G4S: Securing whose world? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/11171/all cached version 18/04/2018 14:25:51 en ‘Please get me moved from here!’ Pregnant woman in G4S asylum housing https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/pregnant-woman-g4s-asylum-housing <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Refugee and asylum seeking women are shockingly over-represented in the records of UK maternal deaths. Yet pregnant women and infants continue to be placed in dangerous housing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RearwindowyardSharonshouse.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rear window of Sharon&#039;s G4S asylum home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RearwindowyardSharonshouse.JPG" alt="" title="Rear window of Sharon&#039;s G4S asylum home" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rear window of Sharon’s G4S asylum home (all images by John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>One showery September morning I stood outside a large red brick house, just off the town centre in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.</p> <p>I’d been told that the hostel was being used by the security company G4S as accommodation for pregnant women asylum seekers, and lone mothers with babies. One of the growing number of lone mother and refugee children hostels <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-shame-of-asylum-housing-of-child-refugees-in-the-uk/">in the UK’s asylum market</a>.</p> <p>Old carpets had been dumped in the hostel’s back yard, a blocked drain overflowed. It didn’t seem a safe place for children to play.</p> <h2>Leaky ceilings and filthy carpets</h2> <p>“Come and see, carpet is too dirty for my baby!” Rita shows me to her room, introduces me to her fourteen month old son. Friends had provided a play-mat to cover the filthy carpet.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BackyardSharonsHouseplay.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Back yard, Sharon’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BackyardSharonsHouseplay.JPG" alt="" title="Back yard, Sharon’s home" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Safe for toddlers? Back yard, Sharon’s home</span></span></span>Rita and her housemate Janet were showing me round the hostel. In the kitchen Janet said: “This kitchen is the only room we can meet and let the children play.” She showed me damp patches on the kitchen ceiling where water had leaked from the bathroom above.</p> <p>We looked in on the lounge. “We can’t use this room now, they put old beds in there,” Janet said. It was packed with beds and children’s buggies. “We have nowhere else to put them, the stairs are steep.”</p> <p>A local agency who work with women survivors of trafficking had asked me to take a look at the hostel. They’d protested to G4S on behalf of a client from West Africa, a heavily pregnant woman who had been placed in a room at the top of the house, up three flights of stairs.</p><p><span>An agency worker told me: “Sharon says the place is very dirty and that she is stranded at the top of the house. G4S are simply not doing anything about her.</span><span>” </span></p><p><span>I&nbsp;</span>climbed up the stairs to Sharon’s room. She was sitting on her bed. I apologised for visiting on my own. (Usually I visit all-women accommodation alongside a female colleague). “That’s OK, please get me moved from here, I have never unpacked,” Sharon said. “I must move. I am in constant pain, in both my knees. I cannot take painkillers, for the baby.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/StaircarpetcloseupSharonshouse.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Dirty staircase, Rose’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/StaircarpetcloseupSharonshouse.JPG" alt="" title="Dirty staircase, Rose’s home" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dirty staircase, Rose’s home</span></span></span>I recognised Sharon. She had been in a G4S house in Barnsley. I had been told that earlier in her pregnancy she had been in an attic room there and had fallen down the stairs. “They have said I will maybe have a C-section. I could not carry my baby up all those stairs. I stay in bed most of the time,” she said.</p> <p>The carpets along the corridors and the stair carpets were filthy. G4S display a management sheet in their houses to record all inspections, cleaning and work. The sheet showed the hostel communal areas had last been cleaned in early July, almost three months previously.</p> <p>An official resident list named twelve people, six of them apparently small children under three years. There was a baby of fifteen months and a toddler of two and a half. The record was incomplete: Sharon and some others were not listed.</p> <h2>Punished for complaining</h2> <p>The previous week I had been to see Rose, in another G4S house, in Sheffield. Rose, also from West Africa, is a survivor of trafficking. In this house too the corridor and stair carpets were dirty. The last recorded clean had been over three months ago. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Floorlevelkichencupboard_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Kitchen cupboard in Rose’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Floorlevelkichencupboard_0.JPG" alt="" title="Kitchen cupboard in Rose’s home" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kitchen cupboard in Rose’s home </span></span></span></p><p>“I can’t walk in bare feet outside my room, the soles of my slippers are dirty.” Rose said. She showed me her own very clean room, and the women’s clean bathrooms. “There are seven women here, just one dirty kitchen, I have to store pans and food in my room,” she said.</p> <p>Two women joined us in the kitchen. Tina opened a floor cupboard, exposing mould and dirt. “I never come down here at night, not for months, there are cockroaches when you put the lights on.”</p> <p>On the notice-board a Pest Control notice, dated February 2017, mentioned cockroaches, but there was no evidence of visits in the eight months since then. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/PestControlnoticecockroaches.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Pest control notice in Rose’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/PestControlnoticecockroaches.JPG" alt="" title="Pest control notice in Rose’s home" width="460" height="202" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pest control notice in Rose’s home</span></span></span>On the same notice board was a threatening warning to the women, a controversial ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">behave or get deported’</a> notice.&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course G4S doesn’t have powers to deport tenants. I’d exposed this particular abuse of power <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">here back in April 2017</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>G4S claimed then that they were withdrawing the notices from the properties they managed.</p> <p>Rose told me: “I was forced to move a month ago from a really clean, nice house in Rotherham. I had friends and help there. I complained to G4S because a woman in my house was aggressive and shouted at me. She was really mentally ill, but she reminded me of the woman who trafficked me here. I was very frightened. G4S did not give her a place on her own —&nbsp;they moved me instead.” Rose seemed depressed, and became tearful as I left.</p> <h2>33 weeks pregnant, moved away from medical help</h2> <p>In Barnsley, on the 29th of September, I visited Lucy. She was 33 weeks pregnant, but that day she’d been moved from Barnsley town, near the hospital, to a shared house six miles away in a former mining village, on the outer edge of the borough. Lucy told me she had appointments with her midwife in Barnsley, and at the hospital, over the next few days.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BEHAVE.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="G4S letter to tenants implying it has powers to deport"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BEHAVE.JPG" alt="" title="G4S letter to tenants implying it has powers to deport" width="240" height="352" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S implies it has powers to deport</span></span></span>“I cannot stay here, I could walk to the hospital when I was in Barnsley. The G4S driver said this place was six miles from Barnsley, he pleaded with the G4S welfare officer not to put me up here. I rang about a taxi to get to the hospital — he said it would cost £18 there and back.” </p> <p>On the 4th of October, Lucy asked me to post a letter from her midwife to G4S and the Home Office. The letter confirmed that Lucy was now 34 weeks pregnant and at high risk. It went on:</p> <p>“She is currently housed in accommodation in the attic 2 flights of very steep stairs. This is impacting greatly on her physical and mental wellbeing and will not be suitable for her baby when she delivers. She has also been moved away from this surgery which means a two bus journey for appointments.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">This is impacting greatly on her physical and mental wellbeing.</p> <p>Lucy told me: “Take my picture walking up these stairs, there are three flights of stairs.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Three weeks on, and 36 weeks pregnant Lucy is still waiting for a move.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Lucyalmostatherroom.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Lucy at top of double flight of stairs"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Lucyalmostatherroom.JPG" alt="" title="Lucy at top of double flight of stairs" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Midwife: “This is impacting greatly on her physical and mental wellbeing.” </span></span></span></p> <h2>Children’s early years, blighted</h2> <p>G4S, the largest security company in the world, won a slice of the £1.7 billion UK Home Office COMPASS (Commercial and Operating Managers Procuring Asylum Support) contract in June 2012 with two other security companies, Serco and Reliance. None of them had experience of housing. In the first months of the contract an Ethiopian woman whose <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-asylum-housing-evictions-begin-mother-and-baby-dumped-in-substandard-fl">twelve week old baby had a heart defect</a>, was transported from Bradford, forty miles away, to a tiny flat in Doncaster with no cooker, table or chair, and only a tiny sink to wash dishes and clothes. </p> <p>In November 2012, Angela, from West Africa, a survivor of trafficking, was transferred with her five month old baby son from her Leeds council flat to a slum property — by Cascade Housing, then a G4S subcontractor. The back yard was piled with rubbish. The place was infested with cockroaches and slugs. She did not dare put her baby on the floor. Angela <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby-s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">found a cockroach in her baby’s bottle</a>.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Refugee and asylum seeking women make up 12% of maternal deaths, and 0.3% of the UK population.</p><p>In 2013 in evidence to a Children’s Society parliamentary investigation Dr Jenny Phillimore of Birmingham University pointed to “<a href="https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/Policy/asylum-inquiry/dr_jenny_phillimore.pdf">growing evidence of high maternal and infant mortality rates amongst asylum seekers and in asylum seeker dispersal areas</a> …Refugee and asylum seeking women make up 12% of all maternal deaths, and 0.3% of the population in the UK. The perinatal mortality rates in the City Hospital Trust area of Birmingham which at the time of data collection contained the highest concentration of asylum seeker housing in the city, is 12 per 1000 and rising compared with a national average of 7.6.” Dr Phillimore told the inquiry. “The City Hospital area of Birmingham has <a href="https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/Policy/asylum-inquiry/asylum_support_for_children_and_young_people_-_session_1.pdf">the highest infant mortality rate in Europe</a>, not just in the UK.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bedsbuggiesSharonslounge.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Lounge packed with beds and buggies"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bedsbuggiesSharonslounge.JPG" alt="" title="Lounge packed with beds and buggies" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Communal lounge in Sharon’s home</span></span></span></p><p>In 2013 the Refugee Council and the Maternity Alliance issued their report “<a href="https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/6402/When_Maternity_Doesn_t_Matter_-_Ref_Council__Maternity_Action_report_Feb2013.pdf">When Maternity Doesn’t Matter</a>: dispersing pregnant women seeking asylum”, based on interviews with twenty women. The researchers found:</p> <p>“Accommodation for pregnant women or those who had recently given birth was often inappropriate. There was rudimentary equipment for the baby but little effort was made to ensure adequate hygiene and sanitary facilities for new-borns. <a href="https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/6402/When_Maternity_Doesn_t_Matter_-_Ref_Council__Maternity_Action_report_Feb2013.pdf">Women often had to climb several flights of stairs to their rooms.</a>” </p> <p>In 2016, in Glasgow, in Serco’s COMPASS contract area, Red Cross researchers spoke to pregnant asylum seekers, and new mothers in their report <a href="http://www.redcross.org.uk/~/media/BritishRedCross/Documents/About%20us/A%20Healthy%20Start%20Report.pdf">“A Healthy Start?</a>”:</p> <p>“The state of carpets preoccupied several of the women with young babies who were about to crawl and spending quite a lot of time on the floor. Living in a dirty, cramped house meant that many of them were not feeling able to relax and feel at home. Several lived on upper floors, which caused difficulties when trying to carry a baby, a buggy and bags of shopping up several flights of stairs.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Accommodation for pregnant women or those who had recently given birth was often inappropriate.</p> <p>On 31 January 2017, the&nbsp; record of the private companies in asylum housing was laid bare in the latest UK Home Affairs Select Committee report on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/637/63702.htm">Asylum Accommodation,</a> which found “vulnerable people in unsafe accommodation … children living with infestations of mice, rats or bed bugs, lack of health care for pregnant women … inadequate support for victims of rape and torture.”</p> <h2>Making money from refugee babies and toddlers</h2> <p>I and my SYMAAG colleague Violet Dickenson and fellow campaigners have worked alongside brave whistleblower tenants over five years to expose conditions in the G4S <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">mother and baby market</a> in asylum housing hostels. We exposed the G4S/Jomast Stockton hostel in 2012 where mothers described their rooms as “cells”, and a G4S Leeds hostel in 2015 in a grubby Victorian villa with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">one bath for twelve women and eleven babies</a>.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/firetrap_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/firetrap_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In June this year support workers told me about a G4S/ Cascade <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">“fire trap hostel”</a> in Halifax with seventeen people, parents, a pregnant mother, new born babies and toddlers.</p> <p>G4S gets £8.42 per family member, per night, for these hostels (according to contract details revealed in a High Court judgement <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2017/200.html">here</a>). At that price, packing 17 people into the Halifax hostel brings the monthly take to around £4,300 of taxpayer’s money. The Doncaster hostel’s take would be around £3,000, every month. </p> <p>Jomast Accommodation Ltd., the G4S contractor in the North East of England, has extended the Stockton hostel, and developed similar hostels in Hartlepool and Newcastle. Smaller G4S hostels for lone mothers and babies have appeared in HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in Doncaster, Derby, Barnsley and recently in Huddersfield.</p> <h2>The Hostile Environment</h2> <p>The UK Labour government by 2009 was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/inside-yarls-wood-britains-shame-over-child-detainees-1674380.html">locking up 2000 children a year in detention centres, around half of them in the Serco managed Yarl’s Wood centre, near Bedford.</a> In April 2009 after an inspection of Yarl’s Wood <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/inside-yarls-wood-britains-shame-over-child-detainees-1674380.html">the Independent reported</a> that the Children’s Commissioner for England “found that seriously ill children were denied hospital treatment.... ….Children suffering from serious medical conditions and the mentally ill were routinely kept in detention despite guidelines stating clearly they should not be. …. An eight-month-old baby with asthma was neither released nor given an inhaler.”</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Underplaymat.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Under the play-mat"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Underplaymat.JPG" alt="" title="Under the play-mat" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Under the play-mat</span></span></span></p><p>In September 2009, Home Office Director of Criminality and Detention at the UK Border Agency and former Assistant Commissioner at the Met, <a href="https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dave-wood-6846056a">Dave Wood</a>, was called before the Home Affairs Committee. He described Yarl’s Wood as a “family friendly detention centre”. MPs asked him: “Why are children detained under the immigration system, because they have not done anything wrong, have they?” Wood explained that the lack of detention <a href="http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c7436e4b-362a-45b4-a2c4-d0fe1086223c">“would act as a significant magnet and pull to families from abroad”.</a></p> <p>In May 2017, the government handed G4S <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/09/g4s-welfare-support-families-children-deportation-gatwick">a new contract to lock up families</a> at the Tinsley House detention centre at Gatwick airport. BBC TV Panorama in early September 2017 <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/g4s_brook_house_immigration_removal_centre_undercover">exposed the violence and mistreatment of people</a> detained in G4S’s other Gatwick centre, Brook House.</p> <p>G4S, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/11/g4s-guards-at-youth-prison-alleged-to-have-falsified-reports-to-avoid-fines">exposed for its abuse of children</a> in children’s prisons, like Medway in Kent, which it managed, decided to sell (yes it can sell!), these youth prison contracts together with its children’s homes. G4S Children’s services as a whole had annual revenues of £40m from government and local authority contracts. In June 2017, G4S <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/03/g4s-sells-controversial-childrens-homes-business/">sold eighteen of its children’s homes to the Prospect Group for over £11m</a>.</p> <p>In December 2016, the government handed G4S, Serco and Clearsprings a two year extension to their asylum housing contracts, stretching them to September 2019. In August 2017, the Home Office started to advertise for <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/05/government-launches-tendering-process-troublesome-asylum-seekers/">new contracts from 2019.</a> The contracts are worth £600m of public money. </p> <p>Consider the companies’ record. Consider the very notion of international security companies being handed control over housing for pregnant women, for refugee babies and children. For years now we’ve listened to asylum tenants. We’ve witnessed conditions that blight children’s lives. Campaigners are working hard to stop international security companies like G4S and Serco getting contracts to house refugee babies and children.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Note: For the refugee women’s protection, names have been changed in this article.</em></p><p><em>All images by John Grayson. Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><br /></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/gareth-mitchell/high-court-blasts-outrageous-assault-by-tascor-staff-on-tort">High Court blasts ‘outrageous’ assault by Tascor staff on torture survivor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/people-come-in-here-normal-but-they-get-ill-protesting-against-">‘People come in here normal, but they get ill.’ Protesting against deaths at a UK migrant jail</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/five-years-of-denial-uk-government-s-reckless-pursuit-of-punitive-asylum-">Five years of denial: the UK government’s reckless pursuit of a punitive asylum policy — never mind the evidence of harm</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Shine A Light John Grayson Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:07:33 +0000 John Grayson 114149 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On the lethal restraint of young black Londoner, Rashan Charles https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/clare-sambrook/police-restraint-of-rashan-charles-hackney-ipcc <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The police claimed that an officer intervened to prevent a young man from harming himself. Video evidence suggests a different story. (<em>warning</em>: distressing)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DFY9xChWsAAcM7v.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Charles, according to @kasxest on Twitter"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DFY9xChWsAAcM7v.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Charles, according to @kasxest on Twitter" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles, according to @kasxest on Twitter</span></span></span></p><p>On Friday morning, 4 August, I emailed some questions to the UK police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).</p><p>My questions concerned the moments leading up to the death of Rashan Charles, a 20 year old black man, in the early morning of Saturday, 22 July 2017, in the London borough of Hackney.</p><p>You can see something of what happened to Rashan in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashman-police-watchdog-to-investigate-lethal-restraint-of-young-black">video that was posted</a>&nbsp;on Twitter and Facebook late on that Saturday night. (<em>Warning</em>: it’s distressing).</p><p>The place is&nbsp;a supermarket&nbsp;on&nbsp;Hackney’s Kingsland Road. What we’re seeing is the shop’s CCTV footage.&nbsp;A young black man, slightly built, walks down a supermarket aisle. We see him from behind. That’s Rashan Charles.</p><p>A uniformed police officer runs into view, grabs Rashan from behind, pulls him around, pushes him back towards the camera. Nothing we see in Rashan’s demeanour suggests threat. We see no behaviour that might explain what happens next.</p> <p>The officer hurls Rashan to the floor, leans heavily on top of him, appears to apply a headlock. Rashan’s legs kick against the floor. </p><p>A shop worker in a blue shirt, holding cardboard, looks on.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHMAN_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHMAN_1.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>Another man, tall, athletic, in blue jeans and black top, gets astride Rashan, pinning his legs down. The uniformed officer cuffs Rashan behind his back.</p> <p>At about 1 minute 45 seconds Rashan appears to stop moving. The officer and the tall man look into his face. The officer shakes him. Rashan stays face down on the floor, hands cuffed behind his back, the tall athletic man still pinning him down.</p> <p>The video lasts 2 minutes and 17 seconds. (A longer, 3 minute 52 second, version of the video appeared on YouTube late on Sunday afternoon. Rashan is still under restraint by the end of it.)</p><p></p><p><iframe width=“560" height=“315” src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rNvf6puOd3c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">The official version</span></h2> <p>Across UK national media by Sunday 07:00 only BBC online had noted the incident. (I preserved the BBC’s first report <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashman-police-watchdog-to-investigate-lethal-restraint-of-young-black">here</a>&nbsp;and below.) A video was mentioned. The BBC chose not to share that with the public, not to describe its contents, not to provide a hyperlink.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 1.2em;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BBC_REPORT_SCREENSHOT_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="BBC report captured Sunday 23 July 7.04AM"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BBC_REPORT_SCREENSHOT_0.jpg" alt="" title="BBC report captured Sunday 23 July 7.04AM" width="240" height="519" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BBC report captured Sunday 23 July 07:04hrs</span></span></span></span></p><p>No mention of “restraint”. Not by the police. Not by the BBC who reported only the official line: The police had followed a man on foot after trying to stop a car on the Kingsland Road. The police had “intervened” to “prevent the man from harming himself”. He was “taken ill” after “trying to swallow an object”.</p><p>What might those words suggest? A young man out for the night, fleeing the police, swallowing illegal drugs, choking? A police officer, stepping in, trying to save the young man’s life? </p> <p>We might picture the swallowing, the choking, the calming, the encouragement to cough, the 5 back blows, the 5 abdominal thrusts, the <a href="http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2301.aspx?categoryid=72">actions recommended in the event of someone choking</a>. </p> <p>Nothing like that happens in the video.</p> <p>Later that Sunday morning, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/ipcc-investigating-police-contact-man-hackney-he-died">issued a statement</a> announcing the start of its investigation. </p> <p>The IPCC stated: “The man became unwell and first aid was provided by a police officer, police medic and paramedics. The IPCC has obtained evidence which indicates an object was removed from his throat at the scene.” </p> <p>Again, no mention of “restraint”.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">Eight seconds behind</span></h2> <p>On the morning of Monday 24 July the <em>London Evening Standard</em> online published <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/cctv-footage-shows-rashan-charles-swallow-object-while-being-chased-by-police-a3594521.html">a second video,</a> 53 seconds long, including, the <em>Standard</em> claimed, the moment Rashan swallows an object.</p> <p>The video tells its own story, with elements the <em>Standard</em> failed to note.</p><p><iframe src='//players.brightcove.net/1348423965/E1bbO8ZNcg_default/index.html?videoId=5518922071001' allowfullscreen frameborder=0></iframe></p><p>The camera, inside the shop, watches the entrance. At about 11 seconds into the video Rashan walks in. We see his face. He puts his hand to his mouth (the moment, the <em>Standard</em> says, when he swallowed an object).&nbsp;Rashan walks across our screen and out of view.</p><p>About 8 seconds after Rashan walked in, the police officer follows, running into the shop. We see his face. He runs out of shot. For about 7 seconds, in the&nbsp;<em>Standard</em>&nbsp;video, both men are unseen.&nbsp;</p><p>What happens during those seconds? The first video shows some of it: Rashan walking down the supermarket aisle, the police officer running, grabbing Rashan from behind, pulling him, turning him, pushing him.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/cctv-footage-shows-rashan-charles-swallow-object-while-being-chased-by-police-a3594521.html"><em>Standard </em>video</a> picks up the story as they come back into view. The officer has got Rashan’s arms pushed up behind his back. He pushes Rashan against an ice-cream cabinet, then throws him to the floor. Of the scene on the floor we see only Rashan’s trainers, kicking against the floor.</p> <p>The first video shows more of what’s happening on the floor: the heavy and prolonged restraint, the tall man joining in, Rashan falling still.</p> <p>Some questions:</p> <p>In what way was the officer trying to prevent Rashan from harming himself? Which actions suggest the prevention of harm?</p> <p>If, as the Metropolitan Police claimed (and the police watchdog and the BBC repeated) the officer “intervened” to prevent Rashan from harming himself, how could the officer know that Rashan had swallowed something? The video evidence suggests that he ran into the shop 8 seconds <i>after</i> Rashan is presumed to have swallowed.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">Death by “restraint”</span></h2> <p>The first video appeared on my Twitter feed early on Sunday morning, 23 July 2017. I viewed it maybe 20 times, noted detail and timings, published <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashman-police-watchdog-to-investigate-lethal-restraint-of-young-black">my report</a>, with video embedded, and quoting the BBC story in full, here on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a> that Sunday morning, and launched it on Twitter. (Rashan had been identified on social media only, and by his nickname “Rashman”.)</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">my report: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rashman?src=hash">#Rashman</a>: Police watchdog to investigate lethal restraint of young black man in Hackney | <a href="https://twitter.com/SHINEreports">@SHINEreports</a> <a href="https://t.co/4JBNqGB9eI">https://t.co/4JBNqGB9eI</a></p>— CLARE SAMBROOK (@CLARESAMBROOK) <a href="https://twitter.com/CLARESAMBROOK/status/889058686504759297">July 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script type="text/javascript"></script><p>I got the story out fast: I’d researched other state-related deaths of which the first official reports, containing such phrases as “taken ill”, “became unwell”, “took ill”, proved misleading.</p> <p>I’ve reported on “restraint-related” deaths of people of colour, including <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">Jimmy Mubenga</a>, aged 46, restrained to death by G4S guards during a failed deportation attempt, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Gareth Myatt</a>, aged 15, restrained to death by G4S guards in a child prison. (<em>Warning</em>: these links go to distressing material including violently offensive racist language).</p><p>I was concerned that the police statement and the BBC report had failed even to mention the restraint on Rashan.</p><h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">A reporter's assumption, some questions and answers</span></h2> <p>In my report I described the second man, the tall athletic man who gets himself astride Rashan and pins his legs down, as a “plain clothes officer”. I’d made an assumption. Wrong, apparently.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimage1stvid.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="&#039;Member of public&#039; assists police officer in restraining Rashan Charles (still image from first video)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimage1stvid.jpg" alt="" title="&#039;Member of public&#039; assists police officer in restraining Rashan Charles (still image from first video)" width="460" height="417" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Member of public' assists police officer in restraining Rashan Charles (still image from first video)</span></span></span></p> <p>According to an IPCC update on 25 July: “The officer restrained Mr Charles, with assistance from a member of the public.” On 28 July, the IPCC <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/independent-investigation-death-rashan-charles-%E2%80%93-actions-so-far">again reported</a>: “A member of the public visible on CCTV and involved in Rashan’s restraint is not connected to the police.”</p> <p>On the morning of Friday 4 August I emailed some questions to the IPCC. Later that day, a press officer emailed back.</p> <p>Here are my questions, with the IPCC’s answers in <strong><em>bold italics</em></strong>. The first questions concern the “member of the public”. The last question concerns how the officer might have known that Rashan had put something into his mouth.</p> <i>SAMBROOK: Regarding IPCC statement “A member of the public visible on CCTV and involved in Rashan’s restraint is not connected to the police.”&nbsp;Please would you advise:&nbsp;Did that person act in response to request from the police?</i><p><i><strong>IPCC: This will form part of our investigation.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Has he been interviewed under caution and / or charged in relation to the incident?</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC: No —&nbsp;he has been interviewed though and a witness statement taken.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Can you state his occupation?</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC: No.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Regarding: “not connected to the police”, can you confirm that he has no connection with police or other security services?</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC: Not police or security services.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Regarding video released showing Rashan Charles entering the shop and putting something into his mouth (video&nbsp;<a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/cctv-footage-shows-rashan-charles-swallow-object-while-being-chased-by-police-a3594521.html">here</a>):&nbsp;Question:&nbsp;Am I correct that the camera is in front of Rashan Charles and the police officer is behind him?&nbsp;</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC:&nbsp;I’m afraid my decrepit IT doesn’t let me play that video but Rashan is afro-caribbean and wearing a dark jacket. Stills from that video are further down in the article.</strong></i></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/IPCC_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/IPCC_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="278" height="99" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><h2><em>Look over there!</em></h2> <p>The first official line from the Metropolitan Police, the IPCC and the BBC, the assertion that Rashan had swallowed an object, and the police officer was trying to prevent him from harming himself, the official line that excluded any mention of the restraint, <em>that matters</em>. </p> <p>The police and their “independent”&nbsp;watchdog, aided by the BBC, launched a convenient narrative early, directing the media and public curiosity towards the swallowed object, inviting speculation about what it might be, what it might reveal about Rashan, his intentions and his character:&nbsp;<em>Look over there!</em></p> <p>They suppressed, by omission, an inconvenient narrative, for which there was video evidence, the story of the restraint, the story of what was done to Rashan, the police actions leading up to his death.</p> <p>On Wednesday 2 August, <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/update-following-meeting-family-rashan-charles-0">the IPCC stated</a> that it had received the results of: “forensic analysis of an object that was removed from Rashan’s airway by paramedics”. </p> <p>And: “The object did not contain a controlled substance.”</p> <p>On Thursday 3 August, the IPCC released <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/commissioner-update-regarding-death-rashan-charles">another statement</a>, this time from the Commissioner overseeing the Rashan Charles investigation, <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/about/who-we-are/our-team/cindy-butts">Cindy Butts</a>. She said: “We did not provide further details, because the contents of the package are not directly relevant to our&nbsp;investigation&nbsp;– we are looking into the circumstances of Rashan’s death, not investigating Rashan. However, given the inflammatory nature of some ongoing speculation I will confirm that the package consisted of a mixture of paracetamol and caffeine wrapped in plastic.”&nbsp;</p> <h2>The conduct of those involved in the incident</h2> <p>Rashan’s family also <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/media/pr/rashan-charles-statement">issued a statement</a> that day. They noted their concern about the IPCC’s “openness and transparency” which was “regrettable at this stage”. </p> <p>About the package and the results of forensic analysis, the Charles family said: “While this is important, we wish to make it clear that the content of the package must not detract from our primary concern, which is to investigate the conduct of those involved in the incident that led to Rashan’s death.”