Scottish Refugee Council welcomes halt to age-assessment X-rays

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Children seeking asylum alone can struggle to understand the system

Scottish Refugee Council has welcomed the announcement that the UK Border Agency will halt its programme to perform dental X-rays on young asylum seekers.

Intended to determine the age of asylum-seeking children, it has emerged that the programme has not received ethical approval. This has forced the UKBA to put the programme on hold until it can get approval from the National Research Ethics Service (NRES).

Scottish Refugee Council has previously backed calls from medical professionals and all of the UK’s Children Commissioners for the pilot to be scrapped because of its harmful effects on vulnerable young people.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy & Communications, said: “We’re glad to see this programme is being challenged.  X-rays do not provide us with accurate information about a child’s age and are invasive with a risk associated with exposure to radiation.

“We understand that the UKBA is now seeking ethical approval so it can continue the pilot. We urge the agency instead to seek more appropriate and effective methods of age assessment.

“We hope NRES will make the decision that this programme does not safeguard the welfare of children and so should not be granted ethical approval.”

Scottish Refugee Council is due to launch its age assessment guidance for social workers – in partnership with Glasgow City Council and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) – next month.

The guidance is aimed at helping social workers to accurately age assess young people in an appropriate and ethical way.