Illegal migrants to have X-ray bone scans to check their real age

A group of people, thought to be migrants, disembark the deck of HMC Seeker, as they climb aboard a Border Force rib at Dover marina in Kent, after a small boat incident in the English Channel. Photo credit: PA

Home Secretary Priti Patel is due to unveil a series of amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill that will allow the use of “scientifically verifiable” methods to check the age of asylum seekers.

The new methods are expected to include X-rays of forearm bones which are said to be the most accurate method to estimate the maturity of a child’s skeletal system.

The move will bring the UK into line with the US and other European countries which use similar methods to check migrants ages.

A government source said:

“A lot of European countries already use these age verification techniques.

“We want to bring the methods we are using in line with them and improve the scientific validity of them. At the moment, we only use social services checks.” 

Home Office analysis has shown that 55 per cent of asylum seekers who have claimed to be children over the past five years have in fact since proved to be over 18. Of the 598 age disputes that were resolved last year, 61 per cent were ruled to be adults.

One of the most infamous cases of a migrant lying about their age to enter Britain was Ahmed Hassan, the Parsons Green bomber. Ahmed pretended to be only 16 years old and posed as a “model asylum seeker” before setting off a bomb on the London Tube in September 2017 injuring 69 victims.

The judge who jailed the Iraqi for 34 years found Ahmed was was actually over 18 years old and said he “cynically exploited to the full the generosity and naivety of the system.”

Other examples of deception include a balding male from The Gambia who appeared to be in his 40s and was being taught in a Coventry school for months before parents complained.

A specialist unit is to be set up by the Government as part of the new Bill to carry out the expert assessments of would-be asylum seekers who claim to be under 18.

The bill comes amid a record surge in the numbers of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. Nearly 18,700 have reached the UK so far this year, more than double the 8,461 in the whole of 2020.


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