</p><p>The Charles family statement was published by INQUEST,&nbsp;the charity that supports people bereaved by state-related deaths. (The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Carolynn Gallwey and Chanel Dolcy of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.)&nbsp;</p><p>Beneath the family statement, INQUEST noted:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">We are aware of the following deaths after police contact in June/July 2017:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Wednesday 21 June - Edir Frederico Da Costa, 25, black male, died in Newham, East London following restraint by police after stop and search six days earlier.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Wednesday 19 July - Darren Cumberbatch, 32, black male, died in Nuneaton, Warwickshire following restraint by police.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Saturday 15 July - Shane Bryant, 29, black male, died in Leicestershire following restraint by members of public and police two days earlier.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Saturday 22 July - Rashan J Charles, 20, black male, died in Hackney, East London following restraint by police after stop and search.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Updates on investigations into these deaths from the IPCC can be found&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news">here</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kojo-kyerewaa/14-year-old-black-boy-on-his-way-home-from-youth-choir">A 14 year old black boy on his way home from youth choir. . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashan-charles-rashman">Rashman: Police watchdog to investigate lethal restraint of young black man in Hackney</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kojo-kyerewaa/fuck-police-working-class-youth-and-routine-abuse-of-power">&#039;Fuck the police!&#039; Working-class youth and the routine abuse of power</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jon-burnett/twenty-years-after-racist-murder-of-stephen-lawrence-what-has-changed">Twenty years after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, what has changed?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/harmit-athwal/since-stephen-lawrences-racist-murder-how-many-more-ninety-six">Since Stephen Lawrence&#039;s racist murder, how many more? Ninety-six</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Wed, 09 Aug 2017 07:25:10 +0000 Clare Sambrook 112756 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK outsourcing experiment: playing with vulnerable lives https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/uk-outsourcing-alan-white-serco-G4S <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of Alan White’s&nbsp;<em>Who Really Runs Britain?</em>&nbsp;—&nbsp;the private companies taking control of benefits, prisons, asylum, deportation, security, social care and the NHS.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460_0.JPG" alt="" title="A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p><span>By any measure, the allegations of abuse by women imprisoned in Yarl’s Wood detention centre should be a public scandal, but despite a stream of reports prompting the Chief Inspector of Prisons to brand the centre </span><a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/yarl-s-wood-detention-centre-becomes-a-national-concern">“a place of national concern”</a><span>, sustained campaigns and protests, there has not yet been a collective public outcry.</span></p> <p>Research into the plight of women at the centre is hampered by a lack of access to official information. In June 2016, the Independent <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/home-office-refusing-to-reveal-whether-women-in-yarls-wood-have-been-raped-to-protect-the-commercial-a7077736.html">reported</a> that a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office asking for further information about sexual violence against detainees was denied on the grounds that “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests” of the company running it, Serco. </p> <p>The lack of transparency by both the government and Serco, and the obstacle this presents to those seeking accountability for crimes against the women held there, are twin themes at the heart of Alan White’s book on Britain’s outsourcing industry, Who Really Runs Britain?. </p> <p>Yarl’s Wood is just one of many case studies detailed in the book which illustrate both the vast scale of the outsourcing project and the devastating human cost when things go wrong and the lines of accountability are muddied. White examines key areas of the state where services are outsourced, including the NHS, Ministry of Justice, asylum services, social care, disabilities and unemployment — all arms of the state with which some of the most vulnerable people in society interact.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/animals_blurred--(None)_LRG_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl&#039;s Wood, March 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/animals_blurred--(None)_LRG_1.jpg" alt="" title="Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl&#039;s Wood, March 2015" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl's Wood, March 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>The book opens with a memorable case study and one of the few outsourcing stories to permeate the national consciousness, the mismanagement of the security project for the 2012 London Olympics by G4S, which resulted in the army standing in at the last minute. It’s one of the few stories that made a national impact, as the country and the world were focused on London in 2012. However, White notes that “while the implications of the scandal seemed severe for G4S at the time, they actually made little impression on it or the industry”. </p> <p>White goes on to reveal an industry enjoys lack of competition and oversight, meaning that companies like G4S will have multiple contracts and be constantly bidding for more, despite sometimes high-profile failures. </p> <p>Counter intuitively, some contracts are not particularly profitable for the companies involved. However, they are low-risk, as the state provides a safety net in the event of failure, and there are guaranteed inflows of cash.</p> <p>White returns repeatedly to the human cost of failure. As a society, we have to ask ourselves, what is an acceptable level of risk when lives are on the line? </p> <p>The major incentive for the state is supposed to be savings, but interestingly, sometimes outsourcing costs more.</p> <p>White underscores repeatedly that finding data on the details, merits and outcomes of the outsourcing projects is difficult, partly due to the confidential nature of some of the contracts but also because there is no one place that all the information is systematically retained. This is exacerbated by the fact that corresponding figures for comparison don’t really exist for the period when the state ran the services. In essence the British outsourcing project is an experiment with no systematic method of evaluation.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">In essence the British outsourcing project is an experiment with no systematic method of evaluation.</p> <p>The sheer scale of the outsourcing project is facilitated by settled political ideology on its merits. </p><p>Labour firmly adopted the Tory idea of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) while in power. White notes that in the political context of New Labour’s compromise between social democracy and neoliberalism, “outsourcing was considered a natural development in a corporate-led world”. The pace has increased markedly since the coalition government in 2010. Although outsourcing itself is not an ideology, White notes that it is borne of one, and this consensus hampers cross-party criticism and oversight.</p> <p>Despite the challenges in scoping the industry, White is at pains to point out that rather than a sinister plot, very often the problem is miscommunication or lack of communication between government departments. This book is not a polemic but a forensic and even-handed inquiry. </p> <p>It becomes clear that four companies dominate the sector: G4S, Atos, Serco and Capita. The biggest spenders are the Department of Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice, funnelling hundreds of millions of pounds to these firms, which are too big to fail. They cover everything from security, transport or waste collection to “human services” such as welfare, prisons and probation services to transport, waste collection. </p> <p>White’s book was first published last year with the title Shadow State, Inside the Secret Companies that Run Britain. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Who_Really_Runs_Britain_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Who_Really_Runs_Britain_460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="369" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>This new edition carries an afterword given over to voices from these companies, who, perhaps understandably, are often reluctant to engage with a critical media. Nevertheless, there is an acknowledgment from some in the industry of the “accountability vacuum” that White so eloquently unpacks in this book —&nbsp;and which is apparent in the case of asylum seekers housed in a “fire trap” G4S-run hostel in Halifax, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-fire-trap-hostel-halifax-asylum-housing-grenfell">recently exposed on Shine A Light</a>. Multiple actors including a private landlord, G4S, the Home Office and Calderdale Council all have some responsibilities towards the tenants in the hostel. Activist John Grayson found that “one dangerous consequence of the privatisation of asylum housing, apparent in this case, is the fog around who is responsible for what”.</p> <p>Companies like G4S are quick to point out that when things go wrong, they are often gagged from talking publicly about their contracts by the government on grounds of “commercial confidentiality”, while also being blamed for failures — adding to the confusion around accountability. They are also not allowed to trumpet their successes. </p> <p>There are quite a few points of agreement between White and the outsourcers who have spoken to him both on and off the record: “they want many of the same things campaigners do: more transparency, more innovation, a more competitive market.” </p> <p>But when it comes to figuring out why that hasn’t happened yet, we find ourselves in yet another fog of confusion with contractors and the government pointing fingers at each other. </p> <p>Another point of agreement is that White does not believe outsourcing is inherently wrong, but he does suggest that it can be done better, perhaps by social enterprises, which have different aims and focus to large for-profit companies. Currently, small providers are squeezed out of the broken market. White points to places where outsourcing has worked, using local knowledge, smaller scale and an emphasis on putting the humanity back into human services.&nbsp; </p> <p>A physicist friend of mine once asked incredulously, how the company running the physics laboratory where he worked could be expert at this and also in everything from leisure services to traffic lights and still maintain standards? </p> <p>White points to larger questions: is the for-profit incentive for private companies compatible with improving lives — a qualitative measure which does not sit in the neat margins of a profit/loss worksheet? Following lengthy interviews with advocates of outsourcing, he concludes: “Outsourcers will tell you how they can save money. But few can promise to make things better.” </p> <p>Although the chief executive of Serco makes an impassioned argument that for-profit companies can still work for the public good, &nbsp;a multitude of cases in the book illustrate that standards can fall in pursuit of profit, prompting White to explore whether the profit incentive encourages the contractor to do a good job or encourages them to game the system. For example, how does the need for repeat business square with targets of reducing reoffending rates in the prison system?</p> <p>And surely, this should be the point. How should we, as a society, be caring for those among us who are most in need of it and maintain their human dignity? </p> <p>There are clearly problems in the way that some projects are administered in that they do not take account of the complex needs of disabled or vulnerable people. White points out time and again that the human toll of failure is visited on groups that the public is least likely to care about, like asylum seekers, who are often out of sight and out of mind. </p> <p>But, given that profits are not currently ploughed back into the services (or necessarily staying in the UK), this concerns all of us a matter of social value and the potential effect on society’s social fabric.</p> <p>The outsourcing of public services without effective means of evaluation and rigorous oversight and accountability mechanisms is an experiment with very high stakes indeed.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Who Really Runs Britain?&nbsp;The private companies taking control of benefits, prisons, asylum, deportation, security, social care and the NHS</em>, by Alan White, is published by Oneworld on 6 July.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/harmit-athwal/neglect-and-indifference-kill-american-man-in-uk-immigration-detention">Neglect and indifference kill American man in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sarah-uncles/fit-to-run-prison-g4s-dodges-difficult-questions">Fit to run a prison? G4S dodges difficult questions</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/we-all-bring-something-to-table-young-migrants-in-uk">&#039;We all bring something to the table&#039; Young migrants in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sian-evans/fighting-to-win-asylum-from-rape-case-of-erioth-mwesigwa">Fighting to win asylum from rape: the case of Erioth Mwesigwa </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is">British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/stuart-crosthwaite/marked-out-for-attack-living-in-uk-asylum-market">Marked out for attack: living in the UK &#039;asylum market&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/antony-loewenstein/disaster-capitalism-and-outsourcing-of-violence-in-uk">Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/dying-detainee-84-taken-to-hospital-handcuffed-to-chain-dvorzak-">Dying detainee, 84, taken to hospital, handcuffed to a chain. Dvorzak inquest. Day 5</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Kiri Kankhwende Sun, 09 Jul 2017 23:08:00 +0000 Kiri Kankhwende 112090 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Security company G4S housed six families with babies and toddlers in a fire-trap hostel in Halifax.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Looking out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460.JPG" alt="" title="Looking out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>“The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there,” neighbours warned. “It’s because we are black, they don’t care,” one tenant said. They’re talking about a hostel that is home to six families and their nine children, most of them babies and toddlers.</p> <p>Tenants of the six flats in a converted house in Halifax, West Yorkshire, have told me they are frightened. They say the wiring is faulty, the hallways are blocked, and there’s repeated leaks and flooding. They’ve shown me the evidence. They worry about risk of fire, and how they might escape.</p> <p>I first learned about the hostel a little over two weeks ago, on Friday 9 June. A charity worker who supports one of the tenants asked for my help. She said tenants had struggled to get anybody to act on their concerns about fire safety and repairs. </p> <p>Some feared speaking out, worried that this might affect their claims for asylum. All of the tenants are asylum seekers.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_Street_view_hostel.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_Street_view_hostel.JPG" alt="" title="The G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>The worker told me: “At 8.15pm on Tuesday 6 June I went to the flats. I noticed there was no indicator light on the alarm control panel. I contacted the regional manager for G4S, who called a repair man. He arrived just before 9pm, and began installing smoke alarms in the hallways. I am really worried about how safe people are in there.”</p><h2>A visit to the hostel</h2><p><span><span>I visited the hostel on Saturday 10 June and spent four hours inspecting, taking photographs, listening to tenants’ concerns.</span></span></p><p><span>The hostel is part of a converted townhouse, just off Halifax town centre, in the borough of Calderdale. The flats sit atop an electrical shop and another shop, apparently abandoned.</span></p><p>Directly above the shops are two flats. Another floor up, three more flats. Up another flight of stairs, at the top of the house is Flat 6, with more stairs leading up to a mezzanine within the flat.</p> <p>The hostel is owned by a private landlord and managed under a UK government contract by G4S, the international security company. A subcontractor procured the property. The client is the Home Office. Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services also have responsibilities towards tenants.</p> <p>One dangerous consequence of the privatisation of asylum housing, apparent in this case, is the fog around who is responsible for what.</p> <p>Here’s what some tenants told me. For their protection we’re calling them Mary, Brian, Eric, Helen, Tasmin, Joanne.</p><h2>Water rushes through the ceiling</h2> <p>“One day in January the electric main board was flashing ‘fire in room 3’ and we dialled 999,” Mary said. “The fire engine could not find the address. I was jumping up and down in the street waving my arms to get them to the flats. It took them forty-five minutes to get here from our call. They said that a leak from a boiler in the flat above had caused the alarm.”&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.water_thru_electrics.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Water rushes through light fittings"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.water_thru_electrics.JPG" alt="" title="Water rushes through light fittings" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Water rushes through light fittings (screenshot from tenant's video)</span></span></span></p><p>Brian worked as a builder in his home country. He worries about the risk of electrical fire.&nbsp;</p><p><span>“Water pours in everywhere,” he said. “This happened last week.” He showed me a video on his camera. I could see water rushing through the light fittings.</span></p><p>Joanne pointed to exposed wires hanging from the ceiling on one of the landings. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/C.water-leak-electrics.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Evidence of water penetration and ceiling repairs"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/C.water-leak-electrics.JPG" alt="" title="Evidence of water penetration and ceiling repairs" width="240" height="174" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Evidence of water ingress, ceiling repairs</span></span></span></p><p>“Perhaps the wires are not live there,” Joanne said. “But they frighten the older children who hear us talking about the water and the electrics causing fires.”&nbsp;<span>Signs of water penetration and ceiling repairs were all around.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.G4S_hob.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="This hob replaced the cooker that fused the hostel&#039;s electrical circuits (John Grayson) "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.G4S_hob.JPG" alt="lead " title="This hob replaced the cooker that fused the hostel&#039;s electrical circuits (John Grayson) " width="240" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Replacement hob </span></span></span></p><p><span>Eric said his G4S cooker had fused the electrical circuits throughout the building. He showed me the replacement two-ring hob that G4S had supplied for himself, his wife and their baby.</span></p><p>Joanne took me to the only external door at the rear of the hostel. Because so many families with young children live here, the hallway is full of buggies. </p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.Shoddy_work_behind_cooker.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.Shoddy_work_behind_cooker.JPG" alt="" title="Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker" width="240" height="189" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker</span></span></span>“This is our only escape, we have to leave the buggies here, the stairs are so difficult, there is no fire escape,” Joanne said.&nbsp;</p><p>A neighbour who knows the flats had told her: “The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there.”</p><p><span>All the tenants said that over eight months, time and time again, they had contacted the G4S helpline pleading for better and safe conditions for their children.</span></p><p><span>Mary said: “They never do anything, even for the big things, heating and flooding. They don’t care. It’s because we are black, they don’t care.”</span></p> <p>She told me about when the downstairs corridor flooded: “There was water full of oil and waste from the drain outside.” She showed me video on her phone. The water was ankle deep.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.flood_best.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The flood water was ankle deep"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.flood_best.jpg" alt="" title="The flood water was ankle deep" width="460" height="490" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The flood water was ankle deep (screenshot from tenant video)</span></span></span></p><p>Tasmin pointed to wet plaster in a corner of the kitchen units in her flat. </p> <p>“Always water comes in,” she said. On her phone were pictures of the debris left when the wall unit crashed down, she said, narrowly missing her six-year-old daughter.</p><p><span>Tenants told me about other worries.</span></p> <p>“Early one morning I heard noises in my living room which woke me and I found a man from G4S there,” one lone mother said. </p><p><span>“He said he had used his own key to get in. My daughter was terrified, she has bad memories of men hurting me in the past. For months the door on my toilet and bathroom would not shut. G4S never did anything. I could have been in the toilet or showering when that man came in.”</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/E.buggies_hall.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Buggies crowd the escape route"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/E.buggies_hall.JPG" alt="" title="Buggies crowd the escape route" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Buggies crowd the escape route (John Grayson)</span></span></span></span></p> <p>She went on: “The local women’s centre suggested to G4S that I get a chain on my door. They refused, but the women’s centre threatened to get the work done themselves, and G4S put a chain on the door, and one on the door of another woman here — but still refused to fit chains on the other four flats.”</p><p>One of the support workers told me: “Three months ago, in March, St Augustine’s community centre sent complaints about the hostel to G4S, but nothing was done about them.” </p> <p>Another tenant recalled a visit from the Home Office: “G4S took them only to the flats where they knew the tenants could not speak good English and were frightened to complain. When I asked why they did not come to my flat, they said the Home Office did not have time.”&nbsp;</p><h2>If you won’t listen to the tenants. . . </h2> <p>G4S knows me and my work. I’m a housing academic. I work alongside refugees at South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk">SYMAAG</a>. </p> <p>Since G4S won the Home Office asylum housing contract five years ago I’ve <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">published quite a lot about them</a>. </p> <p>On Monday 12 June I contacted G4S and Calderdale Borough councillors and told them that the hostel was unsafe.</p> <p>My intervention prompted an emergency inspection by council officers and West Yorkshire fire service on the Tuesday. On the Wednesday, a G4S welfare officer called in. One tenant suggested an emergency fire drill: “We have never had one, and it would show we cannot get out of the building safely.” </p> <p>The G4S welfare officer allegedly refused, saying: “That’s up to G4S, not me.”&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/H.REAR_VIEW_LITTLE_BOY.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hostel rear view, little boy just visible at top window (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/H.REAR_VIEW_LITTLE_BOY.JPG" alt="" title="Hostel rear view, little boy just visible at top window (John Grayson)" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hostel rear view (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Heidi Wilson is Calderdale Council’s head of environment and housing services. After the inspections she told me that the council took reports of risks to tenants “very seriously” and was “giving them a high priority”. They had given G4S a list of actions and a “short time frame”. Should G4S fail to make the necessary improvements the council “would certainly consider enforcement action”.&nbsp;</p><h2>A dangerous place for babies</h2><p>When I called in to check on progress on Thursday 15 June, I found G4S workers making repairs that had been first reported months ago. I was told that the Home Office was going to send someone to inspect the place.</p><p>I climbed all the way up to the top of the house to see Helen. She lives up there with husband Brian and their three year old son. Another stairway led to the small mezzanine where their son had had access to a floor-level window. On Tuesday&nbsp;<span>the council had noted the “poor guarding to the window”. So&nbsp;</span><span>G4S workmen had boarded up the stairway.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/J_BRAND_NEW_NOTICEBOARD15_June_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/J_BRAND_NEW_NOTICEBOARD15_June_0.jpg" alt="" title="Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Helen told me: “The G4S boss when he came up here yesterday said: ‘This is a dangerous place for babies.’”</p><p>As I left the property I saw the G4S supervisor putting up a noticeboard by the front entrance, near the alarm control panel. He had pinned up no-smoking signs, a&nbsp;<span>warning about the absence of fire extinguishers,&nbsp;</span><span>a fire safety log book and a floor plan. Someone had taken a fat red marker pen and marked out a rough escape route on the plan.&nbsp;</span></p><p>All the information was in English. Most tenants are still learning the language.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.ESCAPE_PLAN_15_June.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.ESCAPE_PLAN_15_June.jpg" alt="" title="At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)" width="460" height="411" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>I set about researching fire safety, emailing and phoning the tenants and G4S with more questions.</p> <p>It wasn’t easy. Fire safety regulations are fiendishly complex. G4S’s own spokesman confessed to having difficulty. </p> <p>G4S appeared to be in breach of fire regulations. </p> <p>Before the hostel opened last year, it seems, they should have arranged for a fire risk assessment by a qualified fire safety practitioner — as required by the <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/contents/made">Fire Safety Order 2005.</a></p><p>From what I could see, G4S had an obligation to test the alarm every week and hold a monthly fire drill. Tenants told me these things hadn’t happened.</p><div><p class="mag-quote-left">Tenant: It’s because we are black, they don’t care.</p><p>The regulations require that testing dates are recorded in a log book displayed in the building. The log book on the newly erected notice board contained just one entry —&nbsp;for a test dated April 2017.</p> <p>All escape corridors and landings should have smoke alarms and emergency lighting. But the hallway smoke alarms were fitted on Tuesday 6 June 2017, eight months after the hostel opened. </p> <p>Every kitchen should have a fire blanket. And they do. I asked one tenant, who is fluent in English, to open the packaging. She said: “The instructions are confusing. No one has ever told us about fire safety here. There are no instructions on the fire blanket or anywhere else in any language — except difficult English.”</p> <p>My reading of the regulations suggests that G4S has a responsibility to inform and regularly update tenants on fire safety — and to provide safety information in appropriate languages.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Neighbour: The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there.</p><p>All of these things seem anyway like basic common sense if you are housing multiple families with small children in a four or five storey house.</p> <p>As landlords of asylum housing for babies and small children, G4S has particular obligations. </p> <p>The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (<a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/11/section/55">Section 55)</a> requires that immigration and asylum functions be carried out with respect for the need to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children”.</p> <p>After the Calderdale council inspection on Tuesday 13 June, one tenant told me: “The council man said the bedroom with my children should not be used. He said the window was too small to let light in for them.” &nbsp;</p> <p>I asked G4S to respond to the issues raised in this article. On 15 June a G4S spokesman said the building had a valid electrical certificate and was “compliant with fire safety standards”. </p> <p>About the flooding, G4S said: “There has been a very recent issue with damp after the landlord installed a new concrete walkway outside the property which is not draining effectively.&nbsp;We are in discussions to have a drain fitted. A roof leak has also recently been rectified and the landlord will be making good any cosmetic damage that arose.”&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/K.G4Slogo2JUNE2006.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/K.G4Slogo2JUNE2006.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>And the intrusion? G4S said: “Our protocol is that when our staff visit a property they knock twice (leaving a gap in between).&nbsp;If there is no answer they unlock the door and call out to announce themselves.&nbsp;If there is still no answer they then proceed into the property, calling out that they are from G4S. We are entirely confident that this procedure is — and was — followed at this property.”</p> <p>At the company’s request —&nbsp;(the spokesman sounded quite flustered) — we delayed publication of this piece to give G4S time to provide further comment.</p><p>On Tuesday 20 June, I tuned in to BBC Radio Sheffield, for&nbsp;<span>Toby Foster</span><span>’s</span>&nbsp;breakfast show. He had an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p056f4dx">interview with John Whitwam</a>, the ex-army officer who is G4S managing director, immigration and borders. Whitwam told listeners that G4S had about 18,000 asylum-seekers in 5,000 properties. “There is a great deal of scrutiny,” he said. “These properties are probably the most inspected in the UK.”</p></div><p><span>Whitwam said the G4S helpline took 4,000 calls last month. Toby Foster cut in: “5,000 houses, 4,000 calls! Nearly every house is ringing you every month!”</span></p> <p>Whitwam replied: “These aren’t <em>all</em> complaints.” And then: “That’s not to say many of them aren’t.”</p> <p>I was still waiting for the company’s response to my queries on Tuesday evening, when a tenant called to say that an extractor fan had fallen off the wall in Flat 2. She said she was only slightly injured, but her four year old child was hysterical.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/L.John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/L.John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" alt="" title="John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>On Tuesday evening, Brian was back in touch. He said the G4S welfare officer had been round to tell them: “The Home Office are coming tomorrow, you have to say everything is fine in the flats.”</p> <p>On Wednesday afternoon Brian called again. He said the woman from the Home Office had been round, she’d done more talking than listening and assured them that if there’s a fire, they’ll have plenty of time to get out.</p><p>On Thursday another tenant called to say that workmen were, at last, fitting smoke alarms in tenants’ rooms.&nbsp;</p> <h2>A curious response from G4S</h2> <p>Also on Wednesday came the company’s detailed response to my queries.</p> <p>It was odd.</p> <p>G4S offered a series of curious assertions that neither confirmed nor denied tenants’ allegations about fire safety, but, rather, bypassed their concerns.</p> <p>For example, G4S noted: “Smoke alarm and fire alarm tests as recorded in our monthly property inspection report.”</p> <p>On the absence of fire drills, G4S claimed: “Drills are not mandatory for private dwellings.”</p> <p><em>Private</em> dwellings? </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">G4S: These properties are probably the most inspected in the UK.</p><p>And: “All fire safety information is provided as part of the induction when asylum seekers move into the property and information in 71 languages is available in the home.”</p> <p>Seventy-one languages!</p> <p>About the absence of fire log books, G4S claimed: they “are sometimes taken away and used as notebooks by residents.”</p> <p>And the apparent failure to arrange a fire risk assessment on the building until after I got involved? G4S claimed: “All fire alarm systems are checked monthly.” </p> <p>About the Fire Service inspection of 13 June, prompted by my interventions, G4S claimed: “All adjustments recommended have now been completed. Any observations made by the fire services regarding door fittings or openings were rectified within two days.”</p> <p>About the alarm control panel that had either been turned off or was defective, G4S said: “We require service users to report defects to control panels and we operate a 24 hours turn around policy to fix or replace such systems.” </p> <p>G4S has claimed repeatedly that it <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8e793754-d6dd-3531-b8b9-c00de20fb4a9?mhq5j=e3">loses money on asylum housing.</a> The company, which had no prior experience of housing asylum seekers, won the Home Office contract after a computer-based reverse auction. G4S bid £8.42 per family member per night (according to contract details revealed in a High Court judgement <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2017/200.html">here</a>). At that price, packing 17 people into the Halifax hostel brings the monthly take to around £4,300.</p> <h2>Who’re you gonna call?</h2> <p>Until last Thursday, Calderdale <a href="https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/equality-and-diversity/asylum-seekers-and-refugees">Council’s website told asylum-seekers</a> in the borough that their housing was provided, not by G4S, but by another company, Cascade Homes. The council supplied a phone number tenants could call if they needed help and advice.</p> <p>I called the number. An angry man picked up. He said he was fed up with getting calls and he had nothing to do with Cascade.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/N.calderdalewebsite.20JUNE2017_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Calderdale Council&#039;s misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/N.calderdalewebsite.20JUNE2017_1.jpg" alt="" title="Calderdale Council&#039;s misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)" width="460" height="382" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Calderdale Council's misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)</span></span></span></p><p>I told the council about that —&nbsp;they corrected the online advice. They said Cascade no longer managed properties in Calderdale, only procured them. G4S confirmed: “Yes, all properties in the Halifax area are provided by Cascade.”</p><p>I was sorry that Cascade had been given any role to play. </p> <p>Over years I’ve reported on their shoddy behaviour. How Cascade asylum properties in Leeds were <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">infested with cockroaches and slugs</a>.&nbsp;<span>Male staff </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/their-secret-is-out-but-for-g4s-and-friends-%E2%80%98abject-disregard-for-human-dign">harassed women tenants</a><span>.&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/g4s-forced-to-step-in-over-sub-contractors-performance/7001552.article">Cascade failed to pay energy bills and council tax bills</a><span>. </span></p><p><span>My evidence has been&nbsp;</span><span>cited in Parliamentary inquiries and debates. Speaking in the Commons on 27 February 2013, </span><a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-93.htm">Mark Durkan MP said</a><span>: “What is especially alarming is that the neglect and suffering go on, regardless of this kind of public and Parliamentary exposure. There has been little impact on the everyday practice of G4S and their subcontractors.”&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>In February 2014 G4S announced that they&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/g4s-forced-to-step-in-over-sub-contractors-performance/7001552.article">had dropped Cascade.</a></p> <h2>‘<span>I watched that place burn</span><span>’</span></h2> <p>While we were working on this piece, on Wednesday 14 June 2017, fire gutted a tower block in West London with appalling loss of life. </p> <p>The block was called Grenfell Tower. </p> <p>The residents were mostly people of colour, and poor. The first victim to be named was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-first-victim-named-mohammed-alhajali-syrian-refugee-a7791401.html">Mohammed Alhajali, a Syrian refugee</a>. </p> <p>Grenfell tenants had warned repeatedly that the flats were unsafe. Their warnings were variously dismissed, ignored, and met with legal threats. </p> <p>“White tenants said their concerns were ultimately ignored, but officials were more likely to listen to them,”&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/opinion/london-tower-grenfell-fire.html">British journalist Dawn Foster</a>&nbsp;<span>wrote</span><span>&nbsp;in the New York Times. “Black and South Asian survivors told me they felt the implicit message from everyone they contacted before the fire for help with the building was ‘you are a guest in this borough, and a guest in this country, you have no right to complain’.”</span></p> <p>Back in the Halifax hostel, the tenants have come from East Africa, West Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.&nbsp;<span>Up in the top flat, Brian told me how Grenfell had shocked him: “I watched that place burn,” he said. “I thought I couldn’t get out of this flat if there is a fire.”</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a> at openDemocracy.</li><li>To follow John on Twitter: @SYMAAG</li><li>To follow Clare and Shine A Light:&nbsp;</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/welcome-to-my-asylum-home-i-d-offer-you-seat-if-i-had-one">Welcome to my asylum home. I’d offer you a seat — if I had one</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/gareth-mitchell/high-court-blasts-outrageous-assault-by-tascor-staff-on-tort">High Court blasts ‘outrageous’ assault by Tascor staff on torture survivor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/margaret-hodge/parliamentary-watchdog-too-often-private-sector-contractors-ethical-stand">Parliamentary watchdog: too often private sector contractors&#039; ethical standards found wanting</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/capita-guard-course-did-not-tell-me-what-to-do-if-someone-is-not-breathing">Capita guard: “The course did not tell me what to do if someone is not breathing”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Austerity Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:08:14 +0000 John Grayson 111844 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fit to run a prison? G4S dodges difficult questions https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/sarah-uncles/fit-to-run-prison-g4s-dodges-difficult-questions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At a locked down shareholders’ meeting, security company boss sidestepped hard questions, praised BBC exposé of abuse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>G4S boss Ashley Almanza said the BBC team who exposed abuse in a G4S child prison deserved to win their BAFTA Award. Almanza was speaking at the company’s annual meeting on 25 May at the Holiday Inn, in Sutton, Surrey.</p> <p>An undercover BBC reporter had <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">filmed shocking abuse of child prisoners</a> at G4S Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent.
