A leading refugee charity has begun legal action against the Government over its failure to comply with its duty under the Dubs Amendment to relocate unaccompanied refugee children to the UK.

A letter before claim has been sent to the Home Secretary by law firm Leigh Day, acting for the charity Help Refugees. The letter alleges that the Secretary of State has failed to properly implement section 67 of the Immigration Act, known as 'the Dubs Amendment'

Section 67 of the Immigration Act, the result of the amendment to the Immigration Bill tabled by Lord Alfred Dubs, came into force in May 2016 and requires the Government to make arrangements as soon as possible for the relocation to the UK and support of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe. The number of children to be relocated is determined by the Government in consultation with local authorities.

The Government has stated that 30 children have been accepted for transfer to the UK since the Act came into force, however it appears that in fact all of those 30 children were entitled to relocation under the UK's separate and pre-existing obligations in EU law (the Dublin III Regulation). The Dublin III Regulation, which came into force three years before the Dubs Amendment, requires the Government to transfer to the UK unaccompanied children who have family members or relatives living in the UK.

To date it appears that no children have been relocated to the UK under the Dubs Amendment despite the requirement on the Government to do so ‘as soon as possible’ after the Act came into force.

The legal action demands that the Government take specific urgent steps to implement its duties to unaccompanied children under a.67 Immigration Act, failing which Help Refugees will commence judicial review proceedings. Help Refugees is also asking that the Home Secretary use her best endeavours to persuade the French Government to defer the demolition of the camps at Calais scheduled to occur this month, while she corrects her alleged failures in relation to the children in the camp entitled to relocation to the UK.

Rosa Curling, human rights lawyer at Leigh Day, said: “We believe that the Secretary of State has fundamentally misapplied the law in relation to unaccompanied refugee children.

“Given the impending demolition of the camps at Calais later this month it is crucial that the Secretary of State urgently corrects her application of the Immigration Act to ensure that the hundreds of children who are eligible to be relocated to the UK can be brought here as soon as possible.”