A Conservative party MP today triggered a row after he suggested dental checks must be used to determine the age of migrants entering the UK from France under a new agreement reached between the two countries over refugee children. Monmouth MP David Davies said mandatory teeth checks would reassure people that the unaccompanied migrants coming into the UK to join relatives were indeed children. "If they are jumping on lorries, they are not going to be averse to lying about their ages. We should do the tests," Davies said. Downing Street said "a whole range of checks are in place that the Home Office and Border Force are using in cooperation with partners" and theUK Home Office was forced to issue a statement against dental checks. "We do not use dental x-rays to confirm the ages of those seeking asylum in the UK," said a UK Home Office spokesperson. "Where credible and clear documentary evidence of age is not available, criteria including physical appearance and demeanour are used as part of the interview process to assess age," the spokesperson added. The first children with links to Britain arrived this week, after French authorities ratified a list drawn up by the charity Citizens UK, which is working with the UK government to bring unaccompanied minors over from Calais in France. However, photographs of some of the children have been printed on the front pages of some UK newspapers alongside headlines questioning their ages. The British Dental Association (BDA), which represents dentists and dental students in the UK, disputed claims that dental radiographs could accurately determine whether someone was under 18 or not. "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," a BDA spokesperson said. Diane Abbott, Opposition Labour's shadow home secretary, said it was "an outrageous demand, which would further violate the human rights of vulnerable refugees". "They have suffered insanitary and dangerous conditions and should have been admitted long ago.
This is a vile, reactionary clamour. It distracts from the government's responsibilities to these refugees, which it has largely neglected to date," she said. French authorities plan to close the so-called "Jungle" refugee camp, situated near the port of Calais, by the end of the year. UK officials in Calais have been focusing initially on unaccompanied minors who have the right to join relatives in the UK under EU legislation, known as the Dublin regulation.
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