MORE than 130 unaccompanied asylum seeking children call Hampshire their home, it has been revealed, some of which have been trafficked into the county.

The children, all aged between 12 and 17 years old, were placed in foster care by Hampshire County Council having arrived in the county, or neighbouring areas.

Figures released by the authority revealed that since April 2017 the number of children housed in the county has increased by more than 60 per cent from 82 to 132, as of August this year.

The council says that this increase has been down to more “spontaneous arrivals” into the county over the summer months, mainly by lorry.

In addition, through targeted operations, immigration officers have found other children already settled in the county which are taken into care. This includes a young, unnamed, Vietnamese girl who lived with the owners of a nail bar in Basingstoke. Following an investigation it was determined that the girl “at the very least” had been smuggled into the country “potentially trafficked”.

The council also revealed that “approximately half” of the 132 children were accepted through the National Transfer Scheme (NTS), which alleviates pressure on other areas – such as Kent and Portsmouth – which have more people seeking asylum.

The authority says that the majority of those arriving in the county are “older teenagers”, adding that as part of the NTS, it has the capacity to support 192 children.

Speaking at the authority’s Children and Families Advisory Panel, Sue Kocaman, area director for the Children and Families service, said: “Our aim is to do the best we can so [the children] can settle; we try and find the best place for them and make sure that they feel safe and part of their communities.

“Many of the children are highly motivated to do well and are keen to get into education, get into employment, or to be self sufficient.

“We try our best to give them this opportunity.”

Mrs Kocaman added that the cost of looking after these children is claim backed from central government.

However, it is not just unaccompanied children which the council is taking in.

Documents released by the authority revealed that 93 young people, aged between 18 and 25, are also being supported by the council’s Children’s Services through its Care Leavers Scheme.

The council says it has also been approached, on two occasions within the last six months, by Portsmouth City Council, who experience problems with its volume of asylum seekers, due to being a port.

On each of these occasions, the county council reveals, Portsmouth had discovered large groups of asylum seekers entering the country, which has resulted in Hampshire finding homes and accommodating between five and seven young people for Portsmouth, taking full legal and financial case responsibility for them.