Dentists condemn MP's call for child refugees from Calais to have teeth checked

'Inappropriate and unethical' tests would not accurately prove whether someone was under 18 anyway

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 19 October 2016 06:59
MP calls for child refugees from Calais to have teeth checked to verify age

Dentists have condemned calls for the teeth of child refugees to be tested to verify their ages, after a Tory MP suggested those arriving in the UK from Calais "don't look like children".

Images of some of those arriving in Britain on Monday were splashed across some UK papers, with headlines suggesting they may not be under 18.

David Davies, the MP for Monmouth and not to be confused with "Brexit" secretary David Davis, said: "I hope British hospitality is not being abused."

The UK has committed to take more child refugees from Calais's "Jungle" refugee camp as the French authorities seek to close it down.

Refugees are supposed to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach after fleeing conflict or persecution. But under the Dublin regulation, they can seek asylum elsewhere if they are minors and have family ties there.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said Mr Davies' demands for testing were "inappropriate and unethical".

It asked that the privacy of these "vulnerable young people" be respected by the media, and said it was not even possible to accurately say if someone was under the age of 18 using dental tests.

A spokesman said: "We are vigorously opposed to the use of dental X-rays to determine whether asylum seekers have reached 18.

"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.

"X-rays taken for a clinically-justified reason must not be used for another purpose without the patient's informed consent, without coercion and in full knowledge of how the radiograph will be used and by whom."

The Jungle refugee camp could be closed imminently after a French court rejected an appeal from aid groups to delay the clearance.

French authorities are expected to empty the migrant camp in Calais in the coming weeks and dismantle it by the start of winter.

A Lille court has rejected a request from aid groups to postpone the closure, arguing that authorities are not ready to relocate its residents.

Charity groups warned that many of the migrants do not want to stay in France and may set up camp elsewhere to continue trying to cross the English Channel to Britain.

The French interior and housing ministers welcomed the court's ruling and said the camp should be dismantled before winter sets in.

Additional reporting by agencies

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