Monday, 17 August 2009

Detainee Escorts And Removals: A Thematic Review

Everybody knows it happens, the brutalisation of immigration detainees when they are being forcibly removed from the country (the clue is in the use of the term 'forcibly'). Just last year a major report 'Outsourcing Abuse' by Birnberg Peirce and Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-deportation Campaigns highlighted the routine violence and racism that detainees are subjected to by employees of private security companies carrying out removals on behalf of the state. Even the BBC have gotten in on the act with 'Asylum Undercover - The Real Story?', made by two BBC journalists worked for 3 months undercover in the Global Solutions Ltd-run Oakington detention centre and for GSL's detainee transport arm.

Yet those actually involved in the removal process, the UKBA, IRC and escort staff, have always denied brutality occurs or have excused it as being the fault of those detainees who refuse to cooperate in their forced ejection from land that they had until recently called their home.

Now a HM Inspectorate of Prisons report published last week* not only confirms that routine use of force occurs but that it is actually detrimental to the stated purpose for its use: use of force decreases the chance of a removal being concluded successfully! The report by the Inspectorate on the so-called 'detainee escort services' of SERCO and G4S found a litany of problems:

long exhausting consecutive journeys;
denial of access to prescribed medication;
use of abusive and forceful behaviour;
lack of follow-up medical attention or prompt medical intervention to such incidents;
a total lack of information about complaints procedure at some detention centres;
failure to provide detainees with their property prior to removal, exacerbating already highly stressful and dramatic situations;
inconsistent or poor escort staff practice with regard to use of force and incident reporting;
failed removals mainly caused by the use of force, others due to lack of staff or incorrect documents.

We can only hope that 'official' recognition of this long festering sore will receive some urgent medical attention and that the practice of the routine use of force by 'detainee escort services' is ended as soon as possible, if not sooner!

* The report has yet to be posted [a.m. 17/08] on the Inspectorate's website (hence the delay in publishing this article) but is now available from Medical Justice and bizarrely from the 'Information for local government' section of the DirectGov website.

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