Enforced removal of channel crossers at speed from August 2020

The Independent Monitoring Boards’ Charter Flight Monitoring team today publishes its annual report for 2020.

The report’s main focus is on the inhumanity of persisting with enforced removal of men who entered the UK irregularly and via channel crossings, who self-harmed shortly before removal but still were sent back under the Dublin Convention to European countries The Board noted that

  • The men were often under physical restraint.
  • There appeared to be no formal process to brief the receiving authorities on the mental and physical health of the men who had self-harmed.
  • This may have put the men at further risk.

IMB Charter Flight Monitoring team leader, Lou Lockhart-Mummery, said:

“It is important to have independent monitors present during the removal process to observe whether the individuals are treated fairly and with humanity during a stressful experience.  As in previous years, we observed escorts’ empathetic responses to the needs of some individuals, particularly English speakers.  Although the Home Office provided professional interpreters for non-English speakers, they were not deployed when individuals were boarding the aircraft – a particularly stressful pinch-point.

The Minister stated the following in his letter of 25 November 2020, referred to in more detail in the report.  “Detention and removal are essential parts of immigration controls.  It is vital that these are carried out with dignity and respect and we take the welfare of those in our care very seriously.” Persisting with removal of vulnerable Channel crossers at speed and the apparent lack of a formal handover process around physical and mental health illustrate gaps between theory and practice.”.