A private company that has been accused of serious abuses against immigrants has been awarded a £200m Home Office contract to run two immigration removal centres.
Serco, which already runs Yarl’s Wood detention centre, will take over Brook House and Tinsley House – currently run by G4S – from May 2020. The contract ends in 2028, with an option to extend until 2030.Show Full Article
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The outsourcing firm was recently at the centre of a court hearing where a Nigerian woman described how she was thrown to the floor “like a bag of cement” in Yarl’s Wood, in an incident involving 11 Serco guards.
It has also faced a string of allegations of sexual misconduct towards female detainees by staff, as well as claims that women in Yarl's Wood had been locked up for long spells and pregnant detainees held without justification.
The firm also sparked outrage in 2018 when, in its capacity as provider of asylum housing in Scotland, it issued notice to asylum seekers that it planned to change the locks in cases where asylum applications had been refused and tenants had not moved on.
Pierre Makhlouf, assistant director at Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), said: "We are dismayed that Serco continues to be awarded contracts to run detention centres in the UK despite obviously having failed to protect people in their custody in the past, including a string of sexual abuse scandals in Yarl’s Wood.
"Immigration detention in the UK has become big business. It is unfortunately in the interests of companies like Serco that receive lucrative contracts from the state to drive down costs to maximise profit. As it is, conditions in immigration detention are inhumane and it is our clients that pay the cost.
"We want to ensure that the Home Office bears ultimate responsibility for the conduct of private firms such as Serco, and that it does not use outsourcing as a means of evading accountability for the people it decides to detain."
Serco said it had a “great deal of experience of caring for people in the immigration system both in the UK and internationally” and it "understood the sensitivity and complexity of this role” and was “committed to ensuring that there is a healthy, decent environment in the centres”.
Immigration minister Kevin Foster said: “This contract is a major step forward in our programme of immigration detention reform. It will significantly improve the day-to-day lives of detainees and the staff who support them."
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