Unnecessary force used against asylum seekers

Capita staff used ‘excessive’ force against low-risk asylum seekers during a removal flight. That’s the damning verdict of a new report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP).

The report goes on to say that the employees of Tascor, part of Capita, who were responsible for removing the detainees, were told at a staff briefing that the asylum seekers were regarded as high risk, when in fact the majority had no history of disruptive behaviour.

The report also alleges that the staff addressed the detainees using disrespectful language.

The asylum seekers were said to have been outnumbered by Tascor employees by more than three to one, and all but one were placed in waist restraints, restricting the movement of their arms. The use of such restraints was deemed “not necessary, proportionate or reasonable” in the report. The sole female detainee was made to use the on board facilities with the door open, which was called an “unnecessary intrusion into privacy”.

The report concerns the removal of 23 asylum seekers who were being held at two detention centres – Colnbrook and Brook House. Eighty members of staff were involved, which used a charter flight to make drop-offs in France, Austria and Bulgaria.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, said: “We regularly inspect other detention settings where far more disruptive and challenging behaviour is managed without such physical restraints.

“Clearly, some senior-level intervention is required to ensure that the situation is rectified without delay.”

Responding, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The dignity and welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance and we are taking the concerns raised by the inspector in this troubling report extremely seriously.

“Action is already under way to address his recommendations. This includes the introduction of body-worn cameras under the new escorting contract with Mitie, which commenced on 1 May.”

They added: “Any use of force must be justified and proportionate and used only as a last resort.”

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP Solicitors is a City law firm which provides legal services with a personal touch to both commercial and private clients. Unlike many City practices we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters. For more information about our immigration services please contact Kate Boguslawska or telephone: 020 7406 1018.