Escort and removal of detainees to Albania – some improvements in the treatment of detainees

The way detainees being removed from the UK were treated had improved, but some issues still needed addressing, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published a report of inspection of escort and removals of detainees to Albania.

Operation Aardvark is a regular removal flight to Albania which was previously inspected in June and July 2014. Departing from Stansted airport, the flight carried 45 detainees, picking up a further 20 detainees at Lille in France. All the detainees were men and many had been transferred the previous day from prison to an immigration removal centre. Inspectors were pleased to see that there were no “reserves”, detainees who were told they would be on the flight but kept on a reserve list, with the expectation that they would only board the aircraft if there was a cancellation.

Inspectors were also pleased to find that:

  • escorting staff were polite, patient and positive in their interactions with detainees and carried out their duties confidently;
  • departures from immigration removal centres had improved, especially from Colnbrook and Harmondsworth, where more suitable areas were used for handover processes and all detainees were brought directly from their residential units rather than moved first to segregated accommodation;
  • Tascor staff proactively tracked down the property of some detainees who had been brought from prisons without it, which was good practice;
  • no force was used on this operation; and
  • health care arrangements were appropriate and paramedics were diligent in the care they provided.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • at Brook House immigration removal centre, detainees were held in cramped conditions and given insufficient information;
  • a number of escorting staff fell asleep on the aircraft, having been working for eight hours by take-off; and
  • the usual opportunity for detainees to have an interview with an immigration officer was not available on the flight.

Peter Clarke said:

“This removal operation involved a relatively short flight; no women, children or elderly people were on the flight and none of the young men on board resisted removal. Escorting staff were not severely tested and they carried out their duties maturely and considerately. We have, for the first time in these inspections, identified a point of good practice. Even in this relatively straightforward scenario, there were still some issues that were raised before and we raise them here again.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the reports can be found here.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. This inspection of escort and removals to Albania was carried out on 15 September 2016. The aircraft was chartered by the Home Office and Tascor was the escort contractor.
  4. Inspectors accompanied the flight which carried 45 detainees, picking up 20 more detainees at Lille in France who were supervised by French police.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Prisons Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information.