British dentists condemn calls for tooth tests to check age of child migrants

Tory MP David Davies wants mandatory checks to ensure 'British hospitality is not being abused'

calais

Men walk through the jungle migrant camp in Calais, France, as plans are made to clear the whole site | Photo: PA Wire

A British politician who called for tooth tests to check the age of child migrants from Calais has been condemned by dentists.

Conservative MP David Davies called for checks after seeing pictures of Monday's arrival of 14 teenagers from the notorious 'Jungle' camp.

Mr Davies said they did not look like children, and added: "I hope British hospitality is not being abused."

He demanded mandatory dental checks for child migrants to reassure the public the system was not being exploited.

But the British Dental Association said the checks would be "inappropriate and unethical".

They dispute claims that dental radiographs can accurately say if someone has reached 18 years of age.

A spokesman said: "We are vigorously opposed to the use of dental X-rays to determine whether asylum seekers have reached 18.

"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.

"X-rays taken for a clinically justified reason must not be used for another purpose without the patient's informed consent, without coercion and in full knowledge of how the radiograph will be used and by whom."

Mr Davies has defended his comments.

"We must not be naive about this," he said. "It's no good Lily Allen turning up with tears in her eyes and all the rest of it - we need to be quite hard-nosed here."

He told the Radio 4 Today programme: "People are desperate, I understand that, and they will say what they need to say to get in.

"When I was in the camp in Calais there were caravans with notices on saying 'Come here, we will coach you in what to say to get into the UK'."

He added: "People in Britain, I think, want to help children but we don't want to be taken for a free ride ... by people who seem to have got to the front of the queue even though they clearly look, in some cases, a lot older than 18."

 

The British government has pledged to resettle 3,000 refugee children.

The Calais camp could be closed imminently after a French court rejected an appeal from aid groups to delay the clearance.

French authorities are expected to empty the sprawling site in the coming weeks and dismantle it by the start of winter.