Immigration removal flight to Nigeria and Ghana inspection report

By agency reporter
August 10, 2019

Operation Majestic, a regular Home Office-chartered immigration flight to Nigeria and Ghana, was found in March 2019 to have been carried out reasonably well.

Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said numbers were low on the flight from Birmingham to Lagos and Accra, “and we observed better engagement between escorting staff and detainees than we have often seen.” The Inspectorate has inspected the flight four times before, most recently in July 2018.

There was also, Mr Clarke added, improved provision of information about filming and the escorting of detainees onto the aircraft. “Staff at immigration removal centres (IRCs) generally ensured detainees were handed over to escort staff promptly and the presence of a Home Office member of staff at one IRC was particularly useful for detainees and for staff.”

Inspectors found that escort staff mostly interacted positively with detainees, “and remained calm when dealing with those who continued to argue against their removal.”

However, inspectors were concerned that waist restraint belts were still being used on cooperative detainees for extremely long periods without giving them a chance to demonstrate compliance. “It is unacceptable that this problem continues to occur despite promises of remedial action”, Mr Clarke said.

Despite repeated recommendations, “some standards of common decency were not met, such as allowing detainees to go to the toilet in private and providing pillows and blankets on a long overnight flight.

“Detainees continued to face long waits on coaches and long journeys, which contributed to their stress during removals. The departing airport was in the Midlands while three of the four IRCs that detainees were collected from were in the London area.”

Sixty-eight escorts removed 13 detainees to Nigeria and a further six to Ghana. Disembarkation at both Nigeria and Ghana was orderly and prompt.

Overall, Mr Clarke said, “this operation was completed reasonably well. However, unnecessary use of restraint continues to be a problem, and improvements are still necessary to promote detainee privacy and dignity at a time of stress for people being removed from the United Kingdom.”

* Read the inspection report here

* HM Inspectorate of Prisons


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