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Baobab Talks

Age assessments: in the best interests of children?

Baobab Talk Series

14 June 2023
At Kaplan International College London 

Three experts discuss the use of age assessment in the UK asylum system, its planned evolution — and whether it can be reconciled with the need to defend the best interests of children.

Prof. Tim Cole (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health) discusses: “Age assessment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children – can it be made better?”. Prof. Cole is a member of the Home Office Age Estimation Scientific Advisory Committee which recently published its report on Biological Methods to Assess Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’s Age”. Prof. Cole will summarise the report’s findings and discuss their likely impact on practice.

Nick Lessof (NHS) asks: “Age Disputes: what should we expect from the Doctor?”. Paediatricians have resisted the use of ‘scientific methods’ to decide the age of a young person, and have left decision making to social workers. As a paediatrician working as Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children in North-East London, Nick will ask: Is it time that we made a more positive contribution, and what should that be?

Syd Bolton (Methoria) discusses: “Are age dispute procedures ever in a child’s best interests? Are they in anyone’s interests? What are the alternatives?” The use of age dispute policies and assessment practices effectively acts as a means of exclusion from child refugee protection and care. As a (non-practising) solicitor and a co-founder of the UK charity Methoria, Syd will argue that it is neither a child nor refugee rights based approach and arguably more damaging than the harm it purports to address. 

This event was part of our popular Baobab Talks Series. Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media to find out about upcoming talks and events.