EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children


9:00 am - November 5th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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Ahead of the verdict of his trial due today, documents obtained exclusively by Liberal Conspiracy shed new light on the work of Phil Woolas as Immigration minister.

Published here today, they should strengthen the case for the recently appointed shadow immigration minister to be expelled from the Labour Party.

When in government, Woolas authorised security guards employed by private contractors Serco and G4S to use “physical control in care (PCC)” techniques to remove people resisting deportation.

Not only did that include mothers with mental health problems, but children under the age of 18.

More recently, these “physical control in care” techniques led to the death of Jimmy Mubenga on 14th October 2010.

Phil Woolas was not connected to the Mubenga incident, but the same company, G4S, was instructed under his watch.

Obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, the documents list reasons why it was felt the use of physical force was required.

- Another attempt was made to remove them in March 2008; representations were received that [name removed], the eldest daughter, was not in a position to travel as she had threatened to harm herself if an attempt was made to remove them.

– [Name withheld] has special needs which require 1:1 support to manage him in school. His cognitive and behavioural difficulties are exacerbated by poor eyesight…his mother also suffers from learning difficulties, has a tendency to be disruptive and aggressive and therefore cannot be relied upon to help him cope [with deportation].”

– [Name withheld] next came to the attention of UKBA when she [and her children] claimed to be homeless.

– [Name withheld] made threats of self harm and suicide when last in detention, which are documented, if an attempt was made to remove her to [withheld]. For this reason, it is our intention to detain the family on the same day as their flight and to notify them upon being detained that they are being removed.

The minister was also informed about the media strategy and whether or not journalists were aware of the families facing deportation.

There is no known media interest in this family or their removal. We have some standard lines about removal and the use of restraint, and further lines will be agreed if necessary with the UKBA Rapid Response team and Press Office in the event of any interest.

The four documents were obtained with much difficulty. They were part of a campaign against child detention, a policy the previous Labour government was severely criticised for.

They paint a damning picture of the system. Tactics included trying to forcibly deport mothers with mental health problems, kids with severe disabilities and children who are self harming. Families were broken up and campaigns by local MPs were overruled.

The first document lists Phil Woolas by name. The others had to be signed off by senior immigration officials and Mr Woolas would have been aware of the requests.

It is my view that Phil Woolas should be expelled from the Labour party, regardless of the outcome declared today.

[Also: Why Phil Woolas is unfit to be in the Labour front-bench]

Obtained by FOI (PDF files)
document 1 // document 2 // document 3 // document 4

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Immigration ,Labour party

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Reader comments


I think I’m missing the point here.

If deportees refuse to go peaceably, are you suggesting that physical force should not be used?

Or should physical force not be used against particular categories of deportee such as children and those with particular mental health issues?

And in such cases, should we let them stay?

Genuinely don’t understand but want to understand – please don’t flame!

“There is no known media interest in this family or their removal.”

Another triumph for our fearless, relentlessly probing media: a bastion of British liberal democracy

Are you proposing that immigrants a court orders to be deported and do not do so voluntarily should be allowed to stay? I don’t have a problem with reasonable force being used to uphold the law.

If they won’t go voluntarily then how else do you remove them?

There are a lot of issues here, not least the fact that many children were held in custody in the first place. Then there’s the fact *private companies* were employed to use force.

There’s a lot of opposition to Woolas from tribalists who think he should not be working with the Tories but who would have been quite happy for him to continue if Labour were in power.

Woolas is a disgrace but so are those who enabled him.

6. the a&e charge nurse

Restraint is seldom a pleasant procedure – it is often degrading for the person being restrained, and sometimes fatal – here are reports of x3 psychiatric patients who died as a result of badly managed restraint;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/oct/24/mentalhealth.socialcare

http://www.psychminded.co.uk/news/news2008/July08/Physical_restraint_psychiatric_patient001.htm

http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/2001/Rocky%20Bennett-Inquest%20concludes-May%202001.pdf

But I would echo ukliberty’s questions [1]
“If deportees refuse to go peaceably, are you suggesting that physical force should not be used”
“Or should physical force not be used against particular categories of deportee such as children and those with particular mental health issues”

And if restraint is to be withdrawn should we let them stay?
But don’t forget even Kings used to be restrained at one time;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgZvg7SR_DE

Reports are coming through that Woolas has lost the case against him…

Unpleasant as Mr Woolas appears to be (and if S.Pill is correct, I suspect the full flood of his unpleasantness may become apparent very soon), I am not sure these decisions are signs of that.

