Home Office to Introduce Scientific Methods to Assess Age of Asylum Seekers
This guidance will help to ensure that adult asylum seekers posing as children do not have access to assistance to which they are not entitled and to eliminate the protection risks of adults wrongly placed in the system. care of children.
Interior Minister Priti Patel said:
The Nationality and Borders Bill will end many of the blatant abuses that have led to the abuse of our immigration and asylum system by people who have no right to be in our country .
The practice of single adult men pretending to be children seeking asylum is a horrendous abuse of our system which we will end. By pretending to be children, these adult men gain access to children’s services and schools through deception and deception; endangering children and young adults in school and in care.
It’s a fact that two-thirds of age conflict cases have revealed that the person claiming to be a child is actually over 18. I have given more resources and support to local councils to make sure they apply rigorous and robust testing to verify the age of migrants to prevent adult males from automatically being classified as children.
I am amending UK laws to introduce new scientific methods of age assessment of asylum seekers to end these abuses and give the UK public confidence that we will end the overt exploitation of our laws and UK taxpayers.
Government reforms will bring UK age control policy in line with that of other countries. Scientific methods are used by most European countries, which primarily use x-rays, and sometimes CT scans and MRIs to visualize key parts of the body.
For example, Finland and Norway take x-rays to look at tooth development and fusion of wrist bones. In both countries, two certified experts will conduct the age assessment and agree on the age of the person. In France, x-rays are taken to examine the fusion of the collarbone, alongside dental and wrist x-rays, while in Greece, dental x-rays are used with social worker evaluations.
Professor Dame Sue Black has been appointed to chair the interim committee. Currently Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University, Professor Dame Sue is one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists and is the current President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Prior to that, she spent 15 years as a professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology at the University of Dundee. A permanent appointment will be made in due course.
The committee will include a range of expertise, including doctors, academics, scientists and social workers.
Dame Sue Black said:
I am glad that I have been asked to chair this committee and look forward to the opportunity to advise the Chief Scientific Adviser of the Home Office on the important issue of scientific age assessment. .
The committee will examine a range of scientific methods for estimating age and examine their accuracy and reliability, as well as ethical and medical issues. They will report their findings directly to the Home Office’s chief scientific adviser to help advise ministers on appropriate scientific methods for age estimation.
Many of those who arrive in the UK and claim to be children naturally do not have clear evidence, such as a passport, to prove their age.
This can lead some people to pretend they are younger than they are in order to get asylum or refugee status in the UK.
It is a significant problem. In the 12 months to September 2021, of the 1,696 resolved age-related dispute cases in which an individual’s claim to be a child is contested, about two-thirds turned out to be adults. .
Resolving these age conflicts is currently very long, difficult and costly for local authorities and the government. It also often relies primarily on interviews with social workers and, since it is not always associated with scientific evidence, can be subjective, often resulting in costly court challenges. These can cost boards hundreds of thousands of pounds and can take up to three years to resolve.
Recent examples of cases where age assessment has gone awry have resulted in adults being placed in children’s schools or children being treated as adults, both putting children at risk. For example, in one case, students sounded the alarm when an obviously mature adult joined their class. He was reassessed as being 10 years older than his stated age.
Other new measures on age assessment include:
- establish a National Age Assessment Board with expert social workers who can perform age assessment on behalf of a local authority. This will be a centralized team within the Home Office that local authorities can use if they do not wish to conduct their own age assessments.
- define the scientific methods that those performing age assessment, such as the National Age Assessment Board or local authorities, should use to make more informed decisions. If a person refuses to submit to a scientific age assessment established by the Home Office without a valid reason, the person carrying out the age assessment must take this refusal into account as undermining credibility. of the person, when they decide to believe what they say about their age
- create a new right of appeal, which will provide a faster and cheaper way to resolve legal disputes. The Nationality and Borders Bill is debated in the House of Lords today (Wednesday 5 January)