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Dentists urge Patel to drop plans for inaccurate, unethical dental checks on migrants

The British Dental Association has urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to think again on plans to introduce dental checks to establish the age of Channel migrants.

According to reports, a new independent nationwide panel will use dental records and other ‘scientific evidence’ to verify the age of asylum seekers.

The Association has vigorously opposed the use of dental X-rays to determine whether asylum seekers have reached the age of 18, stressing they are an inaccurate method for assessing age.

The BDA also believes that it is 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 and must be carried out without coercion and in full knowledge of how the radiograph will be used and by whom.

The new Nationality and Borders Bill, tabled yesterday, will give the Home Secretary the powers to introduce methods of assessing age via regulation.

This new position runs counter to statements adopted by the Home Office in 2016, when the Department rejected similar calls from backbencher David Davies MP.

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

“This is a retrograde step from Priti Patel.

“In 2016 the Home Office ruled out dental checks for migrants, which we considered inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical.

“In 2021 the science and ethics have not changed.”