Of the four extracts (did I miss a link to the full documents?) three refer to people who were judged likely to harm themselves or others when deported. Restraint was clearly justified – similiar decisions are regularly made in special schools for example, where children have to be restrained. Restraint can be dangerous and can go wrong, but in each of these cases the chances of that were presumably judged substantially less than the chances of harm arising from lack of restraint.

The remaining extract, the homeless one, is either shorn of context (which would not be what I would expect from Don), is indication that there are people in the civil service who regard the homeless as dangerous or does not give enough information.

As to the media comment – this is politics; if you want representative democracy then you have to accept that decisions will be made with one eye on media interest.

I can’t believe I actually seem to have been defending Phil Woolas… Hopefully someone can show me why I am wrong and allow me to go back to my normal (if not over well informed) dislike of the man and everything he stands for.

a&e is right – devil is in details.

of course in general physical restraint must be possible, otherwise you could always avoid arrest, deportation etc. by refusing to cooperate.

what matters is when physical restraint is used, what kind of physical restraint, against who, by who, with what oversight.

If Woolas authorized routine, unnecessary, brutal use of physical force, bad, if he authorized well judged, minimal use of physical force, not so much. If you’re dealing with children, I’d have thought physical force should be a last resort and as gentle as possible.

Re: the comments – erm, that use of ‘reasonable’ force is what killed Jimmny Mubenga.

Sunny,

Please note my comments about balance of risks. Unless you are actually advocating not deporting anyone who has risks of violence or suicide (great electoral possibilities with that one, as your opponents point out that you want us to be a haven for the suicidial and the dangerous…) the use of restraint has to be possible. This only becomes a non-issue if we decide to abandon any claims to be able to remove people from the United Kingdom on any grounds whatsoever, which even as a proponent of free movement of people I find difficult to justify.

Furthermore, since I’ve seen the late Mr Mubenga’s name a lot, but no others, I presume such cases are particuarly rare, if still unfortunate. And there is the old saw (anyone know the source) that ‘hard cases make bad law’ to remember.

Please note my comments about balance of risks. Unless you are actually advocating not deporting anyone who has risks of violence or suicide

Yes I’m actually advocating that vulnerable people be treated with a bit more care.

As for not hearing of other cases – that is only because the right rarely pays attention to the plight of illegal immigrants. Mubenga may have been the first to die in a while, but that doesn’t mean abuse / destruction of lives doesn’t take place.

Have a look at the ‘end to child detention’ campaign by Clare Sambrook, and this article:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/meet-g4s-government%E2%80%99s-untouchable-friend

@11 – The report doesn’t mention how much care these people were treated with.

If the left hadn’t increased migration levels to ‘rub the right’s noses in diversity’ then we wouldn’t have so many people to remove and the right might give a bit more of a shit.

Publishing re-tweets as comments just to massage your ego really sucks by the way. At least put the comment form above the tweets so that people with something sunstantial to say don’t have to keep scrolling past value-free twitter spam.

15. the a&e charge nurse

[11] “Yes I’m actually advocating that vulnerable people be treated with a bit more care” – of course, any civilised person would expect this.

Do you mean that you agree with the idea of restraint providing this unpleasant procedure adheres to best practice?

Or are you against it in deportation cases, period?

Don’t forget psychiatric patients are restrained and injected on a daily basis, and I’m sure restraint is an everyday occurrence amongst police officers – is there a principle that makes those being deported a special case (assuming due process has been followed)?

Sunny,

As a random section of the right (albeit one who spends a lot of time staring at other bits and going ‘really?’) can I point out I am aware of quite a lot of issues that crop up on here, and not just because you are kind enough to publicise them.