 One boy, who had self-harmed, was subjected to unlawful violent restraint on the anniversary of his mother’s death.
 A burly G4S guard yelled in the face of another child, aged 14, grabbed him, pushed him onto a table, twisting his arms behind his back. The BBC Panorama film, broadcast in January 2016 <a href="http://www.bafta.org/media-centre/transcripts/winners-acceptance-speech-current-affairs">won the current affairs BAFTA</a> in June 2017.</p> <p>Almanza, G4S chief executive officer, commended the documentary, saying that Panorama had performed a “good public service” and “deserved” the BAFTA. He confirmed that G4S has withdrawn from two of the three youth service government contracts to date, following the Panorama revelations.</p> <p>Almanza’s comments came in response to a series of questions that <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com">Reclaim Justice Network</a> members put to G4S directors at the company’s annual general meeting. <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com">Reclaim Justice Network</a> campaigners advocate social justice, not criminal justice, and call for the immediate and complete withdrawal of G4S from all criminal justice services in the United Kingdom. </p> <p>The UK government continues to rely on ineffective practices of policing, surveillance and prison to address complex economic, social and political problems. The prison industrial complex describes the overlapping interests of government and private industry in the criminal justice sector. G4S profits from government contracts in care and justice services.</p> <p>G4S proudly claims to be “the world’s leading, global, integrated security company”. According to its <a href="http://www.annualreport.g4s.com/documents/G4S_2016IR_Final_PDF.pdf">2016 annual report</a>, the company boasts a massive £296 million profit before tax. The market dominance of G4S is perhaps surprising, given its long, tainted <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/23/g4s-prisons-contracts-hmp-birmingham">history of serious failings</a>. </p> <p>For the fourth consecutive year Reclaim Justice Network members attended the meeting, as shareholders, to challenge the board on the company’s record.</p> <h2>Extreme security</h2> <p>Airport-style security measures, intimidating and intrusive, have become routine at G4S annual meetings. All electronic devices, bags and accessories had to be removed and placed within a locker. Every shareholder was required to walk through a metal detector and then have their body scanned by a guard armed with an electromagnetic wand. </p> <p>Uniformed G4S guards, and other staff identifiable by their blue lanyards, lined the walls and were strategically placed amid the rows of shareholder seats. </p> <p>Once the meeting began it became clear that G4S personnel overwhelmingly outnumbered the independent shareholders in the room.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/g4s_logo_c_slogan-465.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/g4s_logo_c_slogan-465.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>John Connolly, G4S chairman, opened the meeting, drew attention to the “meeting procedures” and warned that anyone who disrupted the meeting would be asked to leave. “Safety is incredibly important and is our number one priority,” he said.</p> <p>Nine board members sat at the front table. What followed was a fine-tuned and polished performance of weaving evasiveness by chairman John Connolly and chief executive officer Ashley Almanza.</p> <h2>Remuneration</h2> <p>A question was posed concerning remuneration and awards to staff. Specifically, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/21/managers-g4s-medway-youth-jail-paid-bonuses-despite-failings">performance-related pay awards given to the senior managers at Medway</a> youth jail in April 2016 that amounted to between 10% and 25% of their annual salaries. </p> <p>A <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/01/Medway-Secure-Training-Centre-advice-note.pdf">report</a> by the Chief Inspector of Prisons concluded that “managerial oversight failed to protect young people” who suffered both physical and psychological abuse at the prison. </p> <p>Almanza, who took home <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/g4s-boss-takes-home-75-rise-after-scandal-hit-year-qrjlj0rwc">£4.8m in pay and perks last year</a>, said that those directly involved with the abuse had been removed from their positions and subjected to a police investigation. However, he avoided commenting on the bonuses received by the senior managers whose failed oversight arguably put young people at risk of harm. </p> <h2>Revolving doors</h2> <p>Another question concerned <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/05/20/prison-service-boss-hired-manage-troubled-g4s-detention-centres/">G4S’s new recruit Paul Kempster</a> — until recently a civil servant and “head of custodial contracts” <a href="https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/contacts/hmps/prison-finder/prison-map.pdf">for 12 UK prisons</a>. The questioner wanted to know the time lapse between Kempster’s government job and the start of his contract at G4S.</p> <p>Connolly and Almanza both hesitated to answer. They asked other members of staff and received confirmation that Kempster had “started fairly recently”. Connolly stepped in, saying: “I am sure that whatever is standard time lapse protocol has taken place.”</p> <p>This is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/26/g4s-youth-jails-a-story-of-revolving-doors-dangerous-restraints-and-death">not the first time that government employees have been snapped up by G4S</a>. The revolving door creates inevitable conflicts of interests in government decision making and increased interference of private companies in the public sector. </p> <p>John Connolly, by the way, was formerly senior partner and chief executive at the big accountancy firm Deloitte’s where he <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/supportservices/5973813/Deloitte-chief-John-Connolly-collects-5.2m-as-anger-grows-over-City-pay-deals.html">trousered a £5m annual pay package</a> just as the financial system came close to collapse.</p> <h2>Poor performance</h2> <p>Another questioner asked about <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/justice-update--2">faulty electronic monitoring equipment</a> administered by G4S, that may have led to unwarranted enforcement action.</p><p> Almanza said the faulty batches were removed and “the client”, meaning the Ministry of Justice, was satisfied with this response, although no investigation into the consequences of this error was undertaken. </p> <p>The shareholder then asked how many fines and penalties G4S has paid because of contractual failures, such as this. Almanza said he was “not at liberty to disclose”, there were confidentiality concerns, and he directed shareholders to “ask the client”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ASHLEY_ALMANZA_g4S_8MARCH2017_460.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ASHLEY_ALMANZA_g4S_8MARCH2017_460.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="256" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ashley Almanza discusses G4S financials on Bloomberg, March 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>The questioning then moved onto a riot in <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-38350970">Birmingham prison in December 2016</a>. Prisoners took over four wings for 12 hours, igniting fires and destroying prison records. The shareholder asked whether the board agreed that “G4S are not fit to run prisons”, given that it had overseen “the worst prison riot in 26 years”.</p> <p>Connolly intervened and instructed Almanza “not to answer”, claiming the comment was phrased as a statement, not a question. Almanza said that he didn’t agree with the shareholder’s statement and “neither do our clients”. The board refused to discuss the riot or elaborate further.</p> <h2>Prisoner safety </h2> <p>Concerns about safety in G4S prisons were raised by another shareholder who asked whether rates of self-harm and suicide had improved. </p> <p>Almanza took the question. He was quick to point out that self-harm has increased across UK prisons. He explained that in the last year there had been 344 non-natural deaths in prisons, including seven in prisons run by G4S.</p> <p>This raises concern. G4S are not specialists in mental health provision and prisons are not institutions fit for vulnerable individuals experiencing mental illness. Almanza, in his own words, described the “daunting, unsettling and isolating” environment of prison that can lead to self-harm. </p> <h2>Transparency? Accountability?</h2> <p>Concluding remarks were made by a shareholder who expressed disappointment with the lack of direct answers provided to the shareholders’ questions. </p> <p>Annual general meetings supposedly provide a forum for transparency and accountability. This meeting lacked both.</p> <p>At the start one shareholder had complained that the minutes of the 2016 G4S annual meeting were the “worst set of minutes” she had ever seen. They covered only formal business and failed to record serious concerns raised by shareholders. G4S’s legal officer asserted that the minutes complied with legal requirements.</p> <p>During the meeting, the board consistently failed to provide specific information that shareholders requested —&nbsp;from statistics on self-harm to details of financial penalties. For many of the issues raised the responsibility was passed to their clients, the Ministry of Justice.</p> <p>John Connolly did invite shareholders to put any specific questions in writing, guaranteeing that the board “will get back to you”.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-roberts/g4s-dont-blame-us-blame-prison-system">G4S: Don&#039;t blame us — blame the prison system</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/rebecca-roberts/more-mega-prisons-wont-fix-broken-society">More mega-prisons won&#039;t fix a broken society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Sarah Uncles Wed, 07 Jun 2017 23:08:30 +0000 Sarah Uncles 111503 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Behave or get deported, says G4S https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>EXCLUSIVE: The world’s biggest security company, landlord to asylum-seekers, threatens tenants with expulsion from the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4Slogo_720.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4Slogo_720.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>About 900 people who are seeking asylum live in the city of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire. For five years G4S, the world’s largest security company, has held the government contract to accommodate them whilst they await the outcome of their claims for asylum.</p> <p>A couple of weeks ago, visiting tenants in one of G4S’s asylum houses, I spotted a surprising document. Displayed prominently on the house notice board, and marked “Private and Confidential”, here it is:</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/TheNotice.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/TheNotice.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="533" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>It’s a letter from “G4S Immigration and Borders”. Dated 10 November 2016, it begins: “Dear UK Asylum Seeker RESPECT IN ASYLUM ACCOMMODATION”. </p> <p>G4S thanks “the majority of tenants” who respect G4S staff, and goes on: “There are, however, a few who do not respect the officers allocated to look after them.”</p> <p>The letter reports “a brutal and cowardly attack” by an asylum tenant on a G4S officer in Birmingham, which resulted in the officer being hospitalised and the asylum seeker being arrested and “forcibly deported back to his country of origin”.</p> <p>G4S then warns that tenants who “are abusive and aggressive will not be tolerated and will be reported to the Police and may be deported away from the UK”.</p> <p>And: “Unacceptable behaviour is always reported to the Police and Home Office and kept on their records while your application is being considered.”</p> <p>And: “Those who threaten or attack (with words or actions) may be detained and deported away from the UK.”</p> <p>G4S signs off with a list of rules, ending in: “You must not participate in illegal activity, including smoking indoors.”</p><p><span>So, here’s G4S telling vulnerable tenants that words alone, perhaps even a crafty smoke, could result in detention and deportation. </span></p><p><span>What is the legal basis for that?</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/no_smoking_G4S property.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/no_smoking_G4S property.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="533" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Notice in a G4S house in Sheffield, April 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span><br /></span></p> <p>I showed the letter to Frances Webber, the distinguished immigration barrister. Here’s what she said:</p> <p>“My response is to ask how far has outsourcing gone? Is a private corporation now mandated to make decisions on asylum and deportation?”</p> <p>Webber explained: “G4S, like any owner of accommodation, is entitled to tell residents that assaults on staff will be reported to police, and if the accommodation is run on behalf of the Home Office, that Home Office officials will also be notified. But a private company has no business issuing threats of deportation, let alone to people who are likely to be particularly vulnerable because of what they have witnesses and/ or experienced.”</p> <p>It’s not rocket science. If I assault a G4S officer I might have to go to prison, but that’s a decision for the independent judiciary and (i) should not affect my immigration status and (ii) should not be decided by G4S telling the Home Office to send me down and then deport me.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">My response is to ask how far has outsourcing gone? Is a private corporation now mandated to make decisions on asylum and deportation?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Publicly, G4S has strongly and repeatedly denied that it has any say over peoples claims for asylum. Here’s G4S boss John Whitwam speaking on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show:</p> <p>“I have no influence or interest in the application which the asylum seekers have, whether they are granted asylum or not is not anything to do with the providers such as G4S and Serco it is entirely a matter for the Home Office.” (His job title, by the way, is: managing director, immigration and borders.)</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Whitwam, managing director, immigration and borders, G4S</span></span></span></p> <p>Also on the programme was Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP who chairs the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee. In response to Whitwam’s assurances she said: “<em>I </em>know that, and you know that, but for a lot of <em>them</em>, <em>they</em> don’t know that and they’re fearful and that’s the problem.”</p> <p>This exchange starts about six minutes into the clip, and the date is Tuesday 31 January. That’s a couple of months <em>after</em> G4S authorised the printing, distribution and display of a frightening notice threatening tenants with deportation. </p> <p><span class="mag-quote-center">I have no influence or interest in the application which the asylum seekers have.</span></p><p><span>I asked G4S and the Home Office to respond on the issues raised in this article. The Home Office did not respond.</span></p> <p>G4S emailed a statement:&nbsp;<span>“Our teams have no influence on the course of an asylum seeker’s application and we recognise that the language used in this letter was emotive and imprecise. It came following a serious attack on one of our welfare officers that left them badly injured and fearful of returning to work.</span></p> <p>“We will ensure that our future communications are expressed more clearly because we have a responsibility to remind the small number of asylum seekers who are violent or abusive that their conduct will be referred to the Home Office and the police. This fulfils our duty of care to the safety of our colleagues and we also believe that it is what the public would expect.</p> <p>“On the specific point regarding legislation on verbal abuse, there are multiple sections within the Public Order Act around causing harassment, alarm or distress which could apply in those cases.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">We recognise that the language used in this letter was emotive and imprecise.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, was it just a matter of some “emotive and imprecise” language? </p> <p>Over the past five years, working alongside asylum tenants, I have heard many reports of G4S staff, now called ‘Welfare Officers’, threatening them with consequences for their claims for asylum, if they protested about conditions. G4S has a poor record in Sheffield both for the quality of accommodation and for its disrespectful behaviour towards tenants. </p> <p>In 2015 in one Sheffield G4S house, with eight young men in shared bedrooms, G4S had been inundated with complaints about the very poor conditions and the way tenants were forced to share bedrooms. G4S staff posted their own version of tenancy rules – the Golden Rules, stating they had no choice in sharing bedrooms, and no choice of roommate. When the young men took down the notice and told other people in Sheffield, they were summoned to a meeting with G4S staff and told any further protests would be reported to the Home Office and it would affect their asylum claims.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Golden_Rules_July_2015.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Golden_Rules_July_2015.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="533" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S Golden Rules posted in an asylum house, Sheffield, July 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>This past February, a tenant whose home had for months been infested with bedbugs told me: “Ten days ago, I was really desperate. The children, particularly my ten year old son, have flashbacks at night and the bedbugs make it even worse, none of us have slept well for months and months.” He showed me his own medical report. It featured “post-traumatic stress disorder… symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks and insomnia…suicidal thoughts”.</p> <p>He said: “G4S have done nothing about the bed bugs in either of the houses, and simply brought mouse trap boxes to keep down the numbers. So I was determined to keep ringing their Help Line every day until they came to clear up the bugs. On 14 February, I rang them and again demanded action. The operator shouted down the phone ‘If you call again and complain we will make sure that this will affect your asylum claim.’”&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/welcome-to-my-asylum-home-i-d-offer-you-seat-if-i-had-one">Welcome to my asylum home. I’d offer you a seat — if I had one</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/people-come-in-here-normal-but-they-get-ill-protesting-against-">‘People come in here normal, but they get ill.’ Protesting against deaths at a UK migrant jail</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/bed-bugs-and-freight-sheds-britain-s-welcome-to-asylum-seekers">Bed bugs and freight sheds: Britain’s welcome to asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:30:23 +0000 John Grayson 110268 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fail, fail, and have another government contract https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Security contractors G4S and Serco and housing company Clearsprings have for years supplied UK asylum seekers with shoddy housing. The contracts carry on regardless.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/under_kitchen_window.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/under_kitchen_window.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S asylum housing, Leicester (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>For five years now I’ve exposed the dangerous consequences of the UK’s ill-conceived, badly planned and poorly executed rush to privatise housing for asylum seekers. I’ve told of children exposed to health risks in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">rat-infested homes</a>, a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">cockroach in the baby's bottle</a>, lone women&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/their-secret-is-out-but-for-g4s-and-friends-%E2%80%98abject-disregard-for-human-dign">intimidated by their landlords</a>.</p> <p>This home is one of the worst. It’s a terraced house in the East Midlands of England, just off Leicester’s city centre. I call in one frosty morning in early January. Paul comes to the door. He is an asylum seeker from the Middle East who speaks fluent English.</p><h2><strong>Living with bed bugs</strong></h2><p>“The house is full of bedbugs, in David’s bedroom, another guy’s bedroom and all in here—.” Paul points to the settee in the lounge.</p> <p>The room is full of bedclothes and personal belongings. “G4S never clears away what they take from rooms when people leave,” says Paul. “We don’t like throwing the things away, people might come back.”</p> <p>Four men live here. David speaks to me in Arabic, Paul interpreting. “I have been here over a year and the bedbugs have got worse,” says David. “I had to throw my mattress in the yard and I sleep on the floor. I try and stop the bugs coming in through the floor boards by taping up the room.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/david_bedroom.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="David&#039;s bedroom"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/david_bedroom.JPG" alt="" title="David&#039;s bedroom" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>David's room (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>Outside David shows me piles of rubbish – infested mattresses, bedclothes, broken furniture. </p> <p>“Ring G4S all the time,” he says in broken English. “Never come.” </p> <p>Paul fetches some dead bugs he has saved. David shows me the bites on his arms and stomach.</p><p>I ask Paul how long he has been in the house. “Four months,” he says. Paul came to England in a refrigerated lorry— “It was very cold, four people on the lorry had to go to hospital.”</p><p>He claimed asylum: “They took me to detention centre, Campsfield. I was there two months, then Birmingham. One month in Kensington hotel.”&nbsp;</p><p>I had been to the Kensington, a rundown place G4S used alongside Birmingham initial accommodation centre, for people waiting to be housed.&nbsp;</p><p>Paul goes on: “Two months in Birmingham centre, then Stoke.”&nbsp;</p><p>I ask him about the Stoke house.&nbsp;</p><p>“Really bad,” he says.&nbsp;</p><p>After a further two months the Home Office claimed that Paul had been fingerprinted in Hungary on his journey and thus had to be deported back there. He was rearrested and sent back to Campsfield where he spent a further two months. Then in October 2016 he was moved again to the Leicester terraced house with the bed bugs.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bed_bugss.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bed_bugss.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bed bugs (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>David shows me his leg and a badly scarred knee.</p> <p>“I get this from torture in my own country,” he says. “I cannot walk very far but I have been given a bus pass.” </p> <p>The heating has failed many times and the radiator in Paul’s bedroom has broken away from the wall. His window doesn’t shut. </p> <p>“The walls were falling on me,” Paul said, pointing to cracked plasterwork he had repaired with tape.</p> <p>A G4S maintenance worker had inspected the house on 12 December and passed on an urgent text message to G4S, demanding remedy. One whole month later David told me nothing had happened. I went back to the house a few days ago. Friends had come to help get rid of the sofa and the lounge had been cleared, but not by G4S. The bed bugs were thriving. Paul showed me fresh bites on his arms.</p> <h2><strong>Victoria Derbyshire — a bad day for contractors</strong></h2> <p>Lately the lives of asylum seekers housed in the UK by commercial contractors got <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04rfnc2">rare prime time attention</a> on BBC television. The occasion was publication of a damning report from the Home Affairs Select Committee who’d found “vulnerable people in unsafe accommodation. . . children living with infestations of mice, rats or bed bugs, lack of health care for pregnant women. . . inadequate support for victims of rape and torture.” </p> <p>The MPs had urged a complete overhaul of the contracting system. </p> <p>Committee chair Yvette Cooper appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme alongside G4S executive John Whitwam.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Derbyshire31JAN2017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Derbyshire31JAN2017.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="335" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>The presenter asked the G4S man: “Would <em>you</em> live in a house infested by rats, mice and bed bugs?”</p> <p>“No, of course I wouldn’t,” Whitwam said. </p> <p>He claimed G4S inspections had found defects and addressed them: “The issue is not that things go wrong in a house —&nbsp;they go wrong in my house, they go wrong in every house,&nbsp;but the requirement we have to address them, which we do.”</p> <p>That was Tuesday 31 January. A bad day for the contractors, but not nearly as bad as it might have been. </p> <p>The MPs’ report had downplayed evidence of racism and intimidation. Evidence, <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/asylum-accommodation/written/37481.html">for example,</a> from the Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) who said that “derogatory and racist behaviour” was common among contract staff. Asylum seekers said staff behaviour “made them feel like ‘animals’ and that they were ‘subhuman’.” Others reported that they felt bullied.</p> <p>The BBC had planned to air testimony from activists and G4S tenants in Yorkshire asserting that tenants who complained had been moved against their will, had been threatened that complaints would damage their claims for asylum. </p> <p>My colleague, housing rights activist Violet Dickenson, had been invited to take part in the programme as a studio guest. She was looking forward to speaking out about the culture of intimidation.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Violetout_Sharonin.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Violetout_Sharonin.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="438" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Out goes activist witness Violet Dickenson. In comes corporate voice Sharon Holmes.</span></span></span></p> <p>But during the weekend before transmission <a href="https://theferret.scot/asylum-seeker-intimidation-g4s/">G4S had lobbied the BBC</a>, invitations were withdrawn, interviews pulled. The film clips of asylum seekers and activists (from the film, The Asylum Market, by <a href="http://www.brass-moustache.co.uk">Brass Moustache</a>, that you can see <a href="https://vimeo.com/201062637">in full here</a>) were binned. Instead of Violet Dickenson’s live testimony about intimidation, the programme ran a pre-recorded interview with Sharon Holmes, G4S head of business, who dismissed some of the evidence in the MPs’ report as “anecdotal”.</p> <h2>Missing the boat</h2> <p>As for the MPs’ call for a complete overhaul of the contracting system, it was weaker than it appeared. For that ship had already sailed.</p> <p>Since 2012 Home Office accommodation has been provided to asylum seekers by companies —&nbsp;G4S, Serco and Clearsprings — their subcontractors, and hundreds of small private landlords,&nbsp;through what’s known as COMPASS contracts (an acronym for Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services). The contracts, worth <a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-57.htm">a reported £1.7 billion</a> over five years, had been due to expire in 2017 —&nbsp;unless the government exercised its option for a two year extension.</p> <p>“Before the Home Secretary signs the next contract, the committee will have things to say,” the then committee chair Keith Vaz MP had <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-35848080">told BBC Scotland</a> back in March 2016. “So, we will conclude our inquiry in plenty of time for the Home Secretary to be able to reflect on it before she signs the new contracts.”</p> <p>That didn’t happen. Instead, the report’s publication was delayed. And delayed. </p> <p>By 8 December 2016, and still no sign of the report, the government quietly issued a <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Lords/2016-12-08/HLWS333/">written ministerial statement</a> confirming that the Home Office had extended the existing contracts, <em>and</em> that it was going to pay more —&nbsp;though not how much. “I have increased the amount of money that the Home Office pays for the provision of welfare officers and staff property management,” wrote immigration minister Robert Goodwill. </p> <p>As for five years’ compelling evidence of rats, cockroaches, racism and intimidation,<strong> </strong>Goodwill wrote mildly: “There has been considerable interest in the accommodation and support that is provided to asylum seekers,” and he had “listened carefully” to concerns.</p><h2><span style="font-weight: bold;">“Considerable interest”</span></h2> <p>What does “considerable interest” look like?</p> <p>It looks like this:</p> <p>Asylum seekers “are treated as luggage rather than people who deserve some dignity and respect. Government must get to grips with that with housing contractors.” </p> <p>That was Sarah Teather MP in the foreword to her <a href="http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/asylum_support_inquiry_report_final.pdf">Parliamentary inquiry report</a> in January 2013: “Racial abuse and victimisation at the hands of members of the public were striking enough, but more shocking for us were the examples of abject disregard for basic human dignity demonstrated by housing providers.” </p> <p>A <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/asylum/">Home Affairs committee report</a> later that year noted: “We were very concerned by the description of the substandard level of housing provided to asylum seekers.”</p> <p>In January 2014 the <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/10287-001-accommodation-for-asylum-seekers-Book.pdf">National Audit Office reported</a>: “Both G4S and Serco took on housing stock without inspecting it . . . many of the properties they had taken on did not meet the contractual quality standards.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div width="100%"><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" width="100%" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/201062637"></iframe></div><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://vimeo.com/201062637">The Asylum Market</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/brassmoustache">Brass Moustache Films</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/asylum-accommodation-substantive/">Public Accounts Committee followed up in April 2014:</a> “The standard of the accommodation provided was often unacceptably poor and the providers failed to improve quality in a timely manner.” And: “Contractors have remained slow in providing decent accommodation for a very vulnerable group of people.”</p><h2>Red doors and a Taliban room-mate</h2> <p>In February 2016 Stephen Doughty, Labour MP for Cardiff South &amp; Penarth, secured a <a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160210/halltext/160210h0001.htm">debate in Westminster Hall</a>: “We appear to have a situation in which the Home Office is contracting a small number of companies to place highly vulnerable people — often, it seems, in crowded or unsuitable accommodation — in a very small number of areas in a small group of dispersal centres and cities, and frequently in areas of low rents and deprivation,” he said.