Private contractors used excessive restraint on low-risk asylum seekers on a removal flight out of the UK, inspectors have revealed in a damning report.

Escort staff were led to believe by dire warnings during a staff briefing that they were dealing with a high-risk group, when the majority of passengers had no history of being disruptive, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said in a report.

All but one of the 23 detainees on the flight out of London Biggin Hill airport in January were placed in waist restraints, which restrict arm movements and can hold arms clamped to the body in the secure position, HMIP said. Inspectors branded the use of the restraints as “not necessary, proportionate or reasonable”.

The chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, said: “We regularly inspect other detention settings where far more disruptive and challenging behaviour is managed without such physical restraints.

In its report, HMIP said a staff briefing prior to the flight had “emphasised the risks of disruption and the need for vigilance”, focusing solely on control and not on detainees’ treatment or welfare.

One manager said: “Tonight we don’t mess around. If you do, you may well get hurt.”

“Staff clearly thought they were dealing with a very high-risk group. However, the dire warnings they were given were not grounded in evidence.”

Phil Hardy of SecuriCare says, “a fundamental principle of our training is that you respond to the behaviour being presented, and you treat everyone with dignity and respect. Something has clearly gone wrong here. I can only hope lessons are learnt..”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to ensure that nominated trainers can help staff to respond safely and effectively to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur, including the application of ‘Physical Interventions techniques’. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners. Click to see our ‘Preventing & Managing Challenging Behaviour’ Course which includes ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ techniques designed to minimise the need for any kind of restrictive intervention. You can also take a look at our person centred Behaviour Planning Service.

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442

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