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 such children housed in the county has increased by more than 60% 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 had found other children already settled in the county which are taken into care. This included a young, unnamed Vietnamese girl who lived with the owners of a nail bar.

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 said that the majority of those arriving in the county were “older teenagers”, adding that as part of the NTS, it had 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 was claimed backed from central government.

However, it was not just unaccompanied children which the council was taking in. Documents released by the authority revealed that 93 young people, aged between 18 and 25, were also being supported by the council’s Children’s Services through its Care Leavers Scheme.

The council said it had also been approached, on two occasions within the last six months, by Portsmouth City Council, which was experiencing problems with its volume of asylum seekers.

On each of these occasions, the county council revealed, city staff 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.