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The UK Border Agency has used private sector escorting companies to undertake enforced removals for nearly 20 years. These companies operate within a clear framework set out in legislation and in a set of operating standards and instructions which are published on the agency's website. The role of escorts is subject to oversight by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, who undertakes both announced and unannounced inspections. The agency 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.
We are satisfied that escorts act professionally, ensuring 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.