</p> <p>Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, reported: “A young man in my community who is gay and who has come to this country is having to share a bedroom with somebody who was once a member of the Taliban.”</p> <p>Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East, SNP) said: “We have had refugee houses easily identifiable by the colour of the door; stories of humiliation and harassment caused by the requirement for refugees in Cardiff to wear coloured wristbands; and a level of overcrowding that would be more appropriate in the slums of the 1900s, not the 21st century. It is clear to me that the system is broken, not just in one location and not just with one provider. That is why the Scottish National Party is calling for an urgent inquiry<span style="font-size: 1.2em;">.”</span></p> <p>But that didn't happen.</p><p>Labour’s Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, said: “There is now a short period until most of the contracts come up for renewal, so now is the time for a review to be carried out so that whatever mistakes were made in the past can be avoided in the future. I think some contracts will expire in 2017, with a possible two-year extension clause, so time is of the essence.” </p> <p>He said that lately: “I spent the whole day in Oldham, and in the end I came away with the conclusion that the only reason why more than 600 asylum seekers were there was because the unit price per head of accommodating them was lower there than anywhere else.” </p> <p>Starmer went on: “I lend my support to the call for a review. There is now a window of opportunity.”</p> <p>As we’ve seen, that window slammed shut in December 2016 when the Home Office extended the contracts.</p><h2>MPs in the dark</h2> <p>During the Westminster Hall debate, Alex Cunningham, the Labour MP for Stockton North, highlighted the matter of secrecy, how MPs are kept in the dark about how the companies carve up all that public money.</p> <p>“We must make the companies involved more accountable to the taxpayer,” Cunningham said. “Private companies that deliver public services, such as G4S and Jomast, are exempt from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner has no power to investigate private contractors.” He went on: “It is nigh on impossible to get our hands on the details of much of what private companies are up to with public money. Accountability must not stop where private sector involvement starts.”</p><h2>Criminal investigation into G4S and Serco</h2> <p>Lack of transparency isn’t the only problem. Both G4S and Serco were caught out “overbilling” the taxpayer under contracts for monitoring offenders — <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">the tagging scandal</a>. Both had charged the Ministry of Justice for applying electronic tags to ex-offenders who were not being tagged. Some were in prison. Others were dead. Serco <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/taxpayer-compensated-for-overcharging-as-cross-government-contracts-review-concludes">agreed to pay £68.5m back</a>. G4S tried to get away with <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/supportservices/10528322/G4S-probe-deepens-as-tagging-scandal-costs-Serco-68m.html">paying back £24.1 million</a> but eventually agreed on nearly £110 million. The <a href="https://www.sfo.gov.uk/cases/g4s-serco-2/">Serious Fraud Office</a> has had both companies under criminal investigation since November 2013. Information supplied by the SFO prompted the Financial Reporting Council in June last year to open another investigation —&nbsp;into <a href="https://www.frc.org.uk/News-and-Events/FRC-Press/Press/2016/June/Investigation-into-the-preparation,-approval-and-a.aspx">Deloitte’s handling of Serco’s accounts</a>. </p> <p>During “emergency talks” with the Home Office in December 2015, G4S and Serco <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/79c0bf80-a70b-11e5-955c-1e1d6de94879">used the financial press</a> to air their concerns about the losses they claimed to be making on the Compass contracts. That summer Serco boss Rupert Soames had used an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s business programme The Bottom Line to almost boast that over five years Serco would lose&nbsp; £115 million on the Compass contracts. “The taxpayer presumably is smiling,” he said.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FinancialTimescontracts.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FinancialTimescontracts.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="469" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Financial Times features 'struggling' outsourcers, 23 December 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>At the Home Affairs Committee hearing on 13 September 2016, Soames told MPs: “The reasons why the contracts are losing money for us are varied. One is that we under-bid. The price was too low. I have to say that a system of reverse Dutch auction conducted over the internet may not be the best way to establish pricing for a contract to provide care to tens of thousands of people.” </p> <p>He said the other reason was an increase in the numbers of asylum seekers.</p> <p>David Winnick MP asked Soames for a copy of Serco’s contract with its subcontractor Orchard &amp; Shipman. Soames replied: “No, sir, I do not think that would be appropriate.”</p> <p>The National Audit Office in <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/report/memorandum-role-major-contractors-delivery-public-services-2/">November 2013</a> issued a warning about the “crisis of confidence in contracting out of public services: “There is currently a lack of transparency over the role that contractors play, the business that they do, the rewards that they make and the way that they perform.”</p> <p>The NAO explained: “It is difficult to isolate the profit relating solely to their public-sector work. They (the contractors) rarely separate out their public-sector work as part of their segmental reporting. The government only has access to information on the profits contractors make where ‘open book arrangements’ are written into contracts.” Such open book arrangements do not apply to the Compass contracts.</p> <h2>Turning the tide</h2> <p>At a public meeting in Sheffield in 2012, when people learned that G4S had been given the asylum housing contracts, an asylum tenant from Zimbabwe stood up and said: “I don’t want a prison guard as my landlord.”</p> <p>Remember the executive sent to defend G4S’s reputation on the Victoria Derbyshire show? John Whitwam’s expertise is not in housing, nor human rights, nor the asylum system.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S executive John Whitwam on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme</span></span></span></p> <p>He’s a military man. As Lt Col John Whitwam he served as commanding officer, Royal Fusiliers. Then, after a brief go at investment banking —&nbsp;at Barclays, according to <a href="https://uk.linkedin.com/in/johnwhitwam">his LinkedIn profile</a>,&nbsp;he moved into soldiering-for-profit, as commercial director at Pilgrims Group, before joining G4S, the world’s biggest security company, and becoming “managing director immigration and borders”.</p><p>Asylum housing doesn’t belong in the private security industry and its Asylum Market.</p> <p>Tenants and rights campaigners did find some things to welcome in the Home Affairs Committee report. We in Yorkshire had already pushed our local councils to ban the forced sharing of bedrooms. The MPs recommended: “That forced bedroom sharing be phased out across the asylum estate as a whole and that the use of large scale HMO’s (Houses in Multiple Occupation) be reduced.”</p> <p>And . . . The MPs recommended that future contracts should involve local councils and the devolved nations, and voluntary organisations in deciding on and scrutinising local, and regional contracts for the provision of asylum housing. </p> <p>Asylum rights campaigners will seize on these recommendations to turn the tide against privatisation and intimidation, take asylum housing out of the market and put it back where it belongs, in public hands.</p> <p><br /><em> Asylum-seekers’ names have been changed.</em></p><p><em>See also Kate Smith at The Conversation: "<a href="https://theconversation.com/despite-repeated-failings-private-firms-continue-to-run-asylum-housing-70949">Despite repeated failings, private firms continue to run asylum housing".</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/welcome-to-my-asylum-home-i-d-offer-you-seat-if-i-had-one">Welcome to my asylum home. I’d offer you a seat — if I had one</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-promises-again-to-repaint-asylum-seeker-red-doors-and-reloc">G4S promises (again) to repaint asylum seeker red doors and relocate families at risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">G4S &amp; Serco fraud: Oops, we couldn&#039;t tell the difference between right and wrong</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/bed-bugs-and-freight-sheds-britain-s-welcome-to-asylum-seekers">Bed bugs and freight sheds: Britain’s welcome to asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">Destitution, intimidation . . . How Britain shirks its obligations to asylum-seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/five-lessons-britain-must-learn-from-botched-privatisation-of-asylum-housin">Five lessons Britain must learn from the botched privatisation of asylum housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">Living with rats. Landlord G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/britains-botched-privatisation-of-asylum-housing">Britain&#039;s botched privatisation of asylum housing</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:00:59 +0000 John Grayson 108799 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Welcome to my asylum home. I’d offer you a seat — if I had one https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/welcome-to-my-asylum-home-i-d-offer-you-seat-if-i-had-one <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Meanwhile a parliamentary inquiry into asylum housing lumbers on over ten months . . . and today in Leeds the Home Office holds yet another 'consultation' on a sorry business.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/preparing-lunch-on-floorBRIGHT.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/preparing-lunch-on-floorBRIGHT.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jayne chops vegetables on a tray on her kitchen mat (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Jayne is on her knees, chopping vegetables on a tray on her kitchen mat. Jayne has no table or chairs. She and her two young children have lived in this squalid house in Sheffield for two weeks. Their landlord is the international security company G4S which holds part of a £620m government contract to house asylum seekers.</p> <p>“I cannot stay here, it is not safe for my children.” Jayne is crying. She points to her storage ‘cupboard’. There’s shelving around steep, filthy and unguarded stairs that lead to cellar. The cellar is full of rubbish.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dangerous_dirty_stairs_cellar_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dangerous_dirty_stairs_cellar_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jayne's cellar steps (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>Sam is Jayne’s lively four-year old son. “Sam is ill all the time,” Jayne tells me. “It is because of the dirty house.” Sam has already fallen down the steep bedroom stairs — when the handrail came away from the wall.</p> <p>Debbie, a volunteer social worker, tells me: “I first came across Jayne and her family in a refugee hotel in Dunquerque. We spent months persuading the British authorities that the family had relatives in the UK and was entitled to claim asylum here.”</p> <p>Through an interpreter Jayne, in tears, says: “Travelling from Turkey my husband and my other daughter went missing, I don’t know where they are. </p> <p>“When I arrived I was given £90 for each of us, that was in August. I have received nothing for nearly three months. Friends and my relatives around Sheffield give me food, and support us. G4S promise to get me a payment and I am waiting for the post every day.”</p> <h2>A typical G4S house </h2> <p>In late October I inspect the house — typical of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">dozens of G4S houses</a> I have seen in Yorkshire over the past few years — rundown, dirty and neglected. Debbie has already protested about Jayne’s dangerous cooker and the National Grid man has capped off the gas pipe.</p> <p>“He told me G4S should be ashamed to put the family in with that cooker, he said that there had been a serious house gas explosion in the recent past in the area.”</p> <p>Jayne gave me a letter confirming that a dangerous gas appliance notice had been served on G4S.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/National_Grid_noticeCROP.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/National_Grid_noticeCROP.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>I walk around to the back of the house, where Sam might play. There’s a blocked drain, a broken-down fence and a passage leading directly on to the street with the door missing.&nbsp;</p> <p>Debbie had told me that Jayne was desperate about Sam’s safety. “Her fifteen-year-old, Marie, cannot understand why she has to keep security gates shut for Sam.” Both children have learning difficulties. Jayne tells me she must carry Sam around on her back up and down stairs. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Jayne_carry_SamOBSCURE.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Jayne_carry_SamOBSCURE.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jayne carries Sam down the stairs (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>As I am leaving Jayne answers to a knock on the door — it is a G4S delivery of table, chairs and a new cooker — Debbie’s protests have worked. </p> <p>The house is still dangerous for Sam and I have written to G4S warning them that they must provide safe accommodation now or risk a legal challenge to safeguard the human rights of Sam and Marie.</p> <p>Legal action may be the only way to make Sam safe. On 7 November the Red Cross wrote to Paul Bilbao, head of Asylum Support Contracts and Compliance at the Home Office in Leeds giving details of my inspection of Jayne’s house and a further Red Cross visit detailing dangers to Sam and his sister, and the urgent need for the family to be moved. On 10 November a reply came from Lee-Anne Prince, the Home Office specialist for ‘safeguarding children’ in asylum housing in Yorkshire.</p> <p>She wrote:&nbsp;“I have spoken to G4S and we are intending to visit the property in the next few weeks after which I will come back to you.”</p><h2><span>Breaches of contract</span></h2> <p>According to its Home Office contract G4S must supply accommodation that is safe, habitable, fit for purpose, and correctly equipped and furnished, and G4S must “provide accommodation for disabled persons that is fit for purpose…in compliance with relevant law.”</p> <p>Jayne’s furniture and a safe cooker should have been in the house before G4S moved the family in — one more breach of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">COMPASS asylum housing contract</a> requirements. </p> <p>Working alongside asylum seekers over the past five years I have uncovered hundreds of such breaches. </p> <p>This past year other campaigners, local councils and groups of asylum tenants and refugees have sent <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/asylum-accommodation/publications/">written evidence</a> about asylum housing, just like Jayne’s, to the Home Affairs Committee’s (HAC) Inquiry into asylum housing.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Cellar_head_larder_filthy_stairs_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Cellar_head_larder_filthy_stairs_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jayne's cellar-head 'larder' (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>The Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) interviewed 76 asylum-housing tenants, and <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/asylum-accommodation/written/37481.html">told the committee</a> that asylum seekers reported unsanitary conditions, dampness and cold, electrical and heating faults. One person told the researchers that the heating timer was set to turn off from Friday to Monday, and therefore there would be no heating in the house over the weekend. Another said they were left without heating for weeks on end.</p> <p>The <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/asylum-accommodation/written/36555.html">Welsh Refugee Coalition evidence</a> states: “Housing is a major problem for many asylum seekers ...the housing provided was often inadequate, degrading, shameful and unhygienic.”</p> <p>Bradford City of Sanctuary investigated <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/asylum-accommodation/written/37950.html">twenty-five cases</a> and reported that: </p> <p>“fifteen directly referred to the cleanliness of the housing, which includes dusty carpets, mice infested kitchens, water leaking from walls, poor odours and mite damage. A number…did not have fully functioning central heating and boilers”.</p> <p><a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/asylum-accommodation/written/37951.html">Bradford City Council</a> had responded to complaints from asylum housing tenants.</p> <p>“The Council’s housing standards team inspected a number of HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) properties…and found that within each property similar deficiencies were repeatedly present such as; rodent infestations, damp, failure to meet…standards in terms of fire safety, external yards/gardens were overgrown.”</p> <h2>Jessica: blood and mice</h2> <p>Reading the evidence, I’m reminded of a G4S house in Leicester I visited recently. There I listen to Jessica, who arrived from the Middle East in July. </p> <p>She was allocated a room in a filthy G4S house. The mattress of her bed was stained with blood.</p> <p>After protests from the Red Cross she was moved to another house in Leicester…this time infested with mice.</p> <p>“I am terrified of the mice in my bedroom,” she tells me. “I cannot sleep.” Jessica shows me the mouse-traps and poison she has bought for her room. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Jessica_bedroom_rodent_control.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Jessica_bedroom_rodent_control.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jessica attempts rodent control (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Two other women in the house, young asylum seekers from Africa, tell me of other problems. Dawn said: &nbsp;</p> <p>“This house was without heating and hot water for nearly a month, we were boiling kettles to have a bath. The G4S man said that we should not switch the boiler off because it will not come back on…we live with a noisy boiler in this overheated kitchen now.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Buckets_hand_washing_clothes.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Buckets_hand_washing_clothes.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Buckets for hand-washing clothes (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>Dawn had been in the house for two years. “Our washing machine kept leaking and was never repaired properly — then G4S left us without a washing machine for six months — they told us to wash our clothes by hand.” Dawn pointed to the buckets they had bought to do the washing.</p> <h2>Ken – two years with rats</h2> <p>Rodents are a common feature in G4S housing. In Sheffield I talked with Ken, who showed me a window in his kitchen. “My wife had nightmares when she saw the rats out there so we put tape on the window,” he said. Ken arrived from the Middle East two years ago with his wife and twenty-year-old daughter.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Kenkitchen_window.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Kenkitchen_window.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ken's kitchen window (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>“We saw the house and said we would not live there, the G4S man said that there were plenty of English people living under bridges and that we could join them if we refused the house.” </p> <p>Ken and his family have complained about the rats on at least six occasions over the past two years. The G4S notice in the house says the pest control staff came in mid-September but Ken tells me the rats are still about. </p> <p>And that’s not all.</p> <p>Ken told me: “Young people came every night throwing stones at the house and calling racist names.” The police were called, but still G4S would not move the family to safe accommodation.</p> <p>Asylum seekers in Northern Ireland reported racist treatment from their landlords —&nbsp;the property company Orchard &amp; Shipman, subcontractors to Serco. The Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers expressed alarm that “derogatory and racist behaviour” was common among Orchard &amp; Shipman staff.</p> <p>The Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/asylum-accommodation/written/37481.html">reported to the Home Affairs Committee</a> that a majority of asylum seekers said staff behaviour “made them feel like ‘animals’ and that they were ‘subhuman’. Others reported that they felt ‘bullied’.”</p> <h2>What next for asylum housing?</h2> <p>Campaigners for better conditions for asylum seekers in accommodation provided by the Home Office contractors G4S, Serco and Clearel (Clearsprings) have had some success. Scottish Refugee Council’s work &nbsp;alongside asylum housing tenants in Glasgow has resulted in <a href="http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14759915.Under_fire_housing_firm_says_move_away_from_asylum_seeker_home_management_is_not_because_of_complaints/">Serco dropping Orchard &amp; Shipman from the contracts in Scotland</a>. In the North East rumours circulate that G4S is planning to drop its sole contractor there, Jomast Developments, the company that achieved front page coverage in The Times for painting asylum seekers’ doors red.</p> <p>While the Home Affairs Committee prepares its report on these matters, the Home Office continues to negotiate with G4S, Serco and Clearel (Clearsprings) to extend the contract for two more years until 2019.</p> <p>Since the contractors came on board in June 2012, there have been four significant inquiries, featuring asylum housing in Parliament, the Children’s’ Society Parliamentary panel in 2013, a Home Affairs Committee inquiry in 2013, a Public Accounts Committee inquiry in 2014 and the current Home Affairs Committee inquiry. </p> <p>In 2016 G4S was fined £5.6m for the standard of the housing it provided in 2013/14. Despite all that, regardless of persistently negative media coverage and asylum tenants’ tenacious resistance and solidarity campaigning, still, G4S, Serco and Clearel hold the contract. Indeed, the Home Office is currently negotiating a contract extension with its ‘commercial partners’.</p> <p>In any normal commercial setting a contractor producing such shoddy work might quickly find themselves off the job. </p> <p>Why does the government tolerate this? Is it because substandard accommodation is exactly what the government wants for asylum seekers? This is one of the questions I'll put to the Home Office today in Leeds at their 'consultation' on future asylum housing contracts.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Note: Jayne, Sam, Marie, Jessica, Dawn and Ken are pseudonyms.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-promises-again-to-repaint-asylum-seeker-red-doors-and-reloc">G4S promises (again) to repaint asylum seeker red doors and relocate families at risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/bed-bugs-and-freight-sheds-britain-s-welcome-to-asylum-seekers">Bed bugs and freight sheds: Britain’s welcome to asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Fri, 18 Nov 2016 08:39:00 +0000 John Grayson 106909 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Today, yet again, a Parliamentary committee will hear how commercial landlords are failing asylum seeker tenants. And then what?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/P1010330.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/P1010330.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jean's back yard (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>A few days ago I was chatting with Jean, the mother of three small children, in the back yard of her Sheffield home.</p> <p>Jean pointed to rat poison boxes, the fence gnawed by rats. “My children cannot play here, they are frightened of the rats,” she said. </p> <p>Jean (not her real name) is an asylum seeker from North Africa. She finished a degree in England last summer. Her home has water leaks, unsafe flooring, and damp walls which had holes in them, back in April, when the family moved in. The house is managed under a government contract by the world’s largest security company, G4S.</p> <h2>Unity and social justice</h2> <p>On the day that Home Secretary Theresa became Prime Minister, she stood on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street and proclaimed her ‘mission’. &nbsp;It was “to make Britain a country that works for everyone”. She spoke of “social justice”. She spoke of the union, not just between the countries of the United Kingdom, “but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from”.</p> <p>Remember that: “Everyone of us, wherever we are from.”</p> <p>In late July <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/exclusive-g4s-to-take-over-vital-government-discrimination-s?utm_term=.krPMWl2kN#.ak1JeMrxQ">the UK government named the company</a> that would run a helpline for people who have faced discrimination on the grounds of their sex, race or disability. The company? G4S.</p> <p>Did it matter that G4S is well known for the “unhealthy culture” and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">“endemic racism”</a> noted by the coroner at the inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an asylum seeker “unlawfully killed” by G4S?</p> <p>Did it matter that G4S had recently been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/05/moj-to-take-over-medway-child-jail-from-g4s">stripped of a contract</a> to run <a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/childrens-rights-blog/1158565/secure-training-centres-in-numbers">Medway</a> children’s prison after revelations of abuse of young people, abuse which had prevailed in secure training centres <a href="https://policypress.co.uk/children-behind-bars">for many years</a>? </p> <p>Apparently not.</p> <p>Over the past four years the Home Office, under Theresa May, has come under relentless criticism for the quality of asylum housing. There was the &nbsp;Children’s Society parliamentary inquiry in early 2013, the Home Affairs select committee inquiry in 2013, the Public Accounts Committee inquiry in 2014 —&nbsp;all reported on “atrocious” asylum housing conditions. G4S and Serco were fined £5.6m for this fundamental breach of the contract in 2012/13.</p> <p>Back in 2013, Zoe Williams asked in the Guardian, “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/12/g4s-serious-failure-government">just how bad does G4S need to get before it loses government contracts?</a>” </p> <p>Something for parliamentary Home Affairs committee to consider when it resumes hearings on the G4S, Serco and Clearsprings asylum housing contracts on Tuesday 13 September. </p> <h2>Hostile environment</h2><p>Lately I’ve been talking with Angela. She was a G4S asylum tenant in 2012. I wrote then about how <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">she had found cockroaches in her baby son's bottle</a> and slugs in the carpets. Now a refugee settled in Leeds, Angela (not her real name) said: “I am really shocked G4S still has that asylum housing contract, they have ruined the early months and years of so many children.”</p> <p>In May 2012, Theresa May, then Home Secretary, told the Telegraph: “The aim is to create here in Britain <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/9291483/Theresa-May-interview-Were-going-to-give-illegal-migrants-a-really-hostile-reception.html">a really hostile environment</a> for illegal migration.”</p><p>The following month, G4S, along with Serco and the smaller Reliance security company (in partnership with Clearsprings housing company), were handed the £620m contract for housing people awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims. At the time, this was the largest contract ever given by the Home Office.</p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">Over four years</a>, working alongside asylum seekers, I have witnessed and reported on the “hostile environment”. I have seen its devastating impact on vulnerable lives.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/__BESTjohn closeup with reporter inside out_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/__BESTjohn closeup with reporter inside out_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="269" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Grayson, BBC TV Inside Out programme March 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>Catherine Tshezi, who was dumped in a G4S/Jomast <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">‘mother and baby’ hostel in Stockton</a> in 2012, weeks after giving birth, said about her experience there: “This really goes to show that the asylum seekers are not respected. We are all human beings and we deserve respect and dignity.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.refugeewomen.co.uk/uncategorized/mother-and-baby-face-eviction/">Cha Matty</a>, a whistle-blower who exposed conditions in the hostel in the Guardian and before a parliamentary inquiry told me: “They simply want to make profits out of us, they show us no respect.” </p> <p>When I interviewed her in 2012 she had been in the hostel with her toddler son for over a year. She said she was “shocked and disappointed at how we have been treated by the powers that be. How inhuman they are treating us, and we are just numbers for them in making a profit which is very unfair and sad”.</p> <p>It’s 2016 and I am still visiting <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/bed-bugs-and-freight-sheds-britain-s-welcome-to-asylum-seekers">squalid G4S asylum properties in Yorkshire</a>. In March, The Times reported on allegedly <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/scotland/article4717097.ece">“horrific”</a> asylum housing supplied by Serco in Glasgow, and Clearsprings in London. On 2 August the Guardian reported: </p> <p>“There are currently <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/02/dozens-of-asylum-seekers-crammed-into-single-home-office-property">18 women and 15 children living in the property</a> in Hounslow, which is two terrace houses knocked together …. Residents have complained of infestations of rats in the kitchen, bedbugs and slugs, filthy conditions, leaks, naked wires left exposed and periodic infestations of cockroaches.”</p> <h2>Good enough for an asylum seeker</h2> <p>Stuart Monk is owner and managing director of Jomast, a property company based in the north east of England, that “strives to relentlessly pursue improvement in all aspects of its business” according to <a href="http://www.jomast.co.uk/about-us/strategy-visions-values/">its publicity material</a>.</p> <p>In January 2016 The Times accused Jomast of creating <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">“apartheid on the streets of Britain”</a> by painting asylum seekers doors red, and Monk was called before the Home Affairs Select Committee. He said memorably that the homes he provided were <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest-landlord">“a product suitable for an asylum seeker”</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/STUART MONK-this one.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/STUART MONK-this one.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stuart Monk of Jomast, Home Affairs Committee, January 2016</span></span></span></p> <p>Rupert Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill and CEO of Serco, in June 2015 told BBC Radio 4’s cheerleading business programme ‘The Bottom Line’ that the new outsourcing market: “makes Britain now to public service provision what Silicon Valley is to IT”.</p> <h2>The winners</h2><p>In the first three months of 2016 new public sector contracts <a href="https://www.arvato.com/content/dam/arvato/documents/reports/studies/arvato_UK_outsourcing_index_Q1_2016_main_infographic.pdf">worth £1.35 billion</a> were announced in the UK – sixty five per cent of all outsourced contracts.</p> <p>In a close and cosy world, outsourcing companies provide well paid positions to former politicians and other prominent public figures. In 2009, John Reid, while still a serving Member of Parliament, took a <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/090624/memi23.htm">£50,000-a-year “consultancy” role at G4S</a>. They made him a director —&nbsp;from July 2010 until April 2013. And Reid, a former Labour Home and Defence Secretary has continued to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/woolwich-lord-reid-security-industrys-salesman">promote the security industry’s wares</a> in the House of Lords.</p> <p>G4S board members have included Lord Condon, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Adam Crozier, head of ITV. Current chairman <a href="http://www.gosh.org/about-us/leadership-and-governance/trustees">John Connolly</a>, once Britain’s highest paid accountant —&nbsp;at Deloitte — also chairs the board at the Great Ormond Street Hospital charity, and was an advisor to Mayor of London Boris Johnson. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/P1010327.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/P1010327.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fence gnawed by rats in Jean's back yard (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>The Telegraph in April 2016 estimated that in 2011/2012 the Home Office spent £150million providing accommodation for asylum seekers, in 2014/15 it is <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/24/rich-list-asylum-king-who-houses-migrants-in-budget-hotels-enter/">thought to be closer to £200million</a>. </p> <p>Stuart Monk, owner of G4S contractor Jomast is reported to be worth £175m. </p><p>James Vyvyan Robinson CEO of Clearsprings, formerly of G4S, has an annual salary of more than £200,000. Graham King, the founder and chairman of Clearsprings, trousered £960,000 from the company in 2014. </p><p>Alex Langsam, founder of Britannia Hotels, twice voted <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2809363/Britannia-Hotels-named-worst-chain-UK-according-holidaymakers-Sofitel-Premier-Inn-given-honours.html#ixzz4FXZU6NNs">the worst hotel chain</a> in Which? Polls, this year entered <a href="http://tdi.tagmedia.co.uk/NITL/TT_AND_ST_BRAND/RICH_LIST_2016/APR16_LANDING_PAGE/109052117_/OUTPUT_FILES/HTML_v3/index.html">The Sunday Times rich list</a> with an estimated personal fortune of £220m. Langsam has <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/24/rich-list-asylum-king-who-houses-migrants-in-budget-hotels-enter/">been dubbed ‘The Asylum King’</a> after securing contracts in 2014 to house refugees in 17 of his budget hotels and making a profit of £14m for the company. </p> <p>Over the past few months, along with other members of SYMAAG, an asylum rights group, I have been attending small ‘hearings’ in Yorkshire held to collect evidence for the Home Affairs Committee from G4S asylum housing tenants. The evidence continues to reveal a picture of filthy properties, G4S staff invading the privacy of tenants’ homes, and vulnerable and traumatised tenants being neglected.</p> <p>Tenants attending the hearings and the many tenants I have worked alongside over the past four years have had the courage to raise their voices against the disrespect and abuse they have faced in their asylum homes. Will the peoples representatives take action this time? Will they force G4S, Serco and Clearsprings off the asylum housing contract? If not, why not?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-promises-again-to-repaint-asylum-seeker-red-doors-and-reloc">G4S promises (again) to repaint asylum seeker red doors and relocate families at risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/bed-bugs-and-freight-sheds-britain-s-welcome-to-asylum-seekers">Bed bugs and freight sheds: Britain’s welcome to asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">Destitution, intimidation . . . How Britain shirks its obligations to asylum-seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/britains-botched-privatisation-of-asylum-housing">Britain&#039;s botched privatisation of asylum housing</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Tue, 13 Sep 2016 07:00:00 +0000 John Grayson 105297 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rough handling and restraint: UK forced removals still a nasty business https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/rough-handling-and-restraint-uk-forced-removals-still-nast <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A support group gathers disturbing testimony from people deported by commercial contractors Tascor.