BSPD President demands end to unethical age-profiling dental X-rays


  Posted by: Dental Design      12th January 2024

The President of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD), Professor Paula Waterhouse calls for an end to the unethical practice of taking dental X-rays for asylum seekers in an attempt to verify age. BSPD is speaking out following the news this week that the Home Office will be using teeth and bone X-rays to verify the age of asylum seekers arriving in the UK.

BSPD has learnt that the Home Office’s new legislation (see note to editors) that they have now approved for practice, came into force on 10th January. The details outline the use of what the Home Office calls scientific methods to be used to assess the age of asylum seekers to the UK using radiographs of molars, hands and wrists, as well as MRI scans of thigh bones and collarbones. Failure to comply can incur penalties.

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: “Age profiling using dental X-rays has absolutely no evidence base whatsoever. This wholly inaccurate approach to assessing the age of those seeking asylum in this country is morally wrong, because it means that vulnerable children will be exposed to unnecessary radiation without any clinical benefit.”

“We have been through this debate on numerous occasions and believed that it had been shelved for good. Frustratingly, it appears this is not the case. The discussion around using X-rays for age profiling asylum seekers has been debated for nearly two decades. Our members will not be taking X-rays unless they are clinically justified.”

“BSPD calls on the Government to stop this immoral and unethical practice once and for all.”

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