Home Office: Private flights only used for deportation when scheduled airlines are unavailable
13th July 2009: Private jets to fly deportees out of the country cost the UK Borders Agency more than £8.2 million. The figures reveal the expense has shot up by more than two thirds, compared with last year when the figure was about £4.8million.
The figures come at a time when deep concern are already being expressed over the way Whitehall is using money on removing illegal immigrants.
The figures make it clear that the cost of deportations has reached almost £27 million. Rather, the full cost of deporting illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers over the past four years has now topped £81million.
Describing the bills as ‘shocking’, the opposition politicians have asked the ministers to explain the escalating costs of private flights.
Home Affairs spokesman for the Scottish National Party Pete Wishart says the figures are indeed shocking, and the UK Government must explain why the number of chartered flights has soared.
The need for removal is not disputed, but it is not clear why chartering private jets is considered by the Border Agency as the best use of taxpayers’ money, he says.
Wishart says the working of the Borders Agency is ‘chaotic and costly’. His assertion assumes significance as a woman and her four-year-old son, sent back to Ivory Coast, were instantly returned to Britain after being refused entry. The failed deportation attempt had cost taxpayers £70,000.
Clarifying, the Home Office says private flights are only used for deportation when scheduled airlines are unavailable.
A Home Office spokesman adds: ‘Anyone who is in the UK illegally is expected to leave and the UK Border Agency will not hesitate to enforce their removal where necessary.
‘We only use charter flights after careful consideration and when it is economical and efficient to do so. Their use ensures that we can remove people to locations where scheduled flights are not readily available.
‘In 2008, they played a part in enabling us to deport a record number of foreign criminals – nearly 5,400.’