UK deportation flight to Jamaica leaves with seven people on board
The flight cost an estimated £43,000 per person.
A Home Office-chartered plane deporting people to Jamaica was carrying just seven people when it departed on Wednesday, 83 less than originally planned.
The Jamaican government had raised concerns about the flight because of Covid-19 and the vulnerability of some of the passengers due to mental health problems and trafficking indicators.
But the flight went ahead with the government assuring Jamaican officials that nobody at risk of Covid-19 would be on board.
With the estimated cost of a long-haul Home Office-chartered operation being around £300,000, that equates to £43,000 per deportee
The Guardian reports that the seven passengers are believed to have included three who were taken from prison, and four from immigration detention - one aged 64, and another 66.
One had to be carried onto the plane, the newspaper reported, as they were physically frail and suffering from mental confusion. They are thought to have been a Windrush case.
Someone else on the flight had recently lost a child due to medical negligence.
At least five of the deportees had trafficking indicators due to county lines grooming.
government tried to deport 90 people & destroy 90 families. 93 were saved. Something is very wrong with a system which exists to show strength, falsely posited within a paradigm of public safety, which gets so much wrong. Law, activism & resistance can end this ghastly practice.
— Jacqueline (Jacqui) Mckenzie (@JacquiMckenzie6) August 11, 2021
The director of the charity Detention Action, Bella Sankey, felt that the "chaotic" flight could be a significant moment and the "beginning of the end for mass Home Office charter flights".
She said: "Horrifying suicide attempts and an unwell Windrush man being carried on to the plane, the disasters are endless. This is not how a civilised country conducts itself and public disquiet is rightly growing."
Maria Thomas, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, said that the majority of the firm’s clients who were due to fly had had their removal directions deferred, describing the method of deportation by way of charter flights as "brutal and inhumane."
"We know the detention centre was not Covid secure as there were confirmed cases including one of my clients. It took us three stern letters to even get paracetamol for him," she said.
"The home secretary’s removal practice by way of charter flights in this manner is brutal and inhumane, and a massive burden on the taxpayer. This is particularly so during a pandemic."
Priti Patel has defended the method and the flight in question, saying: "These individuals are responsible for some of most appalling crimes – rape, assault, grievous bodily harm, drug offences, and sexual assault of children."
The home secretary continued: "They have violated our laws and values and have left their victims living with the scars of the crimes that took place against them. The British people should be in no doubt of my determination to remove these criminals to protect both the victims of their crimes and the public.
"The government uses every means to continue to remove foreign nationals who have committed crimes against our citizens. We remove foreign criminals from the UK to different countries every week and this flight is no different."