Tooth for Truth

Calls for child migrants to have teeth tested to check their age condemned as unethical

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Many immigrant children have come to the UK to join their families sparking claims that some of them could be adults. Conservative MP David Davies has therefore called for dental checks on children to show their true age, however the British Dental Association has called the checks unethical.

Once child immigrants arrive in the UK many checks are already carried out including interviews with their relatives and finger printing to ascertain their ages. Since children arrived in the country a newspaper printed photographs of some of the children with headlines questioning their ages.

Chairman of the Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, Mr Davies, said “If they are jumping on lorries, they are not going to be adverse to lying about their ages. We should do the tests.

“We don’t want to vilify anyone… but if we don’t raise these questions we are not going to be able to help the people who need our help.”

Tory colleague, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has supported the stricter checks. He stated that it was “very worrying” that “older migrants are reported to be pushing children out of the way.”

He added, “For the public to have confidence in the process and to feel that it is genuinely children that are being rescued, it would not be unreasonable to make detailed checks, and if that includes dental checks, I think that would be perfectly sensible.”

The BDA however have argued that they cannot accurately determine someone’s age according to dental checks. A BDA spokesman said, “It’s not only an inaccurate method for assessing age, but it is both inappropriate and unethical to take radiographs of people when there is no health benefit for them.”

Doctors of World UK called the idea “unethical and unnecessary” adding “healthcare workers are not border guards”.

UK officials in Calais have been concentrating mainly on unaccompanied minors who have the right to join relatives in the UK under European Union legislation. Under EU regulation, asylum claims must be made in the first safe country a person arrives in, but children can transfer their claim to another country if they have family members living there.


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