information must be fully compliant with data protection and other relevant legislation.

The outcome of an assessment of age will have important effects upon how an asylum claim will be managed. The assessment of age is a separate process from that of determining an asylum claim and so safeguards need to be in place to ensure that the young person's rights are not prejudiced by the sharing of the age assessment report between key agencies. When sharing any information, action must be compliant with the relevant human rights and data protection legislation must be adhered to. It will be important to seek advice from the relevant data protection manager/ legal service.

Next steps

If the young person has been assessed as being under the age of 18, then their care and support should continue to be provided by the local authority children's services. Where a person has been assessed as an adult, workers will need to ensure that they are transferred with due care to appropriate adults services, including the relevant immigration service.

Managing new or revised information post assessment

It is possible that following an assessment, new information not previously considered challenges the conclusions of the assessment. In these circumstances, where it is believed that the new information could significantly change the outcome of the existing assessment, a further assessment should be undertaken.

However, it may not be appropriate to subject the young person to a further full assessment. In these circumstances, workers should discuss and agree with the relevant manager the degree to which the existing assessment needs to be revised in light of the new information. Given the potential implications for the young person, the decision making and rationale should be recorded and shared with the young person and their representative.

There may also be situations in which new information does not substantively change the conclusion of the age assessment, but which it is important to formally record and amend the assessment. An example would be where a young person was assessed as being under the age of 16 years and subsequent information comes to light which provides an accurate date of birth. Given the importance of this information in relation to identity [15] and age appropriate access to services etc. it would be important to amend the assessment and communicate this to the relevant statutory services bodies (ensuring that any action is in accordance with relevant data protection and human rights legislation).


Back to top