PRESS RELEASE: Jamaica deportation flight included Windrush descendant and trafficking victims

Detention Action Press Release
Wednesday 2 December 2020
For immediate release

Jamaica deportation flight included Windrush descendant and trafficking victims

Detention Action understands that a deportation charter flight to Jamaica took off at around 2am this morning carrying 13 people, 37 fewer than the Home Office had planned.

Those deported included many with one or more British children, those with no legal representation who were yet to have their cases properly heard, at least one person who arrived in the UK as young as 13, and at least one person with immediate Windrush relatives.

Bella Sankey, Director of Detention Action, said: “This cowboy operation was stopped in its tracks by judges intervening to defend those whose lives are at risk in Jamaica. But the tragedy of this tale is the many devastated children who have had a loving parent forcibly ripped from their lives without any consultation or being able to make their voice heard. This is child cruelty plain and simple and it will not stand”.

In one case, a man was deported on the flight despite being a suspected victim of criminal exploitation and grooming as part of a county lines operation thorough which he received one conviction for intent to supply class A drugs. He came to the UK 10 years ago when he was 13. He has three very young British children. His whole extended family is here in Britain including Mum and cousins. He has no one in Jamaica and reported that he would likely be sleeping on the streets on arrival in Jamaica.

Those who were being taken off the flight up to the eleventh hour due to legal intervention included people with grounds for asylum and those with indicators of trafficking who had been coerced into criminal activity during their exploitation. Some with trafficking indicators have now been successfully referred into the Government’s scheme for identifying and protecting victims of human trafficking and modern slavery (the NRM).

Yesterday, an urgent legal challenge was brought by two children with a parent on the flight seeking an injunction prohibiting their father’s removal and the removal of any parent where the interests of the child have not been properly assessed and taken into account.

The father concerned ultimately had a separate injunction granted. But the courts indicated interest in evidence of the impact of deportation on children by granting permission to intervene to human rights charity Detention Action due to its extensive work with people facing deportation and their families.

Detention Action estimates that had Priti Patel succeeded in deporting everyone she had planned, up to 150 British children would have been separated from a parent due to this flight. The legal challenge concerning the impact of deportations on children continues.


For media enquiries please contact:

Matthew Leidecker, Campaigns Manager

Spokespeople are available for broadcast interview.

Notes to editors:

Detention Action is a national charity established in 1993 that seeks to defend the rights and improve the welfare of people in immigration detention by combining support for individuals with campaigning for policy change. Detention Action works in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook IRCs near Heathrow Airport in London, Morton Hall IRC in Lincolnshire, and with people held under immigration powers in London prisons. We work with around 1000 individuals held in detention each year.