'Complacent and ineffective' - council slammed over child abduction scandal

The council has been slammed over a child abduction scandal, which has seen dozens of children go missing <i>(Image: The Argus)</i>
The council has been slammed over a child abduction scandal, which has seen dozens of children go missing (Image: The Argus)

The council has been branded “complacent and ineffective” over a scandal which has seen dozens of children seeking asylum abducted from a hotel in the city.

Labour and Green councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council have clashed following the revelations that 76 children have gone missing from a Hove hotel housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Labour councillor for Wish ward Bella Sankey slammed a statement by the city’s Green councillors and claimed the party was “attacking those who hold them to account and misleading the public”.

On Twitter she said that the Green administration had “ignored Labour councillor requests for information about whether children had gone missing”.

Cllr Sankey, who previously served as a director for the refugee charity Detention Action, said: “At the children, young people and skills committee earlier this month, their administration claimed that children were disappearing of their own accord and that serious organised crime was not involved.

“We now know that this was all rubbish and I think they knew this at the time.

“They are complacent and ineffective and that makes them dangerous to those they are supposed to care for.

“We will not rest until we’ve ended this catastrophic neglect.”

In a council meeting earlier this month, the council’s executive director for children, families and learning, Deb Austin, said that the police locally did not believe that the children were being exploited or groomed.

The council’s Green councillors said that comments made by Labour are “inaccurate” and said that the party had “consistently and persistently” raised their concerns to the Home Office for 18 months and claimed Labour had “only recently woken up to the situation, evidently seeing there is a local council election on the horizon”.

A statement from the party said: “Labour are trying to blame Brighton and Hove City Council for the dreadful way the Home Office is failing unaccompanied asylum seeker children. However, one single council is not to blame for these failures.

“These children are under the supposed care of the Home Office and the council doesn’t have the powers to stop the Home Office from using hotels.

“Playing party politics about the plight of desperate people says much more about those using this opportunistically to attack Green councillors instead of attacking the government for their failed immigration policy.”

Green councillors have requested a meeting with government ministers and have called on the Home Office to provide reassurance that police have the resources to find the missing children.