A Zimbabwean asylum seeker who could not stand unaided was
handcuffed on a journey from an immigration detention centre to
hospital against the advice of his doctor, it is claimed.
Dr Frank Arnold, who visited the man after being requested to do so
by a friend, said making him wear handcuffs was “inappropriate and
The man had been on hunger strike for 37 days at Harmondsworth
immigration removal centre in west London, in protest at a decision
to send him back to Zimbabwe after his asylum claim failed.
Arnold said: “If his medical condition deteriorated further the
paramedics travelling with him would need access to his arms and
chest, which would have been inhibited by the handcuffs.”
He said he asked for the 30-year-old man to be taken to hospital as
soon as possible. He claimed the man was severely emaciated and in
medical shock but that the handcuffs were still used on the
journey. “There was zero risk of absconding,” he said.
Arnold claimed Harmondsworth did not have the medical facilities
that the man’s condition required.
However, a Home Office spokesperson said the centre provided
standards of care equivalent to those available in the NHS.
She said any detainee transferred from a removal centre to an
outside hospital for treatment remained in detention, and that a
risk assessment would be conducted before they left the centre to
determine whether handcuffs should be used.