Scottish Refugee Council backs call to end x-ray pilot

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The UK Border Agency has announced plans to pilot a scheme using dental x-rays as part of the process to assess the age of young asylum seekers in Croydon, south London.

The x-rays will be offered to young people who have been age assessed to be over 18 but claim to be younger.

Scottish Refugee Council is backing calls from medical professionals, all four Children’s Commissioners and leading lawyers, to withdraw the pilot.

Deeply concerning

John Wilkes, Scottish Refugee Council's Chief Executive, said:  “We are deeply concerned by the UK Government’s decision to use dental X-rays in the age assessment process for vulnerable young people arriving in the UK on their own, seeking safety. We urge them to stop this pilot as a matter of urgency.

“The bottom line is X-rays do not tell us the age of a child.  They can only compare against norms, usually suggesting that there may be a two year margin on either side of any given age. And, there is no comparative data for countries outside of Europe and America, making even this imprecise at best.

Exposing young people to the risks of radiation for non-therapeutic reasons is invasive and wrong. There is also real issue with the possibility of informed consent for these very vulnerable young people.

“Scottish Refugee Council has long been campaigning on the need for comprehensive, informed and measured age assessment process. That is why we have been working with Glasgow City Council and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to produce guidance for social workers in Scotland which will be available in coming months.

“It is a difficult issue but it is essential that we keep the best interests of the young people at the heart of this.”

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