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/TASCORPROMO.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/TASCORPROMO.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="347" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tascor promotional material</span></span></span></p><p>Eight private security guards restrained and physically forced a fearful man onto a recent Home Office removal flight at Stansted Airport, a fellow passenger has reported.</p> <p>The charter flight on Titan Airways departed Stansted for Nigeria and Ghana on May 24. It was staffed for the UK Home Office by the private security company Tascor, a subsidiary of Capita, <a href="http://www.tascor.co.uk/what-we-do/immigration-and-border/">who claim to achieve</a>&nbsp;the “safe and secure escorting and removal of more than 18,000 individuals from the UK each year”. </p> <p><a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org">The Unity Centre</a> in Glasgow, a voluntary group that offers support to people seeking asylum and anyone affected by border controls, has taken witness statements from three men who expressed concerns about the treatment meted out to the restrained detainee we’ll call Jack. The three witnesses were forcibly removed from the UK alongside Jack.</p> <h2>Propelled onto the plane </h2> <p>Speaking over the phone from Accra, Witness A told us he was sitting behind Jack on the coach journey from Colnbrook detention centre in Middlesex to Stansted Airport. He said that Jack complained of back and leg pain during the 65 mile journey. When the coach reached Stansted, and the guards prepared to board the plane, he said that Jack knelt down and “just let himself go”, falling to the ground.</p> <p>The witness claimed that Jack showed no aggression as he told Tascor guards that he didn’t want to go, and that his life would be in danger if he got onto the plane. He continued to tell staff this as he passively resisted being removed from the ground.&nbsp; </p> <p>Then, approximately eight Tascor guards held the man, pulling him up from the floor and holding him in an “L” position, propelling him up the stairs and onto the plane, said Witness B. Jack’s escort “buddy” —&nbsp;the guard assigned to him —&nbsp;asked the supervisor “if it was okay if they bind him”, to which the supervisor agreed.</p><p>Via email from Lagos, Witness C told us of prison-like conditions and humiliating scrutiny. He said: “Anyone finding themselves in that situation… having someone sit next to you, taking notes on your behaviour patterns, if you’ve eaten, if you’ve drank water, if you’ve been to the loo — I mean, no one wants to be in that situation.”</p> <p>He continued: “It’s not a nice experience for anybody. Imagine —&nbsp;even when you’re getting on the plane, they hold you, there’s one person holding you on the left, one person holding you on the right, and then takes you up the plane.”</p> <p>Witness B told us that detainees were vastly outnumbered by Tascor guards.</p><h2>A nasty business&nbsp;</h2><p>In 2013, Tascor guards were accused of a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21384435">brutal assault</a> on Marius Betondi, a Cameroonian man who was seeking asylum.</p> <p>Dr Charmian Goldwyn, a doctor instructed by the UK charity Medical Justice, examined Betondi, noting that the “number, pattern and distribution of injuries is in my opinion typical of their attribution to deliberate blows to the face caused during a recent assault”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/betondi.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/betondi.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="224" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marius Betondi</span></span></span></p> <p>But, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21384435">BBC report</a>ed: “immigration sources said Mr Betondi had caused the injuries himself”.</p> <p><span>Tascor is part of the Capita outsourcing group, who took over the Home Office contract from Reliance Secure Task Management in 2012. The contract had passed to Reliance from G4S in April 2011, six months after the death of Jimmy Mubenga during an attempted removal.</span></p> <p>Mubenga, a healthy 46 year old and father of five children, died after being restrained by three G4S guards on a British Airways plane at Heathrow Airport in October 2010.</p> <p>In July 2013 an inquest jury found that he had been “unlawfully killed”. Three G4S guards were acquitted of manslaughter in December 2014. Racist texts found on the mobile phones of two of the guards were read out to the inquest jury, but the racist texts and the fact of the unlawful killing verdict were <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">withheld from the jury in the criminal trial</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MUBENGA_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MUBENGA_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jimmy Mubenga</span></span></span></p><p>The coroner in the case of Jimmy Mubenga published a report on the case (known as a&nbsp;<a href="http://iapdeathsincustody.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Rule-43-Report-Jimmy-Mubenga.pdf">‘Rule 43’ report</a>&nbsp;or a 'Prevention of future deaths' report). The coroner, Karon Monaghan QC, noted that employees moved from one contractor to another as the contract changed hands. She cited the racist texts as evidence of a “pervasive racism” at G4S, and she wrote: “There was other evidence . . . of an unhealthy culture in G4S, and then Reliance, and it is difficult to see why that would have changed now that Tascor holds the contract, for the reasons just given.”</p> <p>She went on: “Evidence before the Inquest suggested problems with culture and behaviour more widely manifested by, as it was reported by one witness,<em> ‘loutish, laddish behaviour... Inappropriate language, and peer pressure. Don’t necessarily celebrate difference. Don’t personalise the detainee...’</em>”.</p> <p>The coroner continued, “The same witness reported evidence that Reliance was not a company where women, ethnic minorities and those of diverse religions felt comfortable. It seems unlikely that endemic racism would not impact at all on service provision.”</p> <h2>‘Just doing our job’</h2> <p>One man deported to Nigeria earlier this year told The Unity Centre, via phone from Lagos, that three Tascor guards escorted him onto a commercial Virgin Atlantic flight, before other passengers boarded. </p> <p>Terry (not his real name) told The Unity Centre that he did not physically resist removal, but made it clear to the guards and other passengers that he was being removed against his will from the UK, where he has a partner and young child. </p> <p>Terry told us that in response to his shouts that he had a human rights court case pending, Tascor escorts applied forceful pressure to his joints —to his wrists, left knee and left thumb. This continued at the back of the plane until the flight took off, when Terry says he gave up shouting.</p> <p>No passenger took action or offered support. For the duration of the flight Terry was restrained around his waist and wrists. He said that during the flight Tascor guards began “casually chatting” with him, telling him their jobs were “simply to effect deportation”.</p> <p>Terry says he left the plane in Nigeria in serious pain: his wrists were swollen and he walked with a limp. He says he took more than two weeks to recover and had no money to see a doctor.</p> <h2>Reasonable, necessary and proportionate?</h2> <p>I asked Tascor and the Home Office for comment on the standard use of physical force and restraints by guards during deportations, and specifically in relation to the events on the charter flight of May 24.</p> <p>The Home Office responded: “Those with no right to be in the UK should return home. We expect people to leave the country voluntarily but, where they do not, Immigration Enforcement will seek to enforce their departure.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/plane bus_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/plane bus_0.jpg" alt="" title="Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p><p> The Home Office statement continued: “Where detainees refuse to comply, we regrettably may have to use force to ensure they leave the UK. Any use of force must be reasonable, necessary and proportionate and there is a heavy emphasis on using it as a matter of last resort, and for the shortest possible time. The use of restraint is closely monitored and we operate a comprehensive complaints system if detainees feel that they have not been treated in accordance with our standards. The decision to use handcuffs is only ever made on the basis of a full individual risk assessment.”</p> <p>Tascor responded that it would be inappropriate for them to comment beyond the statement provided by the Home Office.</p> <h2>The next flight</h2> <p>In accordance with the Home Office’s bimonthly schedule regarding “Operation Majestic”, a mass deportation charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana is set for Tuesday 26 July.</p> <p>Under the new Immigration Act 2016 and expansion of the Home Office’s ‘Deport Now, Appeal Later’ policy, many people given removal directions for July 26 have been denied a right of appeal in the UK. </p> <p>In order to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, out-of-country appeals must be treated as if the appellant has remained in the UK. In practice, potential appellants face multiple barriers to justice. These include a lack of willing lawyers, the difficultly of lodging an appeal within the 28-day time limit, financial hardship, and the all-encompassing struggle to readjust and survive post-deportation. </p> <p>In the past few months The Unity Centre has been in contact with people unable to pursue an out-of-country appeal due to the precarity and risk first identified in their asylum or human rights claim whilst in the UK.</p> <p>A new organisation called Roots to Return is being set up to support those who wish to pursue their out-of-country appeal “right” and to support families remaining in the UK. If you would like to find out more, you can email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:rootstoreturn@gmail.com">rootstoreturn@gmail.com</a></p> <p>For more information and ways to get involved with resisting the charter flight on July 26, get in touch: <a href="mailto:unitycentremedia@gmail.com">unitycentremedia@gmail.com</a> </p> <h2>Support in Nigeria</h2> <p><a href="https://www.youcaring.com/deportations-from-the-uk-600534">A group of people</a> who have been removed to Nigeria against their will by the UK Home Office are offering support and solidarity to people who are also forcibly removed to Nigeria. They want to help to pick people up from the airport, contact any friends or family they may still have in Nigeria, document people’s stories to raise awareness of the injustice and violence of deportations, and challenge removals where possible.</p> <p>You can read more about the group and donate to their crowdfunder <a href="https://www.youcaring.com/deportations-from-the-uk-600534">here</a>. The money raised will go towards costs for travelling to and from the airport people, phone credit and phones for people to contact any friends or family they may still have in Nigeria, food, emergency accommodation, emergency transport, and resources for recording peoples stories.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/ghosted-away-uk-s-secret-removal-flights-examined">Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/frail-84-year-old-subjected-to-inhuman-and-degrading-treatment-p">Frail 84 year old subjected to ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’, prison ombudsman says</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/dozens-of-fathers-among-migrants-to-be-forcibly-deported-tonight">Dozens of fathers among migrants to be forcibly deported tonight</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/woman-stands-naked-on-airport-runway-takes-overdose">Woman stands naked on airport runway, takes overdose</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/jimmy-mubenga-and-shame-of-british-airways">Jimmy Mubenga and the shame of British Airways</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/justice-blindfolded-case-of-jimmy-mubenga">Justice blindfolded? The case of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/security-industry-provides-medics-for-uk-deportation-flights">Security industry provides medics for UK deportation flights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Lotte Lewis Sat, 23 Jul 2016 17:50:20 +0000 Lotte Lewis 104208 at https://www.opendemocracy.net G4S: Don't blame us — blame the prison system https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-roberts/g4s-dont-blame-us-blame-prison-system <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An activist reports from G4S annual general meeting, Surrey, England, 26 May 2016.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**G4Slogo Securing your worldCROP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**G4Slogo Securing your worldCROP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Throughout the criminal justice system, combinations of state bodies and voluntary sector organisations have increasingly been joined by private sector companies to manage and deliver services. Academics and activists have labelled this expanding marketplace as the “<a href="http://www.prisonabolition.org/what-is-the-prison-industrial-complex/" target="_blank">prison industrial complex</a>”.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.prisonabolition.org/what-is-the-prison-industrial-complex/" target="_blank">Empty Cages Collective</a>&nbsp;describe the prison industrial complex as not just prisons, but the “mutually reinforcing web of relationships, between and not limited to, for example, prisons, the probation service, the police, the courts, all the companies that profit from transporting, feeding and exploiting prisoners”.</p> <p>Globally the prison industrial complex is a multi-billion pound industry that draws together private and government interests. It profits from using policing, prisons and punishment as a response to social, political and economic problems. It is a self-perpetuating system targeting the poor, people of colour and those most vulnerable to detainment, such as those experiencing mental health, drug or alcohol problems. It reinforces and recreates inequalities, ensuring there is an endless supply of people to feed into the criminal justice system.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>G4S: “Securing your world”</strong></h2> <p>One of the private companies involved in the prison industrial complex is G4S, currently drawing international scrutiny as the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is-one-of-t">employer of Florida shooter Omar Mateen</a> who slaughtered 49 people in an LGBT night club on Sunday 12 June. </p><p>A company with more than 600,000 employees across 110 countries, G4S boasts that it is “securing your world”. Their <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/">website</a> outlines the range of services they operate in the UK, including children’s services, custodial and detention, electronic monitoring, immigration and borders, policing support services and health. <span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*G4S ORLANDO-extra stories_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*G4S ORLANDO-extra stories_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="334" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>openDemocracyUK front page Monday 13 June 2016</span></span></span><br /></span></p> <p>G4S has drawn significant negative publicity and criticism over recent years. Throughout 2015/2016 there has been a steady flow of official reports and media exposés highlighting reasons to be concerned about the company’s services. </p> <p>In May 2015, Ofsted, the regulator for education and children’s services, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-%E2%80%98degrading-treatment%E2%80%99-by-guards-high-on-">released a report</a> on Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre revealing that young people in the care of G4S were subjected to “racist comments”, “degrading treatment”, “while being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs”. </p> <p>In June 2015, <a href="https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/ongoing-electronic-tagging-scandal">it was revealed</a> that the Ministry of Justice were still paying G4S and Serco to deliver electronic tagging, more than a year after they withdrew from such contracts after “overbilling”. </p> <p>In January 2016, a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">BBC Panorama documentary revealed</a> serious abuse at Medway Secure Training Centre that led to the suspension and arrest of G4S staff. This was followed by an announcement in February that they would be withdrawing from youth justice services in the UK and US.</p> <p>In May 2016 I attended the G4S Annual General Meeting as a shareholder, along with other members of the <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com">Reclaim Justice Network</a>. This is the third consecutive year our members have attended. The goal was to ask the G4S board of directors about the company’s role in criminal justice services.</p> <p>No electronic items were allowed into the meeting, making reporting of the questions and answers, difficult. There were a number of campaigners from <a href="http://www.waronwant.org/g4s">War on Want</a> and the BDS movements, among others, raising concerns about G4S’s services in Israel. What follows here is a summary of some of the questions raised by Reclaim Justice Network members in relation to G4S’s criminal justice operations in the UK.</p> <p>The AGM took place at the Holiday Inn in Sutton. The room was lined by around twelve uniformed G4S security guards. The front row was packed with what seemed to be G4S staff. They were joined by various individuals in “plain clothes”, wearing badges marked with “Security”.</p> <p>John Connolly, G4S’s Chairman, opened the meeting – offering a polite, yet strong warning that anyone who disrupted the meeting would be asked to stop and then asked to leave. During his opening remarks, people around the room took turns to chant “Action”, “Not words”. And “Shut”, “Them”, “All”, “Down”.</p> <h2><strong>Medway &amp; Rainsbrook</strong></h2> <p>The first shareholder question was from a man representing a large pension fund with investments in G4S. He raised concerns about the use of excessive force as seen at Medway Secure Training Centre in an undercover BBC Panorama documentary. He asked whether such incidents would affect the value of investments and if it had directly impacted upon directors’ remuneration.</p> <p>In response, John Connolly, who last year took £370,000 in fees and benefits in his part-time job as G4S chairman, said there was a “rigorous process” for assessing the senior management team. </p><p>Ashley Almanza, the G4S chief executive, followed on, stating the contract had now come to an end after an agreement with the Ministry of Justice that it would not be extended.&nbsp;</p><p>Almanza, who took £2.5 million in pay and bonuses last year, said the BBC Panorama documentary had been “appalling” and “shocking”. He claimed there were “rigorous methods” for recruiting staff and it had been “deeply disappointing”. </p><p>He defended the services in Medway and Rainsbrook secure training centres, pointing out both had achieved either “good” or “outstanding” inspections. Almanza said that lessons had been learned from Medway and shared across the whole prison estate.</p> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="225" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All I asked you to do was clean this fucking door and you aint!' G4S Medway officer to boy, age 14 (BBC Panorama)</span></span></span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>One shareholder raised the issue of the restraint of children at Medway, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">as revealed by Panorama</a>, and asked what G4S is doing to remedy the harms experienced. Almanza said that it was important to understand the distinction between restraint techniques developed and approved by government – and “individuals ignoring policy and training”.</p> <p>He said that Medway offered a “learning point for everyone involved and across the UK”, as after Panorama’s revelations, “methods have changed”. Almanza said that G4S want to work with the government to improve safety and mentioned the trialing of body-worn cameras.</p> <p>In later questioning Almanza also emphasised that the company had withdrawn from all “juvenile custody” services in both the UK and USA. He was asked a number of times for clarification on the reasons for this withdrawal but seemed reluctant to offer a direct response — or accept any connection to the incidents at Medway. He eventually said that the company wants to focus on areas they believe they can do the “best job” to “benefit our shareholders”.</p> <p>The board was asked if there were any other outstanding and undisclosed investigations into the behaviour of staff in relation to the treatment of children and young people in secure training centres and children’s homes. Almanza said that he was not aware of any “government investigations”. &nbsp;</p> <p>The shareholder asked again, whether G4S knew of any ongoing and undisclosed investigations into G4S staff behaviour towards children. Almanza responded that it was difficult to say given the number of people they are dealing with and can’t necessarily be aware of all incidents. </p> <p>The shareholder again asked for confirmation: “So, to be clear, shareholders are unlikely to hear further revelations about this kind of thing?” He said that a “hotline” has been set up for staff to report any concerning behaviour, but as this is a new process, he did not have figures.</p> <p>On 8 June 2016, just a couple of weeks after Almanza’s response, <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2016/06/08/Medway%20Secure%20Training%20Centre/">a statement from G4S</a> confirmed that five more G4S staff from Medway STC had been charged by Kent police.</p> <h2>Not G4S prisons, just run by G4S</h2> <p>A question was posed on the right to life, on self-harm and self-inflicted deaths in G4S prisons. A shareholder highlighted that <a href="http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/exposed-alarming-self-harm-rates-suicides-8599851">6 people had died in HMP Altcourse</a> and in 2013 there were more than 900 recorded incidents of self-harm. The shareholder asked whether this “tragic pattern” indicated a failure in the duty of care for human beings.</p> <p>Almanza emphasised that these are not G4S prisons, and that they are owned by the Ministry of Justice. “G4S runs them,” he said, “with oversight from government”. Almanza said that self-harm and deaths in custody are experienced across the prison estate. He said that all members of the board have visited G4S run prisons, and boasted that “you as shareholders would be impressed by the way staff run the prisons”. They are “difficult environments” to work in and he emphasised the “skill of staff”. Almanza said the company will look to continue to reduce self-harm in prisons.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/securing injustice.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/securing injustice.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activist artwork</span></span></span></p><p>The same shareholder then detailed how at a public meeting in February 2016, attended by around 80 people, they had heard a G4S prison custody officer detailing the alleged response by staff to a prisoner who had attempted to take their own life by burning themselves through lighting matches around their clothing. Almanza asked for “evidence”. He said “our facilities are inspected continuously” and said the shareholder had “made a serious allegation” – “provide us with evidence and we will investigate”.</p> <p>The shareholder in question, Dr David Scott, spoke to Ashley Almanza and John Connolly after the meeting. They invited him to put his concerns in writing which he did so the same week. He is yet to receive a reply, but <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/g4s-a-global-leader-in-human-rights/">you can read his letter here</a>. It eloquently outlines very important issues relating to G4S commitment to human rights. Scott also asks that “G4S undertake a thorough investigation into the treatment and response of staff to prisoners who self-harm, experience mental health problems and / or experience or have acted upon suicidal ideation”.</p><h2>Electronic tags and 'overbilling'</h2><p>The questioning then moved onto electronic monitoring and G4S overbilling the Ministry of Justice. Almanza said it was important to understand that electronic monitoring services covered the “tracking of products and goods”. He said they will continue to offer it for prisoners as well as for goods and look for new markets. I didn’t note the exact wording but I remember feeling very uncomfortable at the implication that prisoners were simply “goods” to be tracked and monitored.</p> <h2><br />Human rights</h2> <p>One shareholder highlighted G4S’s claim to be a leading company when it came to human rights. She asked what assurances the Board could provide that human rights and civil liberties are a priority — and asked what individual members of the Board are specifically doing to protect human rights and civil liberties.</p> <p>Clare Spottiswoode (a non executive director and chair of the G4S Corporate Social Responsibility Committee who takes £81,500 per year for her part-time G4S job) was invited to respond by John Connolly. She said that “human rights are central to our work” and that the company aims to “spread good human rights work wherever we go”.</p> <p>Shareholder, David Scott who had raised a number of questions about the company’s commitment and record on human rights, asked whether G4S could guarantee a focus on human rights in next year’s annual report. Almost two hours into the meeting, John Connolly, said yes, they would take that as a recommendation from the meeting and consider conducting a human rights audit.</p> <p><span>After two hours of shareholder questions, the chairman then attempted to bring the meeting to a close. At this point a number of shareholders, who had largely posed questions on G4S’s role in Israel, began to shout and disrupt the proceedings. One by one, people were dragged out by the G4S security staff.</span></p> <p>The first person removed from the meeting was a man shouting “shut down Yarl’s Wood” — referring to the notorious Bedfordshire detention centre run by Serco where G4S has provided health service since September 2014.</p><p>Following him, a woman in the process of being carried from the room had some of her clothes pulled from her body. Two other women who objected to this were escorted out. Another man was then dragged out, grabbing empty chairs as they removed him while shouting “you are all complicit in the worst human rights violations”.</p> <p>As the chairman read out the resolutions to be voted on, we could all clearly hear the same man chanting “G4S, shame on you” from outside the door.</p> <h2>Who is to blame?</h2> <p>The meeting was enlightening and frustrating. Clear answers were rarely provided by G4S to what were very direct questions from shareholders. The chairman, John Connolly, referred nearly all questions to Ashley Almanza. With the exception of Clare Spottiswoode, the rest of the board sat in almost complete silence. Staring at the room or down at their paperwork, I couldn’t work out whether this was boredom or embarrassment. They certainly appeared uncomfortable. When a shareholder challenged them on this — asking why no one else on the Board was asking questions&nbsp;— they continued to sit in silence.</p> <p>The key message from Almanza on questions relating to safety in prisons, deaths in custody, self-harm and the use of restraint was that they are part of wider problems in the criminal justice system. On one level, he is right — prisons are damaging institutions, no matter who runs them. However, it also felt like he was trying to avoid responsibility and evade blame for a catalogue of serious issues raised by shareholders.</p> <p>This prison industrial complex captures people. It punishes them. It damages people, their families and communities. It spits them back out. G4S and other companies are complicit in this – they do the dirty work of government whilst turning a profit. People are not “goods” to be transported, imprisoned and monitored. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is">British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-res">G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ruth-hopkins/g4s-abuses-in-south-african-prison-still-ignored">G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/nice-work-g4s-wins-118-million-guant-namo-contract">Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">G4S &amp; Serco fraud: Oops, we couldn&#039;t tell the difference between right and wrong</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Roberts Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:30:00 +0000 Rebecca Roberts 102874 at https://www.opendemocracy.net British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>• Omar Mateen, who killed 50 people in gay nightclub, was employed as armed guard by G4S.</li><li>• G4S guards have killed before.</li><li>• Company sells its expertise in vetting staff.</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo 2009 RGB JPG_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo 2009 RGB JPG_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="292" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The international security company G4S <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2016/06/12/Statement%20on%20Omar%20Mateen/">has confirmed that Omar Mateen</a>, who slaughtered 50 people in the Pulse LGBT nightclub, was one of their employees.</p> <p>“We are deeply shocked by this tragic event,” said the company's North America CEO John Kenning after the Orlando nightclub killings. “We can confirm that Omar Mateen had been employed by G4S since September 10th, 2007. Mateen was off-duty at the time of the incident. He was employed at a gated retirement community in South Florida.</p><p>“Mateen underwent company screening and background checks when he was recruited in 2007 and the check revealed nothing of concern. His screening was repeated in 2013 with no findings.<br /><br />“We are cooperating fully with all law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, as they conduct their investigations. In 2013, we learned that Mateen had been questioned by the FBI but that the enquiries were subsequently closed. We were not made aware of any alleged connections between Mateen and terrorist activities, and were unaware of any further FBI investigations.<br /><br />“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of this unspeakable tragedy, and their friends and families.”</p> <p>G4S claims expertise in vetting and screening employees: “A robust employee screening programme helps organisations minimise the risk of making inappropriate recruitment decisions,” G4S <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/What%20we%20do/Services/Investigative%20services/Screening%20and%20vetting%20services/">tells potential customers</a>. “We have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing background checks and security clearance for companies in the private and public sector.”</p> <p>But time and again racist, misogynist and otherwise dangerous people have slipped through the company’s own screening process and been given power over vulnerable people. Repeatedly the company’s readiness to act in response to warnings has been found wanting.</p> <h2>Khanokporn Satjawat —&nbsp;murdered by G4S guard, November 2012 &nbsp;</h2> <p>In November 2012 a 42 year-old pharmaceutical worker from Thailand took part in a conference about HIV treatment&nbsp;at&nbsp;Glasgow’s&nbsp;Clyde Auditorium. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">Her name was&nbsp;Khanokporn Satjawat</a>. A G4S guard checked&nbsp;Satjawat’s&nbsp;ID. He didn’t like her manner. Later he followed her into the toilets and bludgeoned her to death with a fire extinguisher.</p> <p>At the High Court in Glasgow in October 2013, Clive Carter was found guilty of Khanokporn Satjawat’s murder. <a href="http://news.stv.tv/west-central/246102-clive-carter-has-been-found-guilty-of-murdering-secc-delegate/">The court heard</a> that the huge&nbsp;G4S guard (six foot five)&nbsp;tended to become enraged when women contradicted him. In a police interview his wife described the&nbsp;35 year-old&nbsp;as “violent and manipulative”.&nbsp;His GP had referred him for anger management counselling.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Khanokporn Satjawat_5_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Khanokporn Satjawat_5_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="238" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Khanokporn Satjawat</span></span></span>A few days before the killing, Carter had knocked on a woman’s door at the Holiday Inn Express hotel,&nbsp;carrying a fire extinguisher and&nbsp;claiming there had been a report of a fire.</p> <p>In response to my questions after the murder verdict, a G4S spokesperson said:</p> <p>“Clive Carter passed screening in May 2010, following receipt of two employment references and two character references. He had a Security Industry Authority license and therefore went through Home Office screening including a criminal record check.”</p> <p>The company went on:</p> <p>“His instability only became apparent after the murder . . . The incident at the Holiday Inn was not reported to G4S and only came to our attention during the trial. Had we received any complaint concerning him at that time, we would have immediately launched an investigation and if necessary suspended him from duty whilst that investigation was underway.”</p> <p>But G4S’s readiness to act in response to warnings of risk has repeatedly been found wanting.</p> <h2>Jimmy Mubenga unlawfully killed by G4S guards, October 2010&nbsp;</h2> <p>In July 2013 in London an inquest jury found that G4S guards had unlawfully killed Jimmy Mubenga during an attempted deportation in October 2010. Jimmy Mubenga was a healthy 46 year old and the father of five children.</p> <p>After the killing, on a British Airways plane at London’s Heathrow airport, police checks on guards’ mobile phones revealed <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">numerous racist texts that were extremely offensive</a>.&nbsp;Assistant deputy coroner Karon Monaghan QC said that the quality and number of racist texts, and the fact that they were circulated widely among G4S guards, suggested not a couple of “rotten apples” but evidence of “a more pervasive racism within G4S”. [<a href="http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/reports/Mubenga_R43.pdf">PDF here</a>]</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MUBENGA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MUBENGA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jimmy Mubenga</span></span></span></p><p>The coroner wrote: “For example, one message read as follows: ‘fuck off and go home you free-loading, benefit grabbing, kid producing, violent, non-English speaking cock suckers and take those hairy faced, sandal wearing, bomb making, goat fucking, smelly rag&nbsp;head bastards with you.’”</p><p>The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">racist texts were withheld from jurors</a> who found three G4S guards not guilty of manslaughter in December 2014.&nbsp;</p> <p>G4S, among other UK government contractors, had for years been warned about the dangers of excessive force and guards’ racist abuse, most resoundingly in a dossier compiled by medics and lawyers entitled <a href="http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/about/mj-reports/411-qoutsourcing-abuseq-report-140708.html">Outsourcing Abuse</a>, published by the charity Medical Justice in July 2008, more than two years before the killing of Jimmy Mubenga.</p> <h2>G4S man Danny Fitzsimons kills 2, August 2009</h2> <p>Another G4S employee approved by the company’s screening process was Danny Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper passed fit for work in Iraq while he was on bail for firearms offences and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.</p> <p>Ahead of Fitzsimons’s deployment in 2009, a fellow worker <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-19730387">sent a series of emails</a> warning G4S about the man’s instability.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public,” wrote the whistleblower, signing one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.