Jamaicans who came to the UK as children will be exempt from a deportation flight after the Home Office reached an agreement with the country’s High Commissioner.
Up to 50 Jamaican criminals will be sent back to the Caribbean country on a charter flight on Wednesday amid an ongoing high-profile political row.
Seth Ramocan, who became Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the UK in 2016, told the Guardian that people who came to Britain under the age of 12 will no longer be on the flight.
While there has been no public announcement, the Home Office previously revealed that several passengers would no longer be on the flight after a number of appeals were lodged by specialist lawyers.
It comes after 82 black public figures, including Naomi Campbell and historian David Olusoga, wrote to airlines to urge them not to carry the passengers, claiming it risked unlawful removal of people with a right to remain in the UK.
This was rebuked by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, who said that those scheduled for deportation are “dangerous foreign criminals [who] have no place in our society”.
“These people have violated our laws and values, and I am unapologetic in my determination to remove these convicted foreign rapists, murders, and child sex offenders from our country,” Ms Patel said.
A breakdown of the 50 Jamaicans’ criminal records included two life sentences, counted at 20 years each, and totalled 294 years of prison sentences.
The Home Office has said that it intends to make deportation flights “more regular” as a means of “sending a clear message” regarding law and order.
It has so far run more than 30 such enforced return and deportation charter flights since April, to countries including France, Nigeria and Spain. Of all enforced returns that took place in 2019, one per cent were to Jamaica.
Controversy has surrounded flights to Jamaica following a number of deportations in connection to the Windrush scandal.
In February, the Court of Appeal ordered the Home Office to stop the deportation of 50 criminals after it ruled they did not have sufficient access to legal advice.
Campaigners had argued that they should be allowed to remain in the UK pending a full review into the Windrush scandal, which saw at least 83 wrongful deportations.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals to keep the public safe.”