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ASYLUM-SEEKERS on a deportation flight were “unnecessarily” restrained with waist belts, a shocking inspection report reveals today.
The HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) report raises “serious concerns” over a January flight transporting 23 people from two immigration removal centres to Austria, Bulgaria and France.
All but one were restrained with a waist belt, which restricts movement by clamping a person’s arms to their body.
HMIP said a staff briefing before the flight had “emphasised the risks of disruption and the need for vigilance,” focusing solely on control and not on detainees’ welfare.
A manager working for a Home Office contractor called Tascor, which is part of Capita, said during the meeting: “Tonight, we don’t mess around. If you do, you may well get hurt.”
The HMIP report said: “Staff clearly thought they were dealing with a very high risk group. However, the dire warnings they were given were not grounded in evidence.”
Inspectors found that the detainees were placed in waist restraint belts without good reason and that there was a “clear presumption” in favour of using them.
The watchdog was particularly concerned that the only female on the flight was transferred in her pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown and restrained with a waist belt, despite there being no evidence that one was required.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke 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 to the report, a Home Office spokeswoman 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.”
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