</p> <p>Another email warned:</p> <p>“Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust. I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”</p> <p>Within 36 hours of arriving in Baghdad’s Green Zone in August 2009, Fitzsimons had shot and killed fellow security contractors Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare.</p> <p>In 2011 the Karkh Criminal Court of Iraq sentenced him to life in prison for the murders.</p> <p>His parents said <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/28/danny-fitzsimons-jailed-iraq-murders">he was suffering from PTSD</a> and should never have been employed in a war zone.</p> <p>Clive Stafford Smith, <a href="http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/2011_02_28dannyfitzsimonslifeimprisonment/">director of the charity Reprieve</a>, said:</p> <p>“If G4S had done the proper checks and risk assessments when Danny applied to work with them, they would have quickly seen that he was suffering from serious PTSD, a consequence of loyally serving his country. Instead they conducted minimal checks and sent him off to Iraq. Now Danny could spend the rest of his life in a hostile prison hundreds of miles from home, when he should be receiving psychiatric treatment.”&nbsp;</p><p>Reporters at BBC Scotland who revealed the emailed warnings also discovered that the company had carried out <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-27594094">two audits five months before the shooting</a> which found shortcomings in its screening and vetting systems.</p> <h2>Gareth Myatt, 15, dies “under restraint” by G4S guards, 2004</h2> <p>In 2004, a boy called <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Gareth Myatt was restrained to death</a> by G4S guards at Rainsbrook child prison near Rugby, England. He was 15 years old, of mixed race, small for his age and weighed just 40kg.</p> <p>One of the guards involved in the restraint was six foot tall Dave Beadnall, who weighed 100kg. An inquest held in 2007 heard that when Gareth complained: “I can’t breathe”, Beadnall responded: “if you can talk then you can breathe.”&nbsp;</p> <p>When Gareth said he was going to defecate, he was told: “you are going to have to shit yourself”, and the restraint continued.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400_0_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400_0_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="168" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>The inquest heard that one year before Gareth died, David Beadnall had been <a href="http://www.communitycare.co.uk/articles/15/03/2007/103801/myatt-officer-investigated-for-previous-restraint-inquest.htm">investigated</a> for overuse of pain-inducing ‘distraction techniques’. Beadnall told the inquest he had no recollection of that.</p> <p>G4S training documents listed guards’ nicknames. They included “Clubber”, “Crusher” and “Mauler”.&nbsp;</p> <p>An inquest jury ruled that Gareth’s death was “accidental”. </p><p>After the inquest, the coroner, Judge Pollard <a href="http://inquest.gn.apc.org/pdf/myatt_rule43report.pdf">wrote personally to then justice secretary Jack Straw</a> to ensure that no other child should be harmed by improper restraint methods, and to highlight the remarkable failure of G4S’s management to act on reports of abuses. (The coroner refers to Rebound, the division of G4S responsible for Rainsbrook).</p> <p>“Inadequacy in the monitoring of the use of Physical Control in Care at Rainsbrook by Rebound management caused or contributed to Gareth’s death,” wrote the coroner. “We also wish to record that there was a problem with the lack of response by Rebound to the information from Rainsbrook.”</p> <p>Three years ago I revealed that since Gareth’s death <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Dave Beadnall had been promoted</a> and was working as health and safety manager for G4S children’s homes. A G4S spokeswoman told me: “His current role does not involve any direct contact with young people.”</p><p>Questions regarding the company’s culture and competence are frequent and grave.</p><p>In October 2013 the South African prison authorities&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/09/g4s-sacked-south-africa-prison-mangaung">took over management of the Mangaung</a>&nbsp;maximum security prison run by G4S after the security company “lost control” of the prison. G4S&nbsp;<a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/media%20centre/news/2013/10/28/mangaung/">strongly denied allegations</a>&nbsp;that it had&nbsp;forcibly administered medication and electric shock treatment to Mangaung inmates.</p> <p>In England this year Kent police have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for-g4s-chil">made 11 arrests</a> in relation to abuse allegations after the BBC’s Panorama programme<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35287765">&nbsp;broadcast undercover footage</a>&nbsp;of children at Medway Secure Training Centre being subjected to physical and emotional abuse by G4S guards.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-res">G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsource">Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ruth-hopkins/g4s-abuses-in-south-african-prison-still-ignored">G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Mon, 13 Jun 2016 06:54:11 +0000 Clare Sambrook 102899 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How many children are sexually abused in prison? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In England nobody is counting. How official secrecy and obfuscation on sexual abuse, restraint and injury put children at risk. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for-g4s-chil">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a>.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESE.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Ministry of Justice: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (2014/15)</span></span></span></p><p>A ground-breaking review of child abuse was published last month. It describes children being coerced, controlled, humiliated, intimidated, degraded and bullied. Children who complained of mistreatment were not believed because there was no CCTV evidence to back them up. Self-harming children were watched even when taking a shower or visiting the toilet. Punishments included banning children from eating in the dining room. This was the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/medway-improvement-board-report-and-moj-response-to-its-recommendations">report of the Medway Improvement Board</a>, established by justice minister Michael Gove in the wake of BBC Panorama’s programme, ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ymzly">Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed</a>’, about the G4S-run prison for 12 to 17 year-olds. </p> <p>The Improvement Board’s investigation is impressive on many counts, though what is striking is that this could have been a report about a school, a hospital or a children’s home, about your children or mine. The metanarratives of child prisoners being violent, damaged and out of control are to the margins of this report, and the dominant representations are of children in search of dignity, safety, fairness and adults they can trust. </p> <p>One young person told the board of an incident where a child who self-harmed “was left in his room with like nothing and he couldn’t speak English and he doesn’t know where his family are so he was just all alone with no-one and nothing”. The board observes the “irony that a young person being held in an STC [secure training centre] was able to articulate this concern, but that all of the professionals … did not seem to understand the impact of such a policy”.</p> <p>I am a children’s rights campaigner and registered social worker, with a long record of pressing for laws and polices that uphold the dignity and worth of children. Since I served on Lord Carlile’s independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, I have submitted several hundred freedom of information (FOI) requests on various aspects of child incarceration. </p><p>This is more than 11 years of politely asking public bodies to publish material the layperson might assume was already in the public domain. Information that would be useful to families, social workers and youth offending team workers visiting children in prison, to help raise awareness of the dangers and hopefully prompt safeguarding conversations that would otherwise not occur. Judges passing custodial sentences, and remanding to custody, could be reasonably expected, also, to keep abreast of what actually happens to children ‘sent down’. Then there are the wider goals of holding the powerful to account, and standing up for children.</p> <p>So I have asked about sexual assaults, strip-searching, self-harm, restraint injuries, abuse allegations, complaints, sackings, damages paid to child prisoners, and sought the publication of internal reports on children’s bones breaking during restraint. Every response is meant to be published on official websites (it’s not always); my book, <a href="https://policypress.co.uk/children-behind-bars"><em>Children behind bars</em></a>, organises the material into different chapters according to the harm caused to children.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.*ARM—THROAT.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.*ARM—THROAT.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: restraint of child at Rainsbrook secure training centre (2014/15 report)</span></span></span></p> <p>Each new response invariably elicits an emotional reaction. First, there is the upset that comes from imagining vulnerable children in situations of powerlessness and fear. Second, incredulity that we subject children to such treatment, and amazement too when I am told, frequently, that vital data is collected by nobody.</p> <p>Next comes dismay at the public servants who use their human ingenuity to maintain secrecy. Sometimes I feel sad, dumbfounded and disgusted all at once, like when I was sent data on sexual assaults in juvenile young offender institutions. I asked for the number of assaults between 2009 and 2013. The table provided, minus any actual figures, showed sexual assaults by child prisoners had occurred at least once every year, but the frequency was masked by asterisk marks. </p><p>The justification? Low numbers and fear of breaching data protection legislation, a reason I’ve been given many times before. Indeed, G4S invoked the same excuse when refusing the Youth Justice Board monitor at Medway unfettered access to CCTV footage, a position the Improvement Board inevitably found to be legally untenable.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/4.*BREATHING DIFFICULTIES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/4.*BREATHING DIFFICULTIES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="122" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BREATHING DIFFICULTIES: restraining children with asthma (2013/14 report)</span></span></span></div><p> <br /> Accessing sexual assaults data in respect of officers proved impossible, since I was told: “The assaults data does not specifically include a category for&nbsp;sexual assaults by staff on prisoners.”</p><p>Information about officers assaulting children was buried in the ‘other’ category and a single asterisk mark indicated at least one occurrence in 2010.</p><p>Presumably this was <a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">not the officer with a 30-year career in the prison service who sexually assaulted a boy “at every opportunity”</a> when the child was incarcerated at Warren Hill Young Offenders Institution, because these crimes occurred in 2008 (though the officer was jailed in 2010)? Did the incident occur at Downview women’s prison, I pondered, because separate FOIs had elicited at least one child had been sexually abused there? </p><p>What I could be sure of was that the one or more incidents in 2010 did not tally with the separate data I obtained from the prisons inspectorate. This revealed that children had told inspectors on 15 separate occasions they had been sexually abused by prison staff — these allegations were made in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.*OFF-CAMERA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.*OFF-CAMERA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="157" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>OFF CAMERA: restraints carried out away from CCTV (2013/14 report)</span></span></span></p><p>In another FOI, which went to internal review (the process to follow when FOIs are refused), I was told six officers had been disciplined for an “inappropriate relationship with a prisoner/ex prisoner” in child prisons, in 2011/12 and 2012/13. </p><p>The Sexual Offences Act 2003 created a new offence of abuse of position of trust, so the prison service’s terminology is archaic.&nbsp;Even before 2003, you would be hard-pushed to find a childcare setting where a staff member having an “inappropriate relationship” with a child would be seen as anything other than sexual exploitation. </p><p>This appalling cloaking of abuse by the prison service will, I expect, be of great interest to the <a href="https://www.iicsa.org.uk">Goddard Inquiry</a> into institutions’ failure to protect children from sexual abuse. </p><p>That no single statutory body collates children’s complaints of abuse cannot, of course, wait for Dame Lowell Goddard’s conclusions in several years’ time. This must change immediately. &nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RAINSBROOK LONG.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RAINSBROOK LONG.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="724" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Rainsbrook (2014/15 report)</span></span></span>Not all of the disclosures I have obtained would invite condemnation from human rights bodies or be of interest to undercover reporters. But they are unsettling. </p><p>Take the report I obtained from the Youth Justice Board, which was an independent review of food in young offender institutions for children aged 15 to 17. This revealed that five of nine child prisons didn’t have their own kitchen: food was prepared and transported from adjoining adult prisons. </p><p>How could it be possible, in 2013, for an institution looking after children 24 hours a day not to have a kitchen? That’s shocking to me.</p> <p>A visit to Serco-run Hassockfield secure training centre, in Durham, as a member of the Carlile Inquiry team, got me started on FOI requests. The centre director showed us a form on which custody officers recorded their use of “distractions” —&nbsp;the official euphemism for severe assaults to a child’s nose, ribs or thumb. </p><p>I thought we had uncovered a major abuse scandal, right there on our very first visit, until the director assured us these were, in fact, officially authorised restraint techniques. To be lawful, they could be applied only in extremely grave situations when no other intervention was possible. </p><p>My first FOI revealed these extreme, last resort techniques were used 768 times in a single year in four secure training centres. They were routine, in other words. <br /> <br /> Three years passed before the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the charity I then ran, achieved full disclosure of the training manual which showed many other violent restraint methods. One of the reasons given by the Youth Justice Board against publication was that animal rights activists and political extremists could get hold of the manual, and develop restraint countermeasures. </p> <p>Really? </p> <p>The Information Commissioner’s Office ordered full disclosure, but the Youth Justice Board appealed. A few days before the tribunal hearing, we got a call to say the manual would be published, after all. It was uploaded onto the <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20101016193540/http://www.justice.gov.uk/">Ministry of Justice website in October 2010</a>. </p><p>Then, in July 2012, a new system of behaviour management in child prisons, called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), was launched. The manual containing the MMPR restraint techniques has 182 redactions. </p><p>By this time, I had left CRAE and was researching <em>Children behind bars</em>. I requested full disclosure of the techniques and, nearly four years later, I am presently seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. </p><p>The same assertions made between 2007 and 2010 — that prisoners would use the information to subvert restraint and therefore prison security — have been recycled by the Ministry of Justice. This is despite former Labour ministers accepting <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/347262/Government_Response_to_Use_of_Restraint_in_Juvenile_Secure_Settings.pdf">the recommendation that children, parents and carers be informed of restraint methods (rec 43, page 15)</a>, made by the independent review it established after the restraint-related deaths of two children.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTIONSSERIOUSINJURY_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTIONSSERIOUSINJURY_1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="186" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: serious injuries (2014/15 report)</span></span></span></p><p>My legal representation is pro bono to date and I pay all of my own travel and other expenses. The taxpayer fully funds the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. There has never been any answer to my argument that statutory safeguarding bodies and professionals cannot effectively monitor the use of restraint, or investigate children’s complaints, without knowledge of the official techniques.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3.A.*WARNING SIGNS 2014-2015 (16dec2015) copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3.A.*WARNING SIGNS 2014-2015 (16dec2015) copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: warning signs (2014/15 report)</span></span></span>Prisons are required to report to a national team restraints that cause children to lose consciousness, struggle to breathe, vomit and suffer other symptoms of asphyxiation, or be seriously injured. In May 2015, I requested the two annual reports that had been compiled to date. The&nbsp;Ministry of Justice&nbsp;released the first report but said the 2014/15 one would be finalised in July, so I made a second request in August. It was still not ready, so I asked again in November. </p><p>The following month, a heavily redacted report arrived in my inbox. Who, I wonder, was given the task of blanking out virtually every reference to child harm?&nbsp;The official excuse for this obfuscation was that the Youth Justice Board planned to publish the statistics at the end of January 2016.</p><p> But, to my frustration, when the annual youth justice statistics were released on 28 January they didn’t contain the anticipated data. Only a limited number of restraint injuries were included; statistics about children’s breathing being compromised were absent altogether. My request to the ministry for an internal review was met with silence, so I complained to the&nbsp;Information Commissioner’s Office.&nbsp;I received the report in April 2016, 11 months after the first request. The date on the front cover, June 2015, proved it had been finalised at the time of my second request. </p><p>A covering letter claimed the data had been incorporated into the routinely published annual statistics. This was simply untrue: these figures have never included warning signs, and restraint injuries only become candidates for routine publication if children were taken to hospital or received medical treatment within the prison. </p><p>When children are injured during restraint but receive no medical intervention, these incidents are kept from the official statistics. This is why the Observer newspaper was able to report <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/13/young-offenders-institution-restraint-injuries">in February</a> that the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;had omitted 3,312 child restraint injuries from its published figures between 2010 and 2014. </p><p>The incident in G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20February%202015%20%28PDF%29.pdf">discovered by inspectors in February 2015</a>, when a child with a fractured wrist caused by restraint was left for 15 hours before being taken to hospital, comes to mind.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESCROP1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESCROP1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (2014/15)</span></span></span></div><p> The report eventually released to me shows there were 65 serious restraint incidents in 2014/15, with 71 warning signs and symptoms, a 31% increase on the previous year (with the same number of prisons). There were 37 incidents when a child had difficulty breathing or complained&nbsp; of being unable to breathe in 2014/15; 4 serious physical injuries; 6 incidents when a child vomited whilst kept under restraint; 8 incidents when restraint led to a petechial rash (haemorrhage); 11 incidents when a child lost consciousness or suffered reduced consciousness; and 5 incidents listed as ‘other’.</p><p>The Guardian newspaper published the data under the headline, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/05/restraint-injuries-youth-jails-rainsbrook-gareth-myatt">‘Restraint injuries persist at youth jail where boy died 12 years ago’</a>, referring to the restraint death of 15 year-old Gareth Myatt in G4S-run Rainsbrook. A week after this newspaper coverage, the prisons minister, Andrew Selous, said this in <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-18/22857/">answer to a parliamentary question</a> tabled four months before:<br /> <br /> <em>“Since the SIWS [serious incidents and warning signs] system has only been rolled out in a few institutions gradually, this is not currently routinely published but we are considering the routine publication of all SIWS data in the future.”</em></p><p>That the government is now “considering” regular release of the data shows the value of persistence. It also screams institutional inertia — still <em>thinking</em> about routine publication after 11 months of FOI to-ing and fro-ing, parliamentary prodding and a Panorama programme which shocked the nation? </p><p>Transparency is a critical child protection tool because it allows circuits of collusion (conscious and unconscious) to be broken. The greater the secrecy, the more children are at risk. </p><p>I felt tearful turning the pages of the Medway Improvement Board’s report. This is the first official document, out of the many hundreds I’ve read, where child prisoners are discussed as if they really are children, with the same fundamental rights as those enjoying life in the community. The report firmly rejects the received wisdom that punishment and subjugation bring about change; and it truthfully and skillfully lays bare the failures of adults. With not a single redacted word.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><h2>Note:</h2><li>The top image is a composite, comprising 3 redactions. All other images show text and redactions from:</li><li>Ministry of Justice National Offender Management Service documents: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR)</li><li>Annual Report on Serious Injuries and Warning Signs and Medical Exceptions Report.</li></ul><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/children-in-trouble-punishment-or-welfare">Children in trouble: punishment or welfare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/rotherham-s-sex-abuse-scandal-reveals-failure-at-heart-of-government">Rotherham’s sex abuse scandal reveals failure at the heart of government</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 09 Jun 2016 11:15:17 +0000 Carolyne Willow 102632 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Children tell inspectors of being verbally, physically and sexually abused. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo usedJUNE2006.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo usedJUNE2006.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="292" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Yesterday Kent police investigating alleged abuse at Medway child prison, run by G4S, <a href="http://www.maidstoneandmedwaynews.co.uk/G4s-arrests-detained-reports-abuse-youth-centre/story-29375708-detail/story.html">made five more arrests</a>. The same day a <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/hmyoi-parc-juvenile-unit-2/">report by prisons inspectors</a> revealed that a child at another G4S prison, Parc, in Bridgend, Wales, had been strip searched while held under restraint, one guard had been dismissed for using “excessive force”, and children reported being verbally, physically and sexually abused.</p> <p>G4S-run Medway secure training centre has been under close scrutiny since <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35287765">BBC Panorama broadcast undercover footage</a>, in January, of children there being subject to physical and emotional abuse. This latest inspection report concerns the juvenile unit of an adult prison run by the same company. Inspectors visited the prison on the day of the Panorama programme, and stayed for 11 days.&nbsp;</p> <p>Use of force by prison officers had tripled in Parc’s juvenile unit since the last inspection — there were 202 incidents in the previous six months, compared to 67 last time. In every incident, officers from the adjoining adult prison were called to carry out the restraint. Inspectors complain that the officers do not know the children. They would not have been recruited for their expertise in working with children either.</p><p> Inspectors found a case where a child had been strip-searched whilst held under restraint — again, this would have been by officers working in the adult parts of the prison. “Pain compliant locks” were used on children: the prisons inspectorate, alongside many other bodies, including the UN Committee Against Torture, has repeatedly said the deliberate infliction of pain should not be permitted in children’s prisons. One officer had been dismissed shortly before the announced inspection, for using “excessive force” on a child.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All I asked you to do was clean this fucking door and you aint!' G4S Medway officer to boy, age 14 (BBC Panorama)</span></span></span></p><p>Some boys complained of officers restraining them away from CCTV, which has been reported by children across the secure estate for many years. After the G4S Medway child abuse scandal, the Youth Justice Board introduced body-worn cameras into all child prisons. Inspectors complain that there were not enough of them to ensure all incidents were captured. More evidence of the irrepressible penal culture. <br /> <br /> About half the boys in this juvenile prison were looked after children, underlining the revolving door between care and custody highlighted powerfully by the <a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/ProjectsResearch/CareReview">Laming Review</a>. Inspectors report: “Many boys had low levels of education and presented with clear difficulties in expressing their anxieties and problems; this was often characterised by angry outbursts or self isolation.” Prison cannot provide these children with the skilled intervention they need. </p> <p>Three boys were refusing to come out of their cells because they were so frightened, and 7 boys (a quarter of those questioned) told inspectors they felt unsafe everywhere.&nbsp;</p><p> Eight children told inspectors they had been verbally insulted by officers, and there was one report each of physical abuse and sexual abuse by staff. Seven children said they had suffered physical abuse by other children.</p> <p>Where is that government intolerance of poorly performing children’s services, when you need it?</p><p>At the end of February, G4S announced it would be selling its children’s services, including its government contracts to run Oakhill and Medway secure training centres.</p> <p>Today’s inspection report is a reminder that the multinational has not completely surrendered looking after UK child prisoners. For it is not G4S Children’s Services that manages this contract, but G4S Central Government Services.&nbsp;</p><p> At the last inspection, in May 2014, the company was handed 31 recommendations and 7 of these had been achieved by the time inspectors visited again in January 2016. More than half (58%) had not been achieved at all. Only one of four recommendations in respect of children’s safety had been achieved.</p><p> As child prisons go, this inspection report delivers some positive news. Children are eating together in dining areas, they get some (limited) time in the fresh air each day, most are able to shower daily, they have telephones in their cells (though calls are expensive) and there are good quality educational resources. But this cannot detract from the prison environment and ethos, and the consequences for children’s safety and well-being.</p><p>Inspectors praised the “newly refurbished and restocked” prison library, which has “a good stock of easy readers, books based on popular films and games”. The report from Charlie Taylor’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-the-youth-justice-system">Youth Justice Review</a> is due to be published next month. A teacher by trade, Taylor is sure to see the absurdity of buying in easy reader books whilst holding children in locked cells for hours at a time, keeping them in permanent states of fear and delegating control and discipline to prison officers working with adults.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:43:53 +0000 Carolyne Willow 102829 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/ghosted-away-uk-s-secret-removal-flights-examined <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On Home Office flights private sector guards apply restraints so extreme they are very rarely used in prisons. What happened on the 24/25 May flight to Nigeria and Ghana?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/plane bus.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/plane bus.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p><p class="western">Lately one Australian family’s immigration case and prospect of forced removal from the UK made front-page news across Scottish national newspapers, was discussed in the House of Commons, picked up by <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/30/australian-family-in-scotland-win-reprieve-from-deportation">The Guardian</a>, The Independent, the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3618903/Hard-working-Australian-family-threatened-deportation-claim-set-fail-continue-battle-remain-UK.html">Daily Mail</a>, and BBC News — resulting in a job offer that might help keep the family here, and a crowdfunder page that has raised more than £4000. </p> <p class="western">In the same week, around 100 people were torn from their long-standing communities in the UK and forcibly removed to a country from which they fled, or hadn’t lived in for up to 20 years. Of these people, their family, their friends, their distress, the fate that awaits them, there is no public awareness, nor any media reporting. With the exception of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light at openDemocracy</a>, no journalists or media outlets picked up the multiple press releases widely issued by <a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/">The Unity Centre</a> in the lead up to the flight.</p> <p class="western">In the early hours of Wednesday 25 May —&nbsp;at 1am —&nbsp;a delayed private charter plane left Stansted airport, bound for Nigeria and Ghana. The UK government does not publicly reveal the location of departure (even to detainees who are set to be on the plane). The flight itself does not appear on airport flight schedules or online as a planned flight. However, we can reveal that the contracted airline is Titan Airways. </p> <p class="western">Who were the passengers? </p> <p class="western">During the previous weeks, hundreds of people with refused asylum and human rights claims were detained in preparation for the flight. We heard reports from inside the UK’s “detention estate” that around 300 people had been issued removal directions for this particular charter flight.</p><h2>Operation Majestic</h2> <p class="western">The overbooking of seats reflects the Home Office imperative to fill the flight, regardless of people’s individual cases. “Reserve” detainees go through the normal removal procedures, say their goodbyes, are kept on coaches — but don’t know whether or not they’ll be removed until after the flight has left. This practice has been condemned repeatedly by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, as <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/05/2013-Pakistan-escort-web.pdf">lacking in humanity and “unacceptable”.</a></p> <p class="western">The UK government’s policy of forcibly removing people en masse via private charter flights to Nigeria and Ghana (and sometimes Sierra Leone) goes by the code-name “Operation Majestic”.</p><p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane big.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane big.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="261" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p> <p class="western">Commonly, between 60 and 80 people are accompanied by commercially contracted security guards. On the charter flight of May 24/25 this company was <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/home-office-contractors-expected-to-lie-inspection-reveals/">Tascor</a>. Standard practice is <a href="http://www.no-deportations.org.uk/">2 security guards for every detainee</a>, with no independent witnesses or monitoring groups aboard.</p> <p class="western">Between January and March 2016, 438 men and and 23 women were forcibly removed from the UK on a total of 10 charter flights, according to a Home Office response to a Freedom of Information request by John O (FOI 39552, 2 June 2016). The number of private security guards totalled 875. The destinations: Pakistan, Albania, Nigeria and Ghana.</p> <p class="western">On fewer than three flights per year, prisons inspectors are aboard. Reporting on <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/escort-and-removals-to-jamaica-24-25-march-2011/">a removal to Jamaica in 2011</a>, when there were 104 guards from the security company G4S and 35 detainees, the inspectors wrote: “the sheer numbers of staff created an inevitably intimidating atmosphere, regardless of how they conducted themselves. This effect was significantly aggravated by the loud behaviour of a few staff.” Two of the people being removed told inspectors they had lived in the UK for 27 and 36 years respectively. One woman said she had lived in the UK for 12 years and was leaving her 18-year old daughter behind.</p> <p>On a <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/detainees-under-escort-inspection-of-escort-and-removals-to-sri-lanka-6-7-december-2012-by-hm-chief-inspector-of-prisons/">removal flight to Sri Lanka</a> in December 2012, 72 guards from the security company Reliance (now called Tascor) and 3 medics escorted 29 detainees on the 19 hour journey. Prisons inspectors reported: “There were too many escort staff with little or nothing to do.” The people being removed included a person in a wheelchair who was brain damaged, and a 67 year old woman who “had boarded the flight before receiving confirmation of an injunction preventing her removal”.</p><h2>Restraints too extreme for prison</h2> <p>Reporting on a removal to Nigeria and Ghana that took place in November 2013, when there were 82 guards for 42 detainees, <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/04/nigeria-ghana-escorts-2013-rps.pdf">inspectors wrote</a>: “some ways of working had become entrenched, for which there was little justification. These included keeping handcuffs on for much longer than necessary; holding detainees by the arm in secure areas; searching in locations without any privacy; denying privacy to detainees using the toilet; and withholding facilities such as pillows, blankets and hot drinks during an overnight flight without regard to evidence of risk in the individual case. There were deficiencies in the recording and communication of information about risk, which is essential when detainees are being passed from the care of one contractor to another during a very stressful series of events.” </p> <p>Inspectors didn’t join a flight to Nigeria and Ghana again until July 2015. What had changed? &nbsp;<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/Nigeria-Ghana-final-web-2015.pdf">The inspectors wrote</a>: “We repeat almost exactly the same points in this report.”