The horrific events when a school shooter killed 17 in Florida a few days ago made me feel glad that I don’t live in a country where gun crime accounts for around 30,000 deaths a year.
But the shame I felt on Wednesday evening made me gasp that it happened in 21st century Britain and to a group of vulnerable people. I’m referring to the immigration detainees whose bus caught fire as it took them to a deportation flight.
The immigrants were handcuffed by escort staff before they were allowed to get off! This subhuman treatment goes against all Home Office rules, human rights and common decency.
Imagine the scene of panic as toxic fumes filled the coach minutes before it exploded. In a normal, decent world everyone would have filed off in an orderly manner but on this occasion guards started handing out handcuffs colleagues to use on the passengers.
The whole process delayed the group from disembarking by around five minutes before the Capita-owned security firm Tascor allowed the immigrants to step off the bus and walk to a safe zone 40ft away on the M25 before the bus exploded.
The story broken by The Guardian newspaper stated: “Home Office rules say that restraint during transit could amount to degrading or inhuman treatment, in breach of the European convention on human rights, unless risk is properly assessed and the use of restraints fully justified.”
Capita insists it was “factually inaccurate that when the fire was identified the individuals were then handcuffed”.
The detainees described panic and chaos on the coach. Faizal, a rejected asylum seeker who was also on the coach, told the Guardian: “We couldn’t breathe on the coach because of the fumes. People were screaming: ‘Open the door, open the door.’ But they wouldn’t.”
A horrific picture is now emerging from the fateful journey and it makes me wonder what is happening to Britain today and why staff, dealing with vulnerable people in stressful situations, are incapable of showing an ounce of human kindness or humanity to their fellow man.
There are times when I am deeply ashamed by what unfolds in the UK and this is one of those occasions.
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