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BASW: Refugee age assessment – Children’s rights must be addressed first

BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen has responded to media speculation about the age of unaccompanied asylum seeking children being resettled in Britain from the Calais refugee camp by saying children’s rights need to be met first.

Conservative MP David Davies has sparked media interest by calling for dental checks or bone density x-rays to verify if unaccompanied children are under the age of 18. The British Dental Association has said of dental checks: “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”.

Debating the issue with David Davies MP for Monmouthshire on Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Allen agreed with the view of medical experts and said such tests were not useful and also could be retraumatising for this who had experienced abuse or torture. She said the first refugees to arrive under the scheme had been “vilified in the papers and their age has come into question to make a story” adding: “If there are issues about the age of the people who have come in in this first cohort, then that can be looked at. But the key issue is, how do we bring in the hundreds of children who are in the camp who have a right to be here under various conventions and obligations and how do we ensure that there is now a process to get all of those brought in to the UK. We need to ensure that children can come through quickly and have their rights met.”

In April of this year, BASW’s Policy, Ethics and Human Rights (PEHR) Committee reaffirmed the Association’s existing position statement with regard to the age determination of age-disputed young people. The position statement puts emphasis on multi-agency working and reiterates that age assessment is not something that can be undertaken by social workers working in isolation from other professionals.

Read Unaccompanied Children, Age Assessment and Social Protection Systems from Ruth Stark MBE, President of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) by clicking HERE