To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will undertake a review of the ways in which private security companies carry out enforced removals of individuals from the United Kingdom, in the light of complaints that have arisen.
Private sector escorting companies operate within a clear framework set out in legislation and in a set of operating standards and instructions which are published on the UK Border Agency's website. The role of escorts is also subject to oversight by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, who undertakes both announced and unannounced inspections.
The UK Border Agency expects escorts to carry out their work with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity and has, over the past few years, introduced a number of measures to ensure the protection of staff and detainees. These include the use of contract monitors at the main airports used for departures, and an independent monitoring board at Heathrow Airport.
Detainee custody officers (DCOs) are accredited by the UK Border Agency to fulfil their functions, which includes using reasonable force as a last resort to ensure an individual complies with their removal. All DCOs are trained in control and restraint techniques accredited by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), and receive refresher training every 12 months as a condition of their individual accreditation to work as a DCO. Restraint training is delivered by professionals and we are satisfied that the techniques are safe. We have, however, asked NOMS to conduct a fundamental review of the techniques used in order to see whether they can be made even safer. This review is ongoing.
We are satisfied that private sector escorting companies have acted professionally, ensuring that those in their custody are treated with dignity and care. Where detainees complain that the use of force has been excessive, the matter is investigated by the UK Border Agency's professional standards unit. If a complainant is unhappy with the response they can ask for the issue to be re-examined by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, whose role was extended in 2006 to investigate complaints by immigration detainees.