Rwanda: Officers raid homes of first people to be deported

Officers have raided the homes of the first people to be deported to Rwanda.

It comes following the recent passing of the Safety of Rwanda Act, which declared the central African nation safe following concerns raised by the Supreme Court last year.

A video released by the Home Office showed officers entering homes and bringing out people detained in handcuffs, before putting them in the back of secure vans.

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According to the government, "operational teams within the Home Office have been working at pace to safely and swiftly detain individuals in scope for relocation to Rwanda, with more activity due to be carried out in the coming weeks".

It comes after a failed asylum seeker voluntarily chose to go to Kigali once their application to stay in the UK failed.

The Rwanda plan has been a major policy for the Conservative government since April 2022, but has faced repeated legal challenges.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: "Our Rwanda partnership is a pioneering response to the global challenge of illegal migration, and we have worked tirelessly to introduce new, robust legislation to deliver it.

"Our dedicated enforcement teams are working at pace to swiftly detain those who have no right to be here so we can get flights off the ground.

"This is a complex piece of work, but we remain absolutely committed to operationalising the policy, to stop the boats and break the business model of people smuggling gangs."

The government has previously said it has 2,200 "detention spaces", alongside 200 new caseworkers and 500 "highly trained escorts" ready.

It added that planes have been booked, with flights set to take off in nine to 11 weeks' time.

Eddie Montgomery, the Home Office's director of enforcement, said: "Our specialist operational teams are highly trained and fully equipped to carry out the necessary enforcement activity at pace and in the safest way possible.

"It is vital that operational detail is kept to a minimum, to protect colleagues involved and those being detained, as well as ensuring we can deliver this large-scale operation as quickly as possible."

The Rwanda plan was introduced in a bid to deter people from crossing the Channel in small boats and entering the UK illegally.

Since the passage of the latest legislation, tensions have grown between the UK and Ireland after people entered the Republic to escape facing deportation.

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But the government in Westminster says it will not take people back until a reciprocal agreement is put in place to allow returns to France for people who cross the Channel.

The latest figures show that 7,567 people have crossed the Channel since the start of 2024 - 27% higher than this time last year, and 13% higher than the equivalent period in 2022.