Serco shackling detainee for 8 days

FGP case – High Court judgement finds Serco shackling detainee for 8 days breached Art 3 – 05/07/12 FPG was restrained and attached to security staff at all times, 24/7, during nearly 9 days hospiatlisation. This included while showering and using the toilet, as well as during medical consultations and treatment and while asleep. There was nothing in FGP’s history to suggest he would abscond from custody. The high court judge found that Serco, the private company that runs Colnbrook, acted in violation of the detainee’s right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. The judgement notes that “… nor were there any requests from medical staff to remove restrains”. Dr Jonathan Fluxman, chair of Medical Justice, a charity that is contacted by about 1,000 immigration detainees a year, said ; “This is far from an isolated incident – we regularly receive similar complaints from detainees. Something appears to have gone badly wrong when hospital staff remained passive over a patient in their care who was needlessly shackled over a continuous period of 8 days. A High Court judge found this to be inhuman and degrading treatment; it also flies in the face of basic rights for all patients. We would interested to hear what Hillingdon Hospital have to say about this matter.”. Download the judgement and see the summary by Liberty.

Summary by Liberty
“Our client ‘FGP’ was detained in an immigration detention centre pending his removal to Algeria, which he was trying to challenge. He already suffered with depression, having lost a wife to cancer, having suffered the death of a baby girl and the death of his teenage son in a drowning accident.  In immigration detention he developed severe abdominal pain which resulted in his emergency hospitalisation for almost 9 days. At all times he was restrained by either ratchet cuffs or closet chains – which are handcuffs at the end of a chain which is then attached to a security officer. The security company running the centre and which was responsible for his treatment was Serco.

During his hospitalisation FGP was restrained and attached to security staff at all times, 24/7. This included while showering and using the toilet, as well as during medical consultations and treatment and while asleep. This was despite the fact that FGP was in a separate room on the 6th floor of the hospital and any security concerns could have simply been addressed by posting officers at the door of his room. In any event there was nothing in FGP’s history to suggest he would abscond from custody. FGP found the experience humiliating and distressing – he described walking in front of other patients in handcuffs, the degrading experience of having to use the toilet in front of security staff and the lack of sleep because officers would talk all night. He described pleading with the staff and pointing out that he was not a criminal.

The Court found that to have restrained FGP in this way throughout his admission to hospital was a violation of his right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and was therefore in violation of Article 3 ECHR.  The judge noted that FGP was co-operative and very concerned for his own health. It must have been clear, he said, the FHP was a vulnerable man. The judge accepted the evidence that FGP was degraded and humiliated by the treatment meted out to him by Serco staff and that they had failed to consider whether an alternative way of dealing with the matter might be found. The judge added “The officers presence in, or if it was possible to see into the room, outside the door was surely all that was needed”.

The judge was also critical of the Secretary of State’s policy regarding restraint during medical treatment. He noted that the policy had been criticised before for being “over zealous” and was concerned to note that “little seems to have been done to meet those concerns.” He added, “I can only express the hope that those observations will not only be noted but applied.””

Mairi Clare Rodgers
Director of Media Relations, Liberty
020 7378 3656