This is why the Home Office is deporting people to Jamaica

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:26 am

The Home Office has gone ahead with a flight deporting convicted offenders to Jamaica, despite a last minute Court of Appeal intervention.

Downing Street said 17 people were deported on Tuesday (11 Feb) morning, but 25 others had been stopped because of the court order.

On Monday evening, Lady Justice Simler ordered the Home Office not to deport many of the detainees after concerns were raised that some did not have access to legal advice.

Following the order, some detainees were taken off the flight while others were flown out of the country.

Campaigners have criticised the deportation flight, arguing that some of the foreign nationals being kicked out of the country had come to the UK as children, had no links with Jamaica and had been convicted of one-time drug offences when they were young.

But Government ministers have defended the flight, saying the detainees have been convicted of serious crimes including drug trafficking, violence and firearms offences.

So who is being forced to leave the UK and why?

How many people are being deported?

According to campaign group Detention Action, around 56 people were being held in the two Heathrow detention centres.

However, due to an urgent application to the Court of Appeal it has meant less than half that number were eventually put onto a plane bound for Jamaica.

The court order covered anyone held in two detention centres close to Heathrow – Colnbrooke and Harmondsworth.

However the order did not apply to Brook House detention centre, close to Gatwick, although campaigners said detainees there had experienced similar problems. It is not known exactly how many people were held in Brook House.

Who are the deportees?

Campaigners including Labour MP David Lammy and the SNP's Stuart McDonald have raised concerns about the deportees pointing to the circumstances which led them to be in the UK and the impact their removal might have.

Some of those chosen to be deported are said to have arrived in the UK as children, have no links to Jamaica and have only ever known life in the UK.

According to the BBC, one of those who had been due to be deported on Tuesday is father of five Howard Ormsby.

He was jailed for 18 months after he was convicted of possession with intent to supply class A drugs and he was released in December.

"I came here at the age of 15 with my older sister and I've been here 18 years of my life," the 32-year-old told the BBC.

"I've never tried to deny the fact I've made a mistake, but everyone has a chance to right their wrongs. I have all my family here - I have no one in Jamaica."

Why are they being forced to leave the UK?

Government Ministers have said those on board Tuesday’s flight have been convicted of serious crimes including drug trafficking, violence and firearms offences.

However this is being contested by advocates, charities and a number of MPs.

The Home Office says under the UK Borders Act 2007, a deportation order must be made where a foreign national has been convicted of an offence and received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.

The flight follows news of a leaked report commissioned by ministers in the wake of the Windrush scandal which warned the Government that the deportation policy should be reconsidered in all but the ‘most severe cases’.