A custody officer at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre has been suspended after residents had to be forcibly dispersed when they attempted to stop a woman from being deported.
Following the incident earlier this month concerns were raised over whether an officer, wearing protective equipment, had used his shield in an appropriate way.
Serco officers intervened when eight residents tried to stop staff from having access to one of the rooms in a bid to prevent a detainee from being deported. There were suggestions that they may have been armed with cutlery.
Nine staff armed with shields were called in to deal with the disturbance.
One woman complained of injury and was taken to hospital the following morning as a precautionary measure where it was found that she had bruising to her ankle.
Serco’s contract director at Yarl’s Wood Norman Abusin said: “It is an unfortunate fact that very occasionally at Yarl’s Wood some residents take it upon themselves to be disruptive and try to block the deportation of residents at the end of their appeals process.
“After several hours trying to persuade the residents to disperse voluntarily, the decision was taken to forcibly remove them. A number of staff had to be involved in the intervention, and it is a tribute to the staff at Yarl’s Wood that when they did intervene, the incident was rapidly resolved. The only injury was a mild bruise to a resident’s ankle.”
The action was recorded on a handheld camera and, following a review of that film by Home Office staff and HM Inspector of Prisons, Serco has sought additional external advice and assessment of the use of shields in the incident.
During the assessment, a member of staff has been suspended.
At the time of the incident Bedfordshire Police were called in and found that no criminal offence had been committed.
Police were again called to the centre following the sudden death of a 33 year old man at the immigration removal base in Milton Ernest.
Pinakin Patel, 33, collapsed and died at the centre’s family unit on Monday, April 20.
A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious and had been passed to the county’s coroner.
Earlier this year two Serco officers were suspended after an undercover Channel 4 documentary exposed ‘racist, sexist and generally abusive and degrading language’ towards detainees.
The investigation into this is still ongoing and a spokesman for Serco said there is currently nothing to report.