And the plight of illegal immigrants is one of those things. But I do tend to notice the word ‘illegal’ in there – that kind of makes things problematic. Yes, we need to treat illegal immigrants with care and dignity, and assess risks (our disagreement on risk, such as it is, seems to be about degree of risk required for restraint), but there is also a duty to ensure that illegal immigrants are returned home. So far, with the possible exception of child detention (and there I see the problems, but not the solutions) I cannot see that there is an a priori case that the current system is necessarily wrong – although I am happy to agree that it could probably be improved (most things can).

If the left hadn’t increased migration levels to ‘rub the right’s noses in diversity’ then we wouldn’t have so many people to remove and the right might give a bit more of a shit.

Oh really? I expect there weren’t any National Front activists in the UK in the 60s and 70s just trying to find ‘Pakis’ they could beat up.

If you don’t care for human rights – just say so. Don’t hide behind this veneer of racist left-wing blaming.

As for how the tweets – when I need advice from random racist trolls about how to run the blog, I’ll ask. Thankfully, I don’t.

I like the idea of a random racist, it seems fairer somehow and at least no one race will feel unduly victimised.

random racists are the worst! you never know where they’ll strike.

I find it astonishing that people who would normally not support violence against children seem to think it’s fine when used against children who are immigrants.

Unfortunately at time of going to press these children are still criminals, and as posters have already said if you use force against them to move them from one place to the next then you cannot effectively do anything.

I don’t condone violence, but as long as the physical force is not excessive and the minimum amount is used then I think this is acceptable and can’t think of any other way of dealing with them

21. the a&e charge nurse

[18] “I find it astonishing that people who would normally not support violence against children seem to think it’s fine when used against children who are immigrants” – who is supporting violence “against children who are immigrants”, I’m amazed that you have made such a claim give the lack of support for it?

I notice that you have not made your views known with regard to the use of restraint in deportation cases.

ukliberty [1] started the ball rolling with some very pertinent questions.
Personally I prefer it if such problems are phrased in prosaic language because it makes it far harder to wriggle off the hook when confronted with certain realities.

So let’s try again – are you saying that restraint is unacceptable in deportation cases – and if so, are you also against the use of restraint that arise on a daily basis amongst other public services (mental health, the police, special schools, etc) – even amongst children?

Unfortunately at time of going to press these children are still criminals

No they’re not.

Some 10,000 people are forcibly removed every year, by the way. We’ve had one death this year and one death in ’93. There were 300 alleged assaults recorded between 2004 and 2008.

24. scandalousbill

“They paint a damning picture of the system. Tactics included trying to forcibly deport mothers with mental health problems, kids with severe disabilities and children who are self harming. Families were broken up and campaigns by local MPs were overruled.”

It seems to me that this focuses more on the more deplorable aspects of the immigration department’s policies. To imply that the same tactics used to arrest and incarcerate criminals are appropriate for those who fsail the immigration procedures is just plain wrong. . In particular, the children involved in these cases should be afforded the same protections that are provided to the children of any UK citizen. To overlook such protection on the basis that these children are not one of us, simply demeans any notion of a free and democratic society.

They are here illegally, have probably LOST numerous appeals paid for by the taxpayer.
What part of no don’t they understand?

Jay,

The law could be wrong. couldn’t it?

Look…of course it`s deeply disturbing that children are treated like this….but frankly they are safer OUT of a Britain which is alien to them …..and hopelessly overpopulated for its fast diminishing resources….. and unable to stop the sort of treatment received by Baby Peter Connelly and Victoria Climbie.
I know the BBC has brainwashed you all into seriously imagining that the UK`s borders and wealth are infinitely elastic and that “we” are an hospitable tolerant people …but can`t you see that we have NO CHOICE about issues like immigration and the EU and fighting global capitalism`s wars?

By ‘Phil Woolas’ you obviously meant ‘The Labour party’.

