Criminals put blades in mouth 'to thwart deportation'

Plane Image copyright PA

Two criminals who were being deported to Jamaica from the UK tried to thwart the process by putting razor blades in their mouths, a report has revealed.

The incident took place ahead of a charter flight carrying 32 detainees from Stansted Airport in March.

Prison inspectors say the "immediate reactions" of the private contractors escorting the men led to a "risky situation, although it ended calmly".

But they said a staff briefing had not provided guidance on welfare issues.

The flight was chartered by the Home Office, with private company Tascor responsible for the guards escorting detainees from a number of immigration centres.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was very rare for details of deportation flights to be made public.

The report provides an important glimpse into the process and shows how difficult and dangerous it can be, he added.

'Talking up risks'

The detainees were guarded on the plane by 103 staff and three healthcare workers.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons said during a briefing held before the night-time removal operation, staff had been told that "virtually all" the detainees were "violent criminals who have assaulted staff".

"There was a strong emphasis on the risk of disruptive behaviour," said its report.

But it added "talking up risks undermined to some degree even experienced staff's confidence in their interpersonal and other skills".

The two men were found to have fragments of a razor blade in their mouth at Brook House immigration centre in West Sussex.

"One of the staff swore loudly, exclaiming he had blades in his mouth, while another grabbed his arm and several staff told him to spit the blades out, which he ignored," says the report.

He eventually handed over the blade fragments on the aircraft after he had been placed in a "waist restraint belt".

The other man had been on self-harm monitoring and walked with a crutch and staff were said to have "treated him with reasonable consideration for his disability".

The report described the response to the two men as "proportionate".

It said the reasoning behind the treatment of a 57-year-old woman who was made to wear a rigid handcuff and then fitted with a waist restraint belt after refusing to board the aircraft "was much less clear".

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