Author: Jamie Grierson
Almost 1,000 flights were booked to deport people to Caribbean countries in the year before the UK government halted such removals in the wake of the Windrush scandal, official figures reveal.
In the year to March, 991 seats were booked on commercial flights to remove people to the Caribbean who were suspected of being in the UK illegally, according to figures provided by the immigration minister Caroline Nokes following a series of parliamentary questions.
Nokes confirmed in her answers that removals to the Caribbean had been deferred as part of a number of “additional steps in the context of [the government’s] response to the Windrush issues”.
The Home Office said later that the number of flights booked did not necessarily equate to the number of deportations as some removals may not have happened, while others may have involved multiple tickets for one person’s indirect flights. It did not say how many of the tickets were actually used for deportations, raising questions about how much money was spent unnecessarily.
Last month, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, told MPs that 63 people may have been wrongfully deported to Caribbean countries and that the Home Office was investigating.
The data provided reveals that in a two-year period from 2015 to 2017, the government spent £52m on all deportation flights, including £17.7m on charter flights. The costs for the most recent 12-month period to March are not available but Nokes said no charter flights had been operated to the Caribbean in that time.