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​England: MPs challenge the use of dental X-rays in immigration cases

4 November 2021

 

We are working to ensure unethical and inaccurate dental age checks on child migrants do not make a return.

 

Earlier this week MPs debated an amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill suggested by the BDA which aimed to restrict the use of dental X-rays in migration cases.

 

The amendment, tabled by Paul Blomfield MP and supported by both Labour and the SNP, would have required the Government to consult with relevant medical and dental bodies before introducing any scientific methods of age assessment. It’s a result of our campaign opposing the rollout of these discredited checks.

 

The Government recently suggested they have dropped their initial plans to use dental X-rays for this purpose. However, the New Clauses on this subject tabled by the Ministers since then do continue to give the Home Office the power to use any scientific method of determining age, with limited safeguards.

 

Introducing his amendment, Mr Blomfield called on the Minster to follow the BDA guidance that X-rays should be carried out only for medical purposes, and where the patient stands to benefit.

 

“Exposing children to radiation when there is no medical benefit is simply wrong”, he stressed.

 

SNP Home Affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald MP quoted the BDA evidence to stress that dental age checks were not only immoral, but also not a reliable indicator of whether an asylum seeker has reached the age of 18. Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister Bambos Charalambous MP expressed concern that due to complex issues with consent in immigration cases, dentists performing such checks could find themselves under pressure to perform an act which is not just inappropriate, but might actually constitute criminal battery.

 

The amendment was defeated by the Government in the vote following the debate, but as the Bill continues to make its way through Parliament we will continue our campaign to definitively rule out radiographic age tests.