Inspection report on Pakistan removal flight finds respectful treatment but records concerns

By agency reporter
July 2, 2018

Inspectors found a mix of “positive and negative features” in the treatment of 34 people escorted from the UK to Pakistan on a Home Office-chartered immigration removal flight.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said escort staff from the private company Tascor were observed dealing with detainees respectfully and keeping them informed about the process during a “reasonably efficient” operation in February 2018.

The need for restraints was in most cases assessed in an appropriate and proportionate manner, though some were applied for too long. Some escort staff were seen falling asleep next to detainees they were meant to be supervising but this was less of a problem than on an inspected Pakistan flight in 2015, when many staff fell asleep. There were generally good interactions between detainees and escort staff

A principal area of concern for inspectors related to the mechanical condition of the vehicles taking detainees from five immigration removal centres to Stansted airport. Mr Clarke said: “At our previous inspection, we commented on a series of mechanical breakdowns on the coaches used for transfers. On this inspection, a fire broke out on one of the coaches transporting detainees to the airport, which could have had more serious consequences.”

The report noted: “The first coach departing from Harmondsworth caught fire on the motorway and had to be evacuated. Inspectors were on a coach that was following some distance behind and (which) attended the incident to collect detainees and staff…We received conflicting reports about the evacuation procedure and a Home Office investigation had not reported at time of writing (this report). We requested incident reports from Tascor in relation to this incident. A single generic use of force document was completed for all detainees, which did not show how long detainees were in handcuffs, exactly when they were applied, or whether the risks of injury from the coach fire were taken into account.”

Mr Clarke added that professional interpreting was still not used enough. “There was no interpreter on the coach that had the fire, and some detainees in a frightening emergency situation may not have understood what was said to them or been able to communicate effectively with escort staff.”

Overall, Mr Clarke said: “This operation was completed reasonably efficiently, but nine of our 11 previous recommendations (form the 2015 report) were not achieved and there is too little focus on improvement.”

* Read the report here

* HM Inspector of Prisons


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