What a typo!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  78. Jon Park

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  94. Phil Woolas guilty « Slugger O'Toole

    […] Chris Davies as being ‘soft on drugs and high on taxes’.Over on Liberal Conspiracy, they’ve been calling for Woolas’ expulsion from the party even before the verdict was announced. Already, a few pro-Labour tweeters are muttering about a […]

  95. Good riddance: Woolas found guilty | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] behalf of all of us at Liberal Conspiracy, good riddance. ————————- Share this […]

  96. Christopher Gurr

    Why I wont be mourning the end(appeal pending) of Phil Woolas' political career. http://bit.ly/bYTcYy. Via @donpaskini

  97. Let Them Work NE

    RT @libcon: EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  98. Saima Mir

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  99. Teresa

    EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WHdyjCR via @libcon a disgrace

  100. Richard Wilson

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  101. Nicholas Stewart

    Liberal Conspiracy – EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/df4Z0i

  102. Alice Fagiolo

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  103. David

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  104. Kelly

    @dhothersall you may want to look at this & then decide if he's 'decent' http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  105. simon hynes

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  106. Kevin Dykes

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  107. Beauty and Health, Sanatate si Frumusete | Beauty and Health, Sanatate si Frumusete - Foreverlivingweblog.info

    […] children who are self harming. Families were broken up and campaigns by local MPs were overruled. Read more Share and […]

  108. Jay Stringer

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  109. Ava Vidal

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  110. Phil Woolas ejected from parliament  —   MULE

    […] was also revealed today that Woolas authorised the use of force for private security companies Serco and G4S, even in the […]

  111. Andy S

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  112. Ross Lawson

    @PoliBlogManc That's my style, alright. Seriously, though, it was a shameful campaign. Plus, http://bit.ly/b0dLiD

  113. NCADC

    RT @libcon: While we're on the subject…EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  114. Alice

    RT @5ChinCrack: For those of you who are not convinced that Wrigley's Extra-toothed troll Phil Woolas is evil: http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  115. nobby-Lobby

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  116. zach pereira

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  117. emma dow

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  118. c c

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  119. L DTUC

    RT @ncadc: RT @libcon: While we're on the subject…EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  120. Press Not Sorry

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  121. The Curator

    RT @libcon: EXCLUSIVE: Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  122. Nick

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  123. Phil Woolas ejected from Parliament « NCADC news

    […] of today’s High Court verdict, the Liberal Conspiracy blog published papers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act which reveal Woolas authorised the use of force […]

  124. Angelique Mulholland

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  125. Look Left – Browne Review begins to bite | Left Foot Forward

    […] Miliband just last month, has said he will apply for judicial review. This morning, the excellent Liberal Conspiracy website revealed that it was Woolas, when in office, who authorised the use of force to deport […]

  126. WowPhilippines

    RT @sunny_hundal: EXCLUSIVE: Former minister Phil Woolas authorised use of force to deport immigrant children http://bit.ly/bYTcYy

  127. Woolas takes a leaf out of the Lib Dem election manual and gets called on it « Guy Debord's Cat

    […] was the President of the NUS. More recently his name has become synonymous with dirty tricks and vile behaviour while he was a Home Office minister. When in government, Woolas authorised security guards employed by private contractors Serco and […]

  128. noelito

    as someone who started work in #localgov working with asylum seekers this is sick but http://bit.ly/aZfPi6 @rowennadavis @donpaskini @libcon

  129. The rise and fall of Philip James Woolas « Paperback Rioter

    […] Authorised the use of force to deport the young, vulnerable and mentally ill. See this story broken recently by Liberal Conspiracy: When in government, Woolas authorised security guards […]

  130. What is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension? | Daily Mail Watch

    […] Woolas is a deeply unpleasant man who not content with authorising the forceful deportation of children during his time as Immigration Minister also decided to run for re-election by – and these are the word of the Daily Mail no less: […]

  131. Stuff Woolas | F For Philistine

    […] Why waste money defending someone so deplorable? Instead, chuck a fiver to the refugees Woolas authorised the use of force against. Woolas can fight an unwinnable court case with £200,000. Refugee Action can do a lot with far, far […]





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