Posted on April 27th, 2012
The use of X-rays has been suggested as an unnecessary intrusion and could be potentially harmful for anyone subject to it. Dental X-rays could expose the young people seeking asylum to ionising radiation with no benefit found from actually conducting the examination. Also the potential screening costs that could be incurred could be significantly higher than that of an assessment by a professional Social Worker for example. The practice has also been subject to dispute as to whether it provides a more exact evaluation of age than a social care professional can. The chief operating officer of the Refugee Council, Deborah Harris, said that, “The fact that numerous professional bodies have previously stated that this is not a sound method leaves us very concerned for vulnerable children caught in the process”.
The approach that Avocet Independent Social Workers take when conducting an age assessment is to create a lineage of experience of the young person and do an in-depth evaluation from there. This process also includes consideration of a dental examination. How different is this to the dental X-ray proposal? Firstly, it doesn’t give exposure to the potential radiation effects of the X-ray but also it is used alongside the other assessment techniques as the medical examinations, as indicated above do not necessarily give a more accurate result. The evaluation conducted by Social Workers will not necessarily be directly challenging the claim of age as an X-ray might be seen to but rather looking to determine the experience of the young person as well as looking at whether this experience appears to concur with the claims that have been previously made. This approach like other services provided by Avocet looks to put the needs of the young person as the primary concern even in situations of contention.
Although claims of age of asylum seekers have to be acted upon, the use of dental X-rays may be an invasive means of doing so in comparison to an assessment by an Avocet Independent Social Worker for example. The X-ray approach has not been deemed as a more exact means of evaluating age and therefore may be more problematic than it is worth.
Guest blogger this week – CM
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