In a report published today, the Home Affairs Committee criticises the UK Border Agency's management of the processes for the enforced removal of those who are being deported from the UK.
The inquiry launched following the death of Jimmy Mubenga on a deportation flight from the UK found that although there were some positive aspects of the process, which is carried out on the UK Border Agency's behalf by a private security contractor, (initially G4S and, since 1 May 2011, Reliance Security) the Committee found evidence of:
- Inappropriate use of physical restraint, and the possible use of unauthorised and potentially dangerous restraint techniques
- Weaknesses in passing on information about detainees’ medical conditions to all the relevant staff
- Use of racist language by contractors
- Use of excessive numbers of contractor staff.
The Committee recommends that the UK Border Agency should strengthen its procedures so that its own staff feel that they are entitled and expected to challenge any poor conduct on the part of contractors.
The Committee also rejects the practice of taking detainees to the airport as "reserves" in case another detainee is taken off a removal flight at the last minute.
To strengthen safeguards against the ill treatment of prisoners, the Committee recommends that members of the Independent Monitoring Boards for immigration removal centres—or a similar independent monitoring network—be given access to chartered removal flights.
Comments from the Chair
Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee said:
"The Committee began this inquiry following the tragic death of Jimmy Mubenga on a deportation flight in October 2010. I am disappointed that there has not been any progress on this investigation.
Serious questions also remain over the use of contractors in the removal of detainees since Reliance took over from G4S following the death of Mr Mubenga.
The UK Border Agency must not wash its hands of responsibility for detainees just because the service is contracted out. The Agency must introduce tougher management processes to ensure that contractors are delivering the service that the public expect, and that senior management challenge unacceptable behaviour.
The use of “reserves” on removal flights must cease. It is simply inhumane to uproot somebody on the expectation that they will be returned to their home country only to then return them at the end of the day to a detention centre in the UK—sometimes a different one from the one they left that morning.
People who are not entitled to remain in the country must be removed and there may be occasions when it is necessary to use physical force, but this must always be done only when absolutely necessary, and with proper respect for the dignity of the detainee."