Over 80 guards accompanied 14 illegal immigrants on deportation flight

More than 80 taxpayer-funded guards accompanied just 14 illegal immigrants on a deportation flight from Stansted to Germany and France

  • Number of escorts used six times amount of detainees during flight on August 12
  • Report attributed it to ‘Covid precautions and expectation of physical resistance’
  • It added that round trip included seven healthcare staff and took over 10 hours
  • Government estimates it will spend £200m on deportation flights in 2017-2024

More than 80 taxpayer-funded guards accompanied just 14 illegal immigrants on a deportation flight from Stansted to Germany and France, according to a report. 

An inspection into the removal flight – in which passengers were dropped off at airports in Frankfurt and Toulouse on August 12 this year – found 86 escorts were used, over six times the amount of detainees. 

It follows the Government estimating that it will spend £200million on deportation tickets and charter flights between 2017 and 2024.

Peter Clarke, the HM Chief Inspectors of Prisons, stated in the report: ‘A very large number of staff accompanied a relatively small number of detainees. 

The report from the HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons found that 86 guard accompanied 14 detainees on a flight from London Stansted to Frankfurt and Toulouse (file photo)

‘Eighty-six escort staff removed 14 people to two European cities on an Airbus A330.

‘Although on the transport, staff did not crowd round detainees in excessive numbers, there were times when the sheer number of people – many of whom were in effect little more than spectators – hindered the effectiveness of the operation.’

The HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons paper added: ‘Managers attributed the high number of staff to the need for staff rotation in high temperatures, Covid-19 precautions and the expectation of physical resistance.

‘The operation went reasonably smoothly.’

It stated the entire round trip took a total of 10 hours and 35 minutes, with seven healthcare staff from Immigration Removal Centres in the UK.

The report added: ‘This was the first removal flight on which all detainees were being returned involuntarily since the suspension of such chartered flights at the beginning of the Covid-19 period. 

‘The operation was carried out in a manner very similar to those carried out before the pandemic, with a few changes to reduce the risks of infection.

‘Much of the operation went smoothly and we saw detainees generally treated with courtesy, but there were times when individuals were still identified by a number only in their presence.’

Six of the detainees were from Iran, three from Sudan, two from Iraq, and one each from South Sudan, Guinea Bissau and Afghanistan. 

The 14 detainees were deported under the Dublin Convention, which allows the UK to send asylum seekers to other EU countries deemed to be responsible for their applications.

It follows the Government estimating that it will spend £200million on deportation tickets and charter flights between 2017 and 2024 (file photo)

Jeremy Hutton, a policy analyst at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, urged the Home Office to ‘use its resources more effectively’.

He told MailOnline: ‘It beggars belief that such an excessive number of guards were deployed on this flight, no doubt at significant taxpayer expense. 

‘While it is important to ensure deportation flights are carried out in a safe and secure way, this is a clear over-deployment of resources, potentially leaving other areas shorthanded as a result. 

‘The Home Office must seek to avoid repeats of this farce and use its resources more effectively.’

When the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, the UK Government is set to lose the right to transfer refugees and migrants to the EU country where they first arrived.

Earlier this year, it emerged that the cost of four charter flights to send deportees to Germany, France, Switzerland and Kosovo in 2019 was £443,089 – almost £12,000 for each of the 37 people being kicked out of the UK.

About 12,000 migrants are forcibly removed from the UK each year, with a further 20,000 leaving voluntarily. 

A spokesperson for the Home Office told MailOnline: ‘This was the first enforced charter under Dublin Regulations since the beginning of the pandemic. We are pleased that the HMIP report found that the operation went smoothly and that returnees were treated with respect.

‘The wellbeing and dignity of returnees is important and proper safety procedures were followed throughout the flight. The inspectorate raised no overall safety concerns with these procedures, but did make some recommendations for improvements, which are already being implemented.

‘We make no apologies for removing those who have no right to remain in the UK.’

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