&nbsp; </p> <p>They went on: “waist restraint belts had replaced handcuffs, and officers no longer routinely held detainees’ arms within secure detention centres. There was a risk that waist restraint belts, which were now embedded in practice, were being overused and applied whenever there was any ground for supposing that the person might not cooperate during the boarding of the coach or aircraft. They were used on eight detainees during this operation. When the wrists are in the close position (i.e. tight to the hips) they are almost equivalent to body belts, the most extreme and very rarely used, mechanical restraints available in prisons.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/just plane.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mass removal flight from UK, 2013 (James Bridle booktwo.org)</span></span></span></p> <p class="western">Detainees tell us that many are held in solitary confinement the night (or two) before a charter flight —perhaps an attempt by the Home Office to avoid collective resistance. Last month one person in detention awaiting forced removal on a charter flight to Pakistan told us: “Yesterday we moved to the short stay side of the centre and they closed our room door at 8pm and then didn’t open…I can’t stay one more night in that room, I am sure I will die because the room is so small and we are two boys in there.” </p> <p class="western">Detainees were packed into coaches the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May. By early evening their phones were switched off — making it difficult for detainees to contact their solicitor or support groups regarding any legal avenues still available that may stop them from being removed.</p><h2>Collective expulsion</h2> <p class="western">Those who were forcibly removed on the 24th/25th include a woman who was served with a refusal of her fresh asylum claim whilst she was waiting for the coach to arrive at Yarl’s Wood (the notorious Bedfordshire detention centre) — indicating the regular Home Office practice of preparing to remove people before their asylum claim has even been legally exhausted. She told us that she was subsequently denied access to the library by members of staff and thus was unable to pursue a judicial review to challenge the refusal of her fresh asylum claim. &nbsp;</p> <p class="western">We do not know whether a judicial review might have stopped her forced removal. The Home Office state that due to the “effort and expense” of a charter flight, a judicial review may not necessarily defer removal.</p> <p class="western">This case demonstrates how one’s nationality (identified by the Home Office) determines who is on a charter flight — regardless of the different stages that people are at within the asylum/immigration process. It challenges David Wood’s<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5374109/Asylum-airlines-your-one-way-flight-to-deportation.html"> claim</a>, asserted whilst acting as UK Border Agency Director of Enforcement, that charter flights are specifically for “difficult” individuals — raising questions about <a href="https://corporatewatch.org/sites/default/files/Collective-Expulsion-report.pdf">collective expulsion</a>.</p> <p class="western">Others removed on the charter flight included a man from the LGBT community, who was forced to leave behind his partner in the UK, and who told us he faces violence and imprisonment upon return to Ghana. </p> <p class="western">Unable to access the legal surgery inside detention before his removal date due to extremely <a href="https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/bail-for-immigration-detainees-access-to-legal-advice-bid1.pdf">long waiting times</a>, he was forced to represent himself, not knowing the scale or depth of evidence needed to substantiate his claim. </p> <p class="western">Another man on the charter flight had come to the UK when he was 14 — but the Home Office failed to recognise him as a dependent of his mother (who now has British citizenship). And so 14 years later he has been forcibly removed from her, his siblings and long-term partner, to a country which he has no family in or memories of.</p> <p class="western">When asked for the number of passengers and reserves on the charter flight, the Home Office responded: “A removal flight to Nigeria and Ghana went ahead on 24 May as planned. We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”</p><p class="western">We do not know what forms of restraint were used on this flight, whether people were treated courteously, or, as has happened on previous flights, subjected to coarse language, excessive physical restraints and racist abuse. This is because there were no independent witnesses aboard and we have lost contact with the people being removed. It is particularly difficult to maintain contact after removal: upon arrival, many people are destitute or forced to go into hiding.</p> <p class="western">Detainees are calling for raised public awareness of the use of charter flights. One person who was deported from the UK last year told us: “It’s about 90 per cent of us that don't want to go, the other 10 per cent don't want to go either but they are tired of being humiliated so they say they are ready.”</p><hr /><p><strong>For more information on mass deportation charter flights, </strong><a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/mass-deportation-charter-flight-to-nigeria-and-ghana-set-for-may-24th/"><strong>see here</strong></a><strong>.</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p class="western"><strong>To get in touch,</strong> contact The Unity Centre at <a href="mailto:unitycentremedia@gmail.com">unitycentremedia@gmail.com</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/dozens-of-fathers-among-migrants-to-be-forcibly-deported-tonight">Dozens of fathers among migrants to be forcibly deported tonight</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/woman-stands-naked-on-airport-runway-takes-overdose">Woman stands naked on airport runway, takes overdose</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/jimmy-mubenga-and-shame-of-british-airways">Jimmy Mubenga and the shame of British Airways</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Lotte Lewis Mon, 06 Jun 2016 14:43:11 +0000 Lotte Lewis 102724 at https://www.opendemocracy.net G4S promises (again) to repaint asylum seeker red doors and relocate families at risk https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-promises-again-to-repaint-asylum-seeker-red-doors-and-reloc <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Four months after 'red doors' scandal broke, security company says it really will stop making asylum seekers’ homes so easy to locate and attack.</p> </div> </div> </div> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I plan to raise these issues in Parliament again and call for a Home office enquiry <a href="https://t.co/dtWEVXuZrT">https://t.co/dtWEVXuZrT</a></p>— Alex Cunningham (@ACunninghamMP) <a href="https://twitter.com/ACunninghamMP/status/735056046675333120">May 24, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Back in January I helped <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">The Times expose</a> racial abuse of asylum seekers whose landlords in the north east of England — the security company G4S and its subcontractor Jomast — had painted their front doors a distinctive red. &nbsp;</p> <p>People who had fled their home countries to escape persecution reported having dog excrement pushed through their letterboxes and graffiti daubed on their doors, because their homes were so easy to locate.</p> <p>There followed multiple media reports in the UK and abroad, parliamentary scrutiny and criticism, and the companies promised to repaint the offending doors swiftly. </p> <p>Juliet Halstead, head of housing at G4S, <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/robust-system-place-check-asylum-10787801">told the Teesside press on 25 January</a>, that repainting would be carried out “as soon as possible” in both Middlesbrough and Stockton.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racists">On Monday</a> we revealed that, regardless of all that, asylum seekers were still being targeted by racists, thanks to their red doors. One man living in Stockton on Teesside had emailed a volunteer worker in the early hours of last Friday morning to report that racists were banging on his door at 3.40AM: “I am so worried about this issue, it’s awful, because we fled from Isis to seek sanctuary here, not to face racism. The Jomast door is still painted a red colour,” he said.</p> <p>On Monday evening, I sent questions to G4S to ask why they had not repainted this man’s red door in January when the connection between red doors and racist assaults and abuse could not have been made clearer. I asked why they had defied instructions from Home Office minister James Brokenshire on 20 January to repaint red doors on Jomast properties, and further instructions from Brokenshire on 9 February after a Home Office audit of Jomast properties. Had they forgotten what he said?</p> <p>“<a href="http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/14264576.Red_doors_on_Middlesbrough_asylum_seekers__homes_was__inadvertent___Home_Office_review_concludes/?ref=mr&amp;lp=17">One of the clear recommendations</a> that came from our audit is that housing providers should ensure that properties used to accommodate asylum seekers cannot be easily identified either as a deliberate policy or inadvertently.” </p> <p>I also asked G4S why their executive John Whitwam and Jomast owner Stuart Monk had misled the Home Affairs committee on 26 January by pledging to repaint the red doors properties in “two weeks” [<a href="http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/0dca3772-f15a-434d-ae59-1ec153372066">video here: 5.31pm to 5.33pm</a>].&nbsp;</p> <p>Yesterday I received the following response from G4S. </p> <p>“We committed in January to repainting the doors of our asylum properties in Middlesbrough. This has been done. Beyond that we have repainted those doors in Stockton and Newcastle necessary to ensure that doors in those areas have a range of colours.&nbsp; We have also looked across our estate to confirm that asylum seekers are not identifiable by their door colour.”</p> <p>How thorough was that look across their estate? Here is a neglected G4S house in West Yorkshire which I complained about to G4S on 19 April this year:</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HOUSEMAY2016.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HOUSEMAY2016.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="533" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The G4S statement went on: “Since the issue raised by The Times in January, we have received one complaint about door colour attracting anti-social behaviour. However, should any of our service users feel that their door identifies them in a way which puts them or their family at risk, we will commit to repaint their door promptly and if necessary arrange relocation.”</p> <p>I also asked G4S yesterday if they would “apologise to the asylum seekers and refugees concerned in so far as the failure to repaint the red doors contributed to the targeting of the asylum seekers’ home.”</p> <p>I’m still waiting for a response to that.&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, prepares to raise the matter in Parliament. Again.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Wed, 25 May 2016 16:20:00 +0000 John Grayson 102441 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-man-25-at-remote-uk-i <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Day Two of the inquest into the death of Bruno Dos Santos.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne--HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne--HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Walkway, Verne immigration removal centre (HMIP) </span></span></span></p><p>A young man who died in immigration detention may have suffered a rare disease leading to his death, an inquest heard today.</p> <p>Bruno Dos Santo, 25, was found dead in his cell at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Portland on 4 June 2014. The jury inquest, sitting at Dorchester County Court, heard evidence that following a serious road accident aged 10 in 1998, Dos Santos experienced a change in personality, becoming more aggressive and suffered severe epileptic fits. He was depressed and had tried to take his own life.</p> <p>Dr Simon Rasbridge, the consultant pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination, said the anatomical cause of death was neurosarcoidosis, a form of inflammation of within parts of the brain. The jury inquest, sitting at Dorchester County Court, heard evidence that neurosarcoidosis is a rare disease and that its cause is unknown.</p> <p>Dr Rasbridge said that lesions were present in Dos Santos’s mid-brain, home to important centres that “keep your heart beating and keep you breathing”. He added: “Any disease process that affects this will have a profound effect on breathing or the heart beating.” Dr Rasbridge sent the lesions on to expert neuropathologist Dr Mark Walker to examine. The jury was told that Dr &nbsp;Walker had written a report which diagnosed neurosarcoidosis.</p> <p>Nick Brown, the barrister representing Dos Santos’s relatives, questioned the reliability of this diagnosis. Brown argued that Dr Walker’s report was couched in probabilities and that the language used suggested that the diagnosis was “not quite 100%”. Georgina Woolf, the lawyer representing the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service, interrupted Brown’s examination to ask whether the line of questioning had strayed beyond Dr Rasbridge’s expertise. &nbsp;</p> <p>Brown told the court that it was important to assess why neurosarcoidosis has been diagnosed, given the rarity of the disease and Dos Santos’s lack of symptoms of the disease before his death. In light of these facts, he said, Dr Walker’s report “does not provide confidence”. Brown added that this was especially important because there could be another cause of death: sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. </p> <p>Dr Rasbridge said there was no proof that epilepsy was the cause of death, but when questioned further said that in the absence of symptoms of neurosarcoidosis, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy could be a potential cause of Dos Santos’s death. </p> <p>At the time of his death, Dos Santos had been prescribed carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug, and anti-depressants. Police found two full packs of unused carbamazepine tablets, one half empty packet and a full pack of pain relief tablets. This suggests Dos Santos had missed several days of medication before he died, the court heard. </p> <p>Dr Mark Walker is due to give evidence on Thursday. </p> <p>The inquest continues.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Tue, 24 May 2016 23:00:05 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 102406 at https://www.opendemocracy.net G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-res <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Commercial partners G4S and Lincolnshire Police are jointly investigating fake emergency calls that made outsourcing look good.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three years ago the security company G4S boasted that it had radically improved emergency call handling times for Lincolnshire Police.&nbsp;</p><p>John Shaw, managing director for G4S policing support services, which took over the bulk of Lincolnshire’s operations in 2012,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-22338332">told the BBC</a>&nbsp;that with G4S involved: “Hopefully the service people get from the police is as good as it was, if not better.”</p><p>Today G4S admitted that it had suspended 5 members of staff working with Lincolnshire Police “following an investigation led by the force with support from G4S”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Screenshot 2016-05-23 16.15.01-.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Screenshot 2016-05-23 16.15.01-.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="239" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>2013: G4S boasts of improved performance on 999 calls</span></span></span></p> <p>G4S claimed it was cooperating with an investigation into “allegations that members of staff in the force control room made repeated 999 'test calls' at quiet times to improve perceived overall call handling performance.”</p> <p>Again John Shaw popped up, this time to <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2016/05/23/G4S%20disciplinary%20action%20against%20staff%20at%20Lincolnshire%20Police/">reassure the public</a>: “We have suspended 5 employees today and have taken swift action to begin our investigation process,” he said.</p> <p>Shaw claimed he was “dismayed that this group of staff sought to influence important performance measurements. We continue to work closely with the force and share any data and other information required.”</p> <p>Should the public trust G4S and Lincolnshire police to investigate? </p><p>Perhaps not. </p><p>The pair are commercial partners in a groundbreaking outsourcing contract, worth £200 million over ten years.</p><p>Just a few years ago G4S and its competitor Serco were caught <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">cheating the public purse out of tens of millions of pounds</a> on electronic tagging contracts.</p> <p>And the&nbsp;“world’s largest security company”&nbsp;&nbsp;has a long history of blaming rogue employees for corporate wrongdoing.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S-Lincolnshire-Police-Epaulette.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S-Lincolnshire-Police-Epaulette.jpg" alt="" title="" width="200" height="208" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S Lincolnshire police epaulette</span></span></span></p><p>After G4S <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsourcer">cooked a prisoner to death</a> in the back of an overheated van in Western Australia in January 2008, the company tried to lay the blame on two detainee custody officers.</p> <p>When the Western Australia <a href="http://www.safecom.org.au/pdfs/ward-inquest2009-alastair_hope-findings.pdf">State Coroner</a> found in June 2009 that the State, the company and the workers had all contributed to the man’s death, Tim Hall, G4S’s mouthpiece in Australia, insisted on national television that the company’s procedures “<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2599566.htm">were not totally inadequate. Why this incident happened was because two officers disobeyed an instruction they were given to stop every two hours</a>.”</p> <p>G4S and other outsourcers use performance figures to push the case for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2013/06/24/UK%20Policing%20Support%20Services/">outsourced public services</a>. Today’s revelations suggest that every one of G4S’s performance-related claims should be subjected to renewed, strict and independent scrutiny.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/corporate-power-stamps-its-brand-on-british-policing">Corporate Power stamps its brand on British Policing </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/who-should-investigate-murder-%E2%80%94-police-or-private-security-company-0">Who should investigate murder — the police, or a private security company?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/olympic-bunglers-g4s-recruit-for-hillsborough-inquiry">Olympic bunglers G4S recruit for Hillsborough inquiry</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsource">Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Mon, 23 May 2016 15:31:54 +0000 Clare Sambrook 102348 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Regardless of government orders and promises to Parliament, UK property company Jomast carries on putting asylum tenants at risk.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/SAFE AS HOUSES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/SAFE AS HOUSES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="229" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Safe as houses: red door, repainted door, arson attack door, Friday 20 May 2016</span></span></span></p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Asylum seekers living in the north east of England report that they have suffered racist abuse, thanks to their landlord making them an easy target by painting their door red. </p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Their landlord is Stuart Monk, owner of Jomast, one of <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/who-jomast-urban-regeneration-specialist-10760920">Teesside’s most powerful companies</a>, a company which earned the Monk family £175 million last year.&nbsp;Jomast is the sole sub-contractor for G4S in the North East of England. G4S was given part of the Home Office £620m UK wide COMPASS asylum housing contract in 2012.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Jomast’s practice of painting asylum seekers’ doors red in Middlesbrough and Teesside was exposed in a &nbsp;<a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">front page story in The Times</a> “Apartheid on Streets of Britain” on 20 January this year. James Brokenshire, the Home Office minister responsible for the COMPASS contracts immediately went to the House of Commons <a href="http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/12cab491-2c5b-4390-80a2-2c4a9e4b03c9?in=12:56:39">and assured MPs</a> that there would be an inquiry into Jomast’s asylum housing and that the doors would be repainted. Jomast boss Stuart Monk said on 26 January, when he was grilled by the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, it would be done in “two weeks”. </p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">That hasn’t happened.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">At dawn on Friday 20 May Esmé Madill,&nbsp;a volunteer working with asylum seekers, received a message from James (not his real name), an Iraqi asylum seeker who had fled Isis in Mosul and was now in a Jomast asylum house in Stockton-On-Tees. His house had a red door.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">James said that “racists at 3.40 a.m. this morning had banged on our door”. The gang were part of a family who, James said, lived “near our house and are very racist, they tried many, many times to bother us because we are asylum seekers.” James said that a friend, a refugee from Darfur, had his house windows broken by stones from the family. “He complained five times about this English family but the police did nothing.”</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">James finished his message: “I am so worried about this issue, it’s awful, because we fled from Isis to seek sanctuary here, not to face racism, the Jomast door is still painted a red colour.”</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door pre copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door pre copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Red door, Friday 3.15pm</span></span></span></p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">And here it is (left).</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Esmé Madill, who had for months received reports of racist attacks and verbal abuse, rang Barry Jobson of Jomast on Friday afternoon and told him about the latest reports and demanded James and the asylum seekers in his house should be moved from the area.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">In a follow up&nbsp;e-mail Esmé gave specific examples of the attacks and harassment: “The tenants have called the police on numerous occasions after local residents have: thrown stones at them, breaking windows at the property and hitting the residents; called them abusive names; dumped rubbish at the property and tampered with the keyhole. Recently one resident was accosted for wearing Islamic dress and another was followed, while on his way to his GP, by two youths throwing stones. The police have fitted a camera outside the property but this has not led to any reduction in the racist abuse.”</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Esmé wrote: “The property continues to have a front door painted red, marking it out as a property managed by Jomast and likely to house asylum seekers. I am copying this email to G4S, as on 25 January almost five months ago <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/robust-system-place-check-asylum-10787801">Juliet Halstead head of housing at G4S</a> &nbsp;said that these red doors would be painted over ‘as soon as possible’”.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Around 3.30 p.m. on the same afternoon, Friday 20 May, Jomast workers arrived at James’s house and started repainting his door. Police also arrived at the property.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">A few minutes later Barry Jobson replied to Esmé stating that Jomast were “not aware of any racial abuse” at (that address) and that “the Police have not raised any issues in respect of (that street)”.</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Here (right) is the repainted door.</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door post copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door post copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Repainted door, Friday around 4.20pm</span></span></span></p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Just after 4 p.m. Nicola Broughton, G4S senior incident control officer responded to Esmé. “I have investigated the claims made and I can confirm that our records show that G4S also have not received any reports of anti-social behaviour or hate crimes in relation to (the address).”</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Within hours there was an arson attack on the nearby house occupied by Darfuri refugees.</p><p>When I spoke to Esmé about the events in Stockton she said: “They misled us. Both Jomast and G4S said that they were going to repaint the red doors and they didn’t do it. Their failure to carry out their promises to Parliament has meant that James and other vulnerable people in their home with a red door have been physically attacked, insulted and made very afraid.”</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/burnt door copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/burnt door copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arson attack door, Friday 11.48pm</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Sun, 22 May 2016 23:00:05 +0000 John Grayson 102310 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Children in trouble: punishment or welfare? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/children-in-trouble-punishment-or-welfare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://bbc.in/1PNMV68">BBC Panorama</a> exposed abuse at Medway Secure Training Centre — and a government policy that has gone off the rails.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking door G4Spages.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking door G4Spages.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Malcolm Stevens was the government’s youth justice professional advisor responsible for the original design and operating specifications for Secure Training Centres, and&nbsp;G4S’s first director of children’s services, responsible for Medway and Rainsbrook and, later, Oakhill secure training centres.&nbsp;</em><em>He was the first UK Commissioner to the International Juvenile Justice Observatory in Brussels until 2013 and has wide experience of custodial approaches in Europe, America and Africa, as well as the UK.</em></p> <p><span><em>He believes the BBC’s Panorama programme about Medway STC exposes the child jail that was never intended.</em></span></p><p>Last week’s <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Lords/2016-01-26/HLWS483/">written statement</a> from the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, shows just how seriously the government views <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">recent events at Medway Secure Training Centre</a> (STC), in Kent.&nbsp; We are informed that he has commissioned an Independent Improvement Board with the “broadest possible expertise” — that is with the exception of relevant experience in children’s social care services, safeguarding management, STCs or secure accommodation!</p> <p>Previously, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160111/debtext/160111-0001.htm#16011114000003">on 11 January 2016, he assured Parliament</a> that the safety and welfare of children is vital and that his department (the Ministry of Justice — MOJ) would be supporting the Kent Police and the Medway Council with their criminal child protection inquiries.&nbsp; He also confirmed that there would be no new admissions to Medway and that the certification of certain G4S staff had been suspended; a course of action which will presumably activate significant contractual penalties and possibly liquidated damages — a small fortune.</p> <p>This article is not about money. Nor is it about poor outcomes achieved by successive governments in respect of the young offenders it places in various secure institutions.&nbsp; And there is enough huff and puff in and around Parliament about…..</p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; the costs of keeping children in custody</li><li>-&nbsp; high reoffending rates</li><li>- &nbsp;unlawful use of restraint</li><li>-&nbsp; pain compliant control and restraint techniques</li><li>-&nbsp; transportation in prison cellular vehicles</li><li>- &nbsp;strip searching</li><li>-&nbsp; the over-use of segregation and isolation</li><li>-&nbsp; prison adjudication processes</li><li>-&nbsp; inadequate assessments of vulnerability and capacity for self-harm and suicide</li><li>-&nbsp; closure of 17 local authority secure children’s homes (SCHs)</li><li>-&nbsp; indifferent community social work practices and lack of vigorous viable alternatives to custody</li></ul> <p>&nbsp;...however compelling those matters really are.</p> <p>No consideration of the Youth Justice System, however, can possibly ignore the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">35 or so children who have so tragically died in custody</a> during the last two decades, mostly through suicide, and the crystal clear messages from successive HM Coroners, serious case reviews and Prison Ombudsmen. Their findings have important implications on how and where the government places such children.</p> <p>The investigation report by the Prison Ombudsman into one such suicide by a 15 year old boy who hanged himself in a Young Offender Institution (YOI) described “the lamentable standard of care for such a vulnerable boy in the charge of the state” (reference: paragraph 428, <a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/ReddotImportContent/138.07-Death-of-a-boy-in-a-Young-Offender-Institution.pdf#view=FitH">‘Investigation into the death of a boy at HM Lancaster Farms in November 2007’</a>. The report is dated August 2009 and published in December, 2010)</p> <p>What is so poignant about all of those cases and so many of the children accommodated in STCs, is the paucity of suitable alternative accommodation and the seemingly indifferent interventions by local authorities.</p> <p>A decade of safeguarding reports from the government’s joint inspectorates, which repeatedly submitted serious child protection criticisms about children in custody, have largely been ignored.</p> <p>The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ, 2011) commented similarly about the failure of successive governments to deliver on national commitments to children in care, in favour of the perverse financial incentives which pushed children towards custody simply because it was and still is cheaper for a local authority if a child is in custody and cheaper for the government if a child is in a young offender institution (rather than a secure children’s home) regardless of whether that placement means unsafe and unsuitable prison cells with ligature points, and regardless of the child’s vulnerability or welfare needs.</p> <p>The Secretary of State’s actions arise following the BBC Panorama programme screened on the 11 January 2016 about Medway STC which is run by the international security company G4S.&nbsp; Since then, <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/medway-secure-training-centre-4/">Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP),</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35281097">Ofsted</a>, the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/action-taken-by-the-yjb-to-safeguard-young-people-at-secure-training-centres">Youth Justice Board</a> (YJB) and the local agencies have been busy proclaiming wisely about the malpractices which they themselves all failed to detect or ignored. G4S has <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2016/01/26/Management%20changes%20at%20Medway%20Secure%20Training%20Centre/">implemented its own action plan</a>, some staff have been dismissed, others remain suspended and the director has been replaced.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A*bigman.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A*bigman.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="491" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE BY REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p><p>For this reason, we should be grateful to the vigour of Panorama’s investigation; we would not otherwise have known about what is by any standards, an abuse of children and an abuse of power. Sadly, the potential for such malpractices are well known. They are not unique, not confined just to STCs; and not just to the UK either.&nbsp; And the Ministry of Justice, the Youth Justice Board, G4S and the inspectorates all know that; arguably better than anyone else. They have experienced them all before; at Medway STC (on previous occasions), at Oakhill STC and at <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-%E2%80%98degrading-treatment%E2%80%99-by-guards-high-on-">Rainsbrook STC, as Ofsted found</a>, less than 12 months ago.</p> <p>Yet they have still been happening at Medway, subversively and disgracefully, as Panorama showed, despite all that antecedent knowledge and experience, and despite there being in place:-</p><ul><li>• an on-site government (Youth Justice Board) monitor at all times</li><li>• an active and comprehensive independent advocacy service provided by the children’s charity Barnardo’s</li><li>• twice a year detailed inspections by Ofsted’s (HM) Inspectors of Education and Children’s Services</li><li>• all sorts of commended schemes for the involvement and participation of children</li><li>• active and well used systems for making complaints, representations and ‘grumbles’</li><li>• a well promoted whistleblowing system</li><li>• comprehensive and commended quality monitoring systems</li><li>• close scrutiny by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)</li></ul> <p>In total, this is a degree of external scrutiny, independent monitoring and safeguarding assurance which far exceeds any other comparable service for children in England and Wales or indeed anywhere else that I have ever seen in Europe, USA or Africa.&nbsp; Nevertheless, this is without doubt a most serious child protection matter and indicates crystal clear systemic and governance failings within G4S, within the MOJ and the YJB, and quite possibly within the Medway LSCB as well.</p> <p>In my opinion, a formal Serious Case Review (by the Medway LSCB) is required, not simply for this reason but because the aggressive staff behaviours and (mis)use of control and restraint methods (as shown by Panorama) were not just unlawful but entirely similar to the antecedent circumstances which led to the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">tragic death of Gareth Myatt</a> at Rainsbrook STC in 2004!&nbsp; It is that serious.</p><p>The Secretary of State’s carefully selected Independent Improvement Panel and its equally circumspect terms of reference are inadequate for the purpose of reviewing safeguarding arrangements. That is a matter for the Medway LSCB to oversee; it's what LSCBs are for!</p><p>The hand-picked panel members are&nbsp;unlikely to be able to provide anything other than a retrospective management review of the MoJ’s own performance and some additional monitoring of whatever formal contractual rectification plans have been agreed with G4S.&nbsp;</p> <p>The legal responsibility for ensuring that safeguarding arrangements are effective in respect of all children living in that area, including those living in the secure training centre, rests entirely with the Local Safeguarding Children Board&nbsp;under children’s legislation i.e legislation within the government responsibility of the Department for Education not the Ministry of Justice!</p> <p>The Secretary of State for children (Department for Education) should remind her Ministry of Justice colleagues that neither it (the MoJ) nor its Youth Justice Board, Barnardo’s, Ofsted and HMIP partners can reasonably be seen to investigate themselves and their own child protection failings — any more than G4S can.