84-year-old dementia patient died in handcuffs at immigration detention centre

The Chief Inspector of Prisons said the system had "utterly failed" the "most vulnerable people in detention"

An 84-year-old suffering from dementia who was detained at a privately owned immigration centre was taken to hospital in handcuffs and died while in restrains, a report has revealed.

Doctors said that the Canadian man, understood to be Alois Dvorzac, was unfit for detention or deportation after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but had spent almost three weeks in Harmondsworth immigration removal centre when he died.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has said that some of the “most vulnerable people in detention” had been “utterly failed by the system”.

According to HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) the man’s death is one of a number of “shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost” at the centre run by contractor GEO.

HMIP published the report after an unannounced visit to the detention centre, near Heathrow airport, last year.

Other “shocking” cases include a victim in a wheelchair who was handcuffed on a journey to hospital for no obvious reason, and another of a man who was dying and remained handcuffed while he was sedated and undergoing an angioplasty procedure in hospital.

Inspectors at the centre also found that 11 detainees had been held at the centre for more than a year, including a man detained for almost two-and-a-half years, despite being willing to return to his country of origin.

The report also revealed a rise in detainees self-harming. Nearly 100 hunger-strikers were identified in the six months prior to the inspection, including failed asylum seeker Isa Muazu before his departure.

Read more: Fears for hunger striker Isa Muazu as he is deported to Nigeria

Private jet standing by to deport 'close to death' hunger striker Isa Muazu to Nigeria  

In addition, HMIP described some of the rooms at the 600-capacity detention centre as overcrowded, dirty and bleak.

Ministers have said they will scrutinise the performance of GEO, a UK subsidiary of the US group of the same name, which also runs Dungavel House immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that vulnerable detainees at GEO run Harmondsworth centre had been "utterly failed by the system".  

Mr Hardwick said that “there was some uncertainty about the future of the management contract”.

“The centre did not seem to be progressing and some services were being poorly managed,” Mr Hardwick added.

The report warned that a lack of risk assessments meant most detainees were handcuffed on escort. On at least two occasions, inspectors discovered elderly, vulnerable and incapacitated detainees, one of whom was terminally ill, “needlessly handcuffed in an excessive and unacceptable manner”.

Inspectors warned insufficient weight was given to doctors' opinions as to fitness for detention.

Dementia sufferer Mr Dvorzac was not released despite being unfit for detention and no referral was made to social services to have his care needs assessed, HMIP said.

He was refused entry into the UK in January last year and, after a stay in hospital, was detained at Harmondsworth and declared unfit for detention a week later. A doctor’s note at the time flagged up that he “requires social care”.

An attempt to remove Mr Dvorzac was called off on 6 February after a doctor declared him unfit to fly and he was returned to the removal centre.

He was taken to hospital in handcuffs on the 8th, and returned to Harmondsworth before returning to hospital on 10 February. He had been in handcuffs for almost five hours when he died.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is preparing to investigate the incident but is awaiting confirmation of the cause of death. Inquest proceedings are being conducted by West London Coroner's Court.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “The use of restraint in this case seems completely unjustified and must not be repeated. Clear instructions have been issued making clear that restraint should only happen where absolutely necessary.”

A statement from private contractor GEO said: “Detainees are not routinely handcuffed when taken out of the centre.

”However, where there is a documented risk of absconding, handcuffs may be used, balanced against a number of factors, including their age.

“Managers have to use discretion to take difficult decisions and we have issued them with additional guidance,” the contractor added.

Additional reporting by PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on