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People still confined in vehicles for hours

In its 2021 annual report, published today, the IMB’s Charter Flight Monitoring Team (CFMT) focuses on the inhumanity of confining people in vehicles for very long periods as they are transferred from immigration removal centres to the planes that will remove them from the UK.

In each of its annual reports for 2019 and 2020, the CFMT recommended that the transfer process be managed better to minimise confinement in vans. Each time, the escorting contractor, appointed by the Home Office, gave a commitment to review this with a view to streamlining it, but there has still been no change in practice.

The CFMT noted

  • The time spent confined in a vehicle before it had even left an immigration removal centre was significantly increased for some people by further hours spent at the airport waiting to board the plane.
  • There were stops at service areas, but only for the staff, not those detained.
  • There was no access to a lavatory for those who travelled in vans until they arrived at the airport.

IMB CFMT leader, Lou Lockhart-Mummery, said:

‘It is important to have independent monitors present during the removal process to observe whether those being removed are treated fairly and with humanity during a stressful experience. In response to our repeated concerns about the length of time spent confined in vans, the escorting contractor carried out a review, published to the CFMT in January 2022.  No change in practice was proposed, except for providing games to while away the time.  We consider this unacceptable.’