</p> <p>There is a precedent: the case of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre run by Serco after the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/uk-border-agencys-long-punitive-campaign-against-children-helped-by-g4s-an">sexual abuse of children</a> was discovered by the then Children’s Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green.&nbsp;</p> <p>This rightly fell to the local Local Safeguarding Children Board to conduct an independent review under the appropriate children’s regulatory framework for Serious Case Reviews. Its full report has never been published but even the sanitised Overview Report was widely critical of the government itself (Home Office, UK Border Agency and its prison inspectors) as well as Serco and all the local safeguarding agencies including the police and the LSCB itself. (‘Bedfordshire LSCB, Independent Review, Child A and Child B, placed at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention and Removal Centre, June 2010’).</p> <p>Moreover, it criticised the government’s policy for establishing a service for children outside the regulatory framework and governance of the otherwise comprehensive Children Act 1989 – as are secure training centres! The government closed Yarl’s Wood’s doors to children shortly afterwards.</p> <p>Aside from the specific malpractices themselves at Medway, what shocked me more than anything in the BBC Panorama was the lack of care and understanding for children whose health and welfare needs were as profound as they were blindingly obvious. There was no sense of professional duty to look after them properly, either as individual children or as vulnerable children with special needs and/or who have suffered significant early life traumas (as most of them have).</p><p> I have always been irritated by the ‘Child Prison’ label so often used to describe secure training centres. Historically that’s been incorrect and unfair. They were set up to be large secure children’s homes… not juvenile prisons. The government’s original commitment to Parliament in March 1993 (about STCs) was to provide “high standards of care, health and education” and to ensure that happened as specified, they were to be inspected only by the government’s own HM Inspectorate of Children’s Services (duties which are now carried out by Ofsted).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/kids angry_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/kids angry_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE BY REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p><p>HM Prison Service was never allowed to commission secure training centres, bid for them, run them or draft any of the design and operating specifications. Prison officers and prison governors were not permitted unless they were qualified social workers as well; and HMIP was not permitted to inspect them. Operating and design specifications, inspection and contractual care standards were all derived from The Children Act 1989 and its various regulations.</p> <p>I myself was involved in much of that from the outset, as a civil servant and inspector and as a director of G4S. I have learned many hard lessons, from successes as much as failures. But two stand out more than anything else:-</p> <ul><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;(i) STCs are incredibly difficult to run and</li><li>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;(ii) the children and young people themselves can be very difficult to look after, arguably more so than any other group.</li></ul> <p>Hereto, every provider has underestimated that difficulty — G4S at Medway, Rainsbrook and Oakhill STCs, Premier Prisons and Serco at Hassockfield STC – all suffering the same significant operating and contractual compliance difficulties.</p> <p>Moreover, no one is in a position to crow about these sorts of failures either, least of all the government which is not only the common denominator in the history of all four secure training centres, but which itself experienced equally high profile ‘difficulties’ at its secure St Charles and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/care-centre-for-young-criminals-out-of-control-stressed-staff-use-excessive-restraint-1434123.html">Glenthorne Youth Treatment</a> Centres in Essex and Birmingham. Likewise, local authorities and the leading children’s charities have all but disengaged from providing secure residential children’s services. They are simply that difficult!</p> <p>Hence the reason some 17 secure children’s homes have closed in the last decade and why secure training centre contracts were awarded to the private sector in the first place; in much the same way and for the same reasons that large, private equity-backed residential and fostering companies are now replacing the conventions of public and charitable sector-provided children’s services.</p> <p>There is, therefore, a wider debate to be had about the strengths and weaknesses, and viability of STCs; arguably one which could and should have preceded the MOJ’s contract renewal process in 2015, which resulted in Medway STC being awarded to G4S and Rainsbrook STC to a new provider called <a href="http://www.mtcnovo.co.uk">MTCnovo</a> (from 2016).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rough boy_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rough boy_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE BY REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p> <p>The following considerations are just some of the developments which have changed the nature of secure training centres, mostly for the government’s own administrative and financial reasons:-</p><ul><li>•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the doubling of occupancy from 40 to 80+ children and consequent lack of space and recreational facilities</li><li>•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the introduction of certain pain-compliant restraint methods</li><li>•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the addition of long term detainees, children convicted of grave crimes</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;the addition of unconvicted children on remand (contrary to UN’s Havana Rules, 1990)</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;the addition of children younger and older than the original 12-14 age group for whom the centres were designed</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;the mix of children with profoundly different and conflicting needs.&nbsp;</li><li><span> </span>&nbsp;For example:-</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>....boys and girls</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….victims and perpetrators (of sex offending)</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….older 16 and 17 year old children with younger 12 and 13 year olds</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….remanded and sentenced children</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….short term and long term detainees</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children convicted of dangerous, grave crimes with persistent but less serious offenders</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children with significant mental health needs</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children with antecedent, multi placement local authority care histories</li><li><span> <span> </span></span>….children with significant records of self-harm and suicide attempts</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;risk-averse, central government managed case decision-making</li><li>• &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;lack of external opportunities and supervised exeats</li></ul> <p>Upon reflection, these, and the secure training centres’ contractual obligation to admit every child referred by the MoJ (regardless of whether that is in the best interests of the children concerned), have all had a significant and probably detrimental bearing on the day-to-day management of STCs. They have undoubtedly added to the complexity of an already difficult task and certainly merit discussion and debate at a policy level.</p> <p>Having been involved in designing, operating and inspecting secure units for many years, I am not easily shocked by the behaviour of stroppy kids. They are not like that all the time and the important thing is to concentrate upon their achievements and positive behaviours. I’m not shocked by the behaviours and attitudes of big-headed staff and bullying managers either.</p> <p>Nevertheless, I am bound to say that after seeing Panorama’s portrayal of Medway STC, 18 years after it first opened in April 1998, with internal security fences, pain-compliant methods of physical control and aggressive, uniform-wearing staff, I was hugely disappointed. It is nowhere near what the originating Home Security, Kenneth Clarke, intended back in 1992. </p> <p>I thought it looked like a prison and the staff looked and sounded like prison officers — everything that the original concept set out to avoid and about which Parliament was assured would not happen.</p> <p>The prospect of adding body cameras to the staff’s already extensive armoury (key-belts, key-pouches, key bunches, personal security radios, handcuffs and anti-ligature knives) is about as far removed from a therapeutic child care setting as it is possible to get.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/uk-border-agencys-long-punitive-campaign-against-children-helped-by-g4s-a">The UK Border Agency&#039;s long, punitive campaign against children (helped by G4S and Serco)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Malcolm Stevens Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:00:21 +0000 Malcolm Stevens 99562 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“An unseemly and unsavoury” business? Stuart Monk of Jomast fails to impress.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/STUART MONK-this one_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/STUART MONK-this one_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All the complaints?' Stuart Monk of Jomast, Home Affairs Committee, January 2016</span></span></span></p><p>Last week a Parliamentary committee asked one of Britain’s richest landlords to hand over the complaints his company had received from its asylum-seeker tenants. “<em>All</em> the complaints?” replied Stuart Monk, owner and managing director of <a href="http://www.jomast.co.uk/about-us/our-people/">Jomast</a>. “There’ll be a lot, there’ll be an enormous number.”&nbsp; [<a href="http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/0dca3772-f15a-434d-ae59-1ec153372066">video here: 5.31pm to 5.33pm</a>]</p> <p>After the <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">Times</a> revealed that G4S and Jomast, its subcontractor for asylum housing in England’s North East, had painted the doors of asylum seekers houses red, resulting in racist attacks and arson, the <a href="http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/Odca3772-f15a-434d-ae59-1ec153372066">Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee</a> summoned the companies to Westminster.</p> <p>Stuart<strong> </strong>Monk<strong>,</strong> whose family has an estimated wealth of £175 million, represented Jomast. G4S put up Peter Neden, the company’s regional president for UK and Ireland, and John Whitwam, managing director, immigration. </p> <p>Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP summed up the session, an embarrassing one for Stuart Monk, by telling him: “I found your evidence today unsatisfactory.”</p> <p>Monk was adamant that as a businessman he was providing “a product suitable for asylum seekers”. He claimed in providing asylum housing Jomast had “a track record second to none”. </p> <p>Members of the Home Affairs Committee were less than impressed. Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, said that the Jomast business model was pretty clear —&nbsp;“buying cheap property in the most deprived part of communities, making a profit from deprivation and people’s need for refuge”. Umunna called it “an unseemly and unsavoury” business.</p> <p>So what is Jomast’s true record?</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/timesfrontpageREDDOORS CROP_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/timesfrontpageREDDOORS CROP_0.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="474" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Times lead story, 20 Jan 2016</span></span></span>Jomast was established as a family regeneration and property development company in 1972. The company, which claims to be <a href="http://www.jomast.co.uk/housing/">“a leading name in private sector housing provision and one of the largest private landlords in the UK”</a> was accused by The Times of creating <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">“apartheid on the streets of Britain”</a> by painting asylum seekers doors red in its asylum housing in Middlesbrough. </p> <p>Jomast had built its domination of the asylum housing market in the North East by 2010 through takeovers of smaller contractors, and outbidding most of the local authorities and contractors like Clearsprings in the region, undercutting their bids for extension of the asylum housing contracts. </p><p>The North East was the earliest wholly privatised asylum housing market region in the UK and Jomast wanted to bid in 2011 for a part of the proposed £600 million UK wide Home Office asylum housing contract. It’s known as <a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/taking-over-the-asylum/6525285.article">COMPASS (Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services). </a></p> <p>Andrew Norfolk’s revelation in the Times about those distinctive red doors was not the first time the voices of asylum seeker tenants had been raised in protest against Jomast and its degrading housing.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2010 Jomast had added its own <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">‘mother and baby market’</a> to the national asylum housing market with the development of a former police hostel it owned in Stockton. By 2012 the hostel accommodated thirty-two women and thirty-eight babies and toddlers. Despite the protests of health workers, social workers and the <a href="http://www.egenda.stockton.gov.uk/aksstockton/users/public/admin/kab12.pl?cmte=SSP&amp;meet=27&amp;arc=71">Safer Stockton Partnership committee</a> Jomast won approval from the Stockton Planning committee. </p><p>The hostel was in blatant disregard of key provisions in the Home Office policies on dispersal — that there should not be concentrations of asylum seekers in particular neighbourhoods and that women asylum seekers and their children should not be housed and concentrated in known ‘red light’ areas of sex work and prostitution.</p> <p>Catherine Tshezi, who was dumped in the hostel weeks after giving birth, said about her experience there: “This really goes to show that the asylum seekers are not respected. We are all human beings and <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">we deserve respect and dignity</a>.”</p> <p>The hostel, the first and the only one in the UK asylum housing system at the time, resurrected the world of punitive housing, back to the women-only segregated hostels of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/feb/15/2">Cathy Come Home</a>, and the morally charged unmarried-mother-and-baby units that local authorities developed in the 1950s and 1960s. </p><p>In interviews I undertook with women at the Stockton hostel in 2012 they constantly returned to phrases about living in “cells”, in conditions “like a prison”. They said there was no respect for their dignity, privacy or different cultures.</p> <p><a href="http://www.refugeewomen.co.uk/uncategorized/mother-and-baby-face-eviction/">Cha Matty,</a> a former housing worker, one of the women in the hostel who had been there a year with her baby, said she was “shocked and disappointed at how we have been treated by the powers that be. How inhuman they are treating us, and we are just numbers&nbsp;for them in making a profit which is very unfair and sad”.</p> <p>Cha went on to campaign for closure of the hostel and took her experience to the Children’s Society <a href="http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-views/press-release/woeful-asylum-support-pushes-children-and-families-destitution">Parliamentary inquiry into asylum support</a>. </p> <p>Sarah Teather MP, who chaired the inquiry, described the experience of women and children like Cha and her daughter in the Stockton hostel <a href="http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?gid=2013-02-27b.73.2">in Parliament</a> on 27 February 2013: </p> <p>“They are treated as luggage rather than people who deserve some dignity and respect. The Government must get to grips with that with housing contractors.” </p> <p>Teather said housing providers demonstrated “abject disregard for basic human dignity”. </p> <p>At the same time as Cha and another former resident of the hostel were in London giving evidence, their local MP posted on his website:</p> <p>“Alex Cunningham has today called for the Home Secretary to investigate the handling of contracts for housing asylum seekers by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) which impact directly on people in his Stockton North constituency.”</p> <p>Cha’s reward for her whistleblowing was devastating – <a href="http://tcarblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/life-on-section-4-zoe-williams.html">Jomast evicted her</a> and her toddler daughter into local authority bed and breakfast and she lost her own financial support.</p> <p>Jomast since 2012 has continued to use the hostel and has also converted an adjoining property. Jomast is currently facing opposition in Hartlepool for its plans to convert a property it has bought there for conversion into another mother and baby hostel. </p> <p>According to council minutes quoted by the <a href="http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/local/developers-appeal-over-refused-plans-for-asylum-seekers-hostel-in-hartlepool-1-7560198?#axzz3r0J3UPII">Hartlepool Mail</a>, members “highlighted the high rate of sex crimes in the area and felt it was not a suitable premises for the intended use”.</p> <h2><strong>Forced evictions and racist attacks</strong></h2> <p>Stockton was not the only town where the Jomast brand of landlordism shaped the asylum housing market. In Sunderland Jomast decided throughout the summer of 2012 to increase the profitability of its asylum housing leased from other small landlords by forcing<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/forced-evictions-racist-attacks-meet-new-landlord-security-company-g4s">&nbsp;some of its existing tenants</a> in larger accommodation to move out, sending them to Gateshead and replacing them with single men forced to share bedrooms. </p> <p>I spoke to former Jomast employees who told me of eight cases of this kind. I interviewed an elderly disabled Congolese couple who had been in asylum housing since 2008 and supported by Sunderland Social Services in their accommodation for two years. They were given notice and dumped in a Jomast flat in Gateshead twelve miles away where they suffered repeated racist abuse from local teenagers.</p> <p>In 2012 and 2013 I interviewed a Kurdish journalist who had fled from attackers in Iraq and within a week had been dumped in a Jomast house in an area of known Far Right activity in Sunderland. He and other tenants came under attack from a crowd who broke the door and windows. Jomast patched up the windows but refused to move him. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DR-6_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Back yard (Dorothy Ismail)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DR-6_0.jpg" alt="" title="Back yard (Dorothy Ismail)" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Back yard (Dorothy Ismail)</span></span></span>On a couple of occasions at a Sunderland drop-in centre I chatted with an Eritrean athlete who had fled his Olympic squad and ended up in a squalid, dirty Jomast property visited by drug dealers and sex workers. At the same centre I talked to a doctor who had worked with refugees in South Sudan — she was dumped with her toddler daughter at the top of a run down Jomast house with her daughter’s cot next to a cooker, and a filthy back yard as a play area (picture above).</p> <h2><strong>Early investigations on ‘red doors’ housing</strong></h2> <p>Investigations into Jomast properties in Stockton and Middlesbrough for a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0546jxx">BBC TV North East programme</a>, filmed in late 2014 and screened in March 2015, exposed overcrowded damp and rundown houses with forced sharing of bedrooms — and the red doors. </p><p>BBC reporters for the first time managed to get a figure for Home Office payments to G4S/Jomast: £9.20 per night per asylum seeker. The BBC team suggested that the return on Jomast investment in the Stockton ‘red doors’ houses (using taxpayers’ money of course) rivalled the returns expected on luxury properties in the Teesside countryside.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/__BESTjohn closeup with reporter inside out.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/__BESTjohn closeup with reporter inside out.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="269" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Grayson, BBC TV Inside Out programme March 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>A Home Office statement given to the programme defended the use of taxpayers’ money saying that “for the price of a takeaway meal” asylum seekers were being housed in Stockton. Andrew Norfolk in his Times article suggests that Jomast are being paid around £8 million by the Home Office this year for asylum housing.</p> <h2><strong>Hovels driving profits </strong></h2> <p>Stuart Monk told MPs last week: “We’ve had an exemplary record in terms of the provision of services.” </p> <p>But, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160120/debtext/160120-0001.htm">speaking in Parliament</a> on Wednesday 20 January, Alex Cunningham MP, whose Stockton North constituency adjoins Middlesbrough, said: </p> <p>“Jomast has a major base in my constituency, and this is not the first time that it has come under national media scrutiny for the wrong reasons. I have visited some of the hovels that have apparently passed the test as ‘decent homes’, driving huge profits directly from Government contracts.”</p> <p>No doubt the Home Affairs Committee will be inviting Stuart Monk back quite soon. The chair Keith Vaz suggested that they were likely to be launching a full inquiry into the COMPASS contract in the coming months.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/stuart-crosthwaite/marked-out-for-attack-living-in-uk-asylum-market">Marked out for attack: living in the UK &#039;asylum market&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/meet-uk-s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">Meet the UK’s latest weapon against organised crime and asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/uk-watchdog-takes-another-bite-out-of-failing-outsourcer-g4s">UK watchdog takes another bite out of failing outsourcer G4S</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Mon, 01 Feb 2016 22:14:35 +0000 John Grayson 99491 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Marked out for attack: living in the UK 'asylum market' https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/stuart-crosthwaite/marked-out-for-attack-living-in-uk-asylum-market <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Private companies took public money to house asylum seekers behind distinctive red doors and make them wear bright shiny wristbands.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4s-demo2-amy_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Asylum tenants protest in 2012 against G4S in Sheffield"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4s-demo2-amy_0.jpg" alt="" title="Asylum tenants protest in 2012 against G4S in Sheffield" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Asylum tenants protest in 2012 against G4S in Sheffield</span></span></span></p><p class="TextBody">Twice in one week the abuse experienced by people seeking asylum from private contractors made the headlines. On January 20th <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">The Times front page described "asylum apartheid"</a> with the doors of asylum tenants in the north east painted red, marking them out for racist attacks.&nbsp;</p><p class="TextBody">"Private companies shouldn't be allowed to profit from refugees," local MP <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/private-firm-g4s-shouldnt-allowed-7212235">Andy McDonald told parliament</a>. Days later various reports — BBC, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jan/25/government-to-be-challenged-in-commons-over-refugee-wristbands?CMP=share_btn_tw">Guardian</a> —&nbsp;described how asylum seekers were forced to wear visible wristbands as they queued to receive meals at Lynx House Initial Accommodation in Cardiff. Again this visible stigma marked them out for racist abuse and caused what one man described as <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-35398915">"mental torture"</a>.</p><p class="TextBody"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/timesfrontpageREDDOORS CROP.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/timesfrontpageREDDOORS CROP.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="474" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Times front page 20 January 2016</span></span></span></p><p class="TextBody">In both cases these practices were enacted by private companies — <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/who-jomast-urban-regeneration-specialist-10760920">Jomast</a> and G4S in Middlesbrough, Clearsprings in Cardiff — on the Home Office asylum accommodation contract known as <a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/taking-over-the-asylum/6525285.article">COMPASS (Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services) </a>. In both cases the courage and determination of asylum tenants to speak out has challenged this discrimination and abusive treatment. Jomast have agreed to repaint the doors various colours. Clearsprings (formerly called Clearel) have been <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jan/25/government-to-be-challenged-in-commons-over-refugee-wristbands?CMP=share_btn_tw">forced to scrap their wristband branding system</a>.</p> <p class="TextBody">The "red doors" issue has been known about for 3 or 4 years, but Jomast, G4S and the Home Office have done nothing about it. Meanwhile tenants have suffered years of racist attacks, compared by one to the torture he suffered in Sudan. "I experienced an arson every single night behind my property" <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fwsSXv5j34">Abdul Al Bashir told the BBC</a>.&nbsp;South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG),&nbsp;along with local campaigners raised it with G4S in 2013. Nothing was done, despite it being raised with G4S in a <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-93.htm">Parliamentary enquiry</a> that&nbsp;we called for.</p><p class="TextBody">We believe these abusive practices — whether <em>designed</em> to stigmatise or just the result of incompetent neglect — are not isolated features but arise from the nature of the privatised COMPASS asylum accommodation contract. When SYMAAG met G4S executive Stephen Small in 2012 he was being honest when he explained that G4S' <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk/2012/08/13/yorkshire-region-no-to-g4s-housing-asylum-seekers-meeting-wed-15th-august/">"primary concern" was to "make a return for our shareholders in the asylum market"</a>.</p><p class="TextBody">There’ve been consequences for asylum tenants of living, not in a home, but in an "asylum market": <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/revealed-uk-puts-electronic-tags-and-curfews-on-asylum-seekers">asylum tenants tagged</a>; <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/neglect-contempt-and-hostility-how-uk-government-really-welcomes-refugee">forced to share a bedroom</a>; disabled asylum seeker told to "crawl" to upstairs bathroom; tenants <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-93.htm">victimised for speaking out</a>; housed in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby’s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">cockroach</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/rats-asbestos-toddlers-when-security-company-g4s-is-asylum-seeker-landlord">rat-infested</a> houses; <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/g4s-and-friends-exploit-mother-and-baby-market">female tenants denied privacy</a>; <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/g4s-contractor-evicted-heavily-pregnant-asylum-seeker-even-though-they-knew-she-was-being-induced-8399581.html">pregnant women evicted</a> as they were about to give birth; <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">young mothers and babies forced into an overcrowded, disease-ridden hostel</a> (Jomast again).</p><p class="TextBody">With asylum tenants, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/britains-botched-privatisation-of-asylum-housing">John Grayson has led the work of documenting the reality of privatised asylum housing</a>, particularly <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/shine-light/g4s-securing-whose-world">G4S</a> and its dwindling number of subcontractors. But it's not just G4S. The the other&nbsp;COMPASS contractors, Serco and Clearsprings (closely connected to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/revealed-uk-puts-electronic-tags-and-curfews-on-asylum-seekers">Capita</a>), are responsible for a lot of misery in the lives of asylum tenants.</p> <p class="TextBody"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/stephensmallPACFEB2014BIG_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Stephen Small, G4S executive in charge of asylum housing, Public Accounts Committee, Feb 2014"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/stephensmallPACFEB2014BIG_0.jpg" alt="" title="Stephen Small, G4S executive in charge of asylum housing, Public Accounts Committee, Feb 2014" width="460" height="229" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stephen Small, G4S executive in charge of asylum housing, Public Accounts Committee, Feb 2014</span></span></span></p><p class="TextBody">Before the COMPASS contract began in February 2012 asylum housing was often inadequate and sometimes totally unacceptable. But with <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">COMPASS — the biggest ever single Home Office contract</a>, potentially worth over £1.7<em>billion</em> over 7 years — standards have gone through the floor. <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27125747">"Unacceptably poor"</a> was the verdict of the Public Accounts Committee's investigation.</p> <p class="TextBody">Since profit has been the "primary concern" of the contractors the lowest cost housing has been sought out. By definition this is in the most deprived ex-industrial areas of the country where hardship can easily breed desperation, competition for inadequate resources and services and racism. This isn't to label Middlesbrough, Hull, South Wales or South Yorkshire as irredeemably racist - there's some <a href="http://barnsleycsc.com/category/esol-project-unite/">great solidarity work from local communities and trade unions</a> - but dumping refugees into already deprived and ravaged communities is likely to create problems, without increased resources and support for all. In these circumstances branding asylum tenants with red doors and tagged wristbands isn't just degrading it's potentially life-threatening.</p><p class="TextBody">Questions must be asked about <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/five-lessons-britain-must-learn-from-botched-privatisation-of-asylum-housing">why the Home Office and Government have failed to monitor the contract</a>, standards of housing and regulate the dumping of so many asylum tenants in areas of high social deprivation. Was it all part of the Government's plan to create a "hostile environment" for undocumented migrants? Or neglectful incompetence with £1.7 billion of public money?</p><p class="TextBody">The news that the renewal of the massively expensive COMPASS asylum accommodation contract is being discussed was <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/79c0bf80-a70b-11e5-955c-1e1d6de94879,Authorised=false.html?siteedition=uk&amp;_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F79c0bf80-a70b-11e5-955c-1e1d6de94879.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&amp;_i_referer=&amp;classification=conditional_standard&amp;iab=barrier-app#axzz3vDM5DDBC">sneaked out on Christmas Eve l</a>ast year. These latest examples of inhumanity in the "asylum market" should — we believe — result in it being ended.&nbsp;G4S, Serco and Clearsprings/Capita should pay compensation to the taxpayer, to local authorities who have picked up some of the bills for their failures and to asylum tenants. Surely it is possible for asylum tenants, tenants' associations and local authorities to provide decent housing for people who have come to this country to escape abuse. Not to be caused more of it by private companies paid public money.</p> <p class="TextBody">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="TextBody">Author's note: John Grayson worked with asylum tenants and Times reporter Andrew Norfolk to help break the "red doors" story. John wrote an analysis of Jomast's and G4S's red doors policy for openDemocracy on 22nd January <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">here</a>. For a comprehensive series of articles on asylum housing and G4S see <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk/?s=g4s&amp;submit=Search">here.</a>&nbsp;To join the campaign to Stop G4S, get involved <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk/events/">here</a>.</p> <p class="TextBody">This piece is republished from the website of <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk/2016/01/26/marked-out-for-attack-with-red-doors-and-wristbands-living-in-the-asylum-market/">South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG)</a>.</p><p class="TextBody">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/meet-uk-s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">Meet the UK’s latest weapon against organised crime and asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/welcome-to-britain-go-home-and-have-pleasant-journey">Welcome to Britain. Go Home. And have a pleasant journey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">Destitution, intimidation . . . How Britain shirks its obligations to asylum-seekers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Stuart Crosthwaite Tue, 26 Jan 2016 21:58:26 +0000 Stuart Crosthwaite 99359 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why did UK commercial contractors G4S and Jomast paint asylum seekers’ doors red? Why did they ignore complaints for years?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CZHcafKWkAEOYcH.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CZHcafKWkAEOYcH.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="586" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The plight of asylum seekers living in substandard accommodation rarely excites national media attention here in the UK.&nbsp;But Wednesday’s <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">front page story in The Times</a> about asylum seekers’ front doors being painted red by their private landlord has been followed across the national media and <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160120/debtext/160120-0001.htm">provoked questions in Parliament</a>.</p> <p>Vulnerable tenants in deprived areas of Middlesbrough told Times reporter Andrew Norfolk that their distinctive red doors made them targets for racist abuse. “They described incidents including the smearing of dog excrement against doors, and eggs and stones being thrown at windows,” Norfolk wrote.</p> <p>The landlord is Jomast, the influential Teesside property company that is sub-contracted by the security giant G4S to supply housing to asylum seekers across England’s North East. </p> <p>The client is the UK Home Office and the arrangements are known by the acronym COMPASS —&nbsp;Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring of Asylum Support Services. &nbsp;</p> <p>When G4S became one of the government’s preferred bidders five years ago the company <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2011/12/20/COMPASS%20contracts/">claimed</a>: “We are confident that our approach would improve the provision of accommodation for asylum applicants and their families.” </p><p>But it hasn’t worked out that way, as I’ve reported over years . . . on&nbsp;children exposed to health risks in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">rat-infested homes</a>, lone women&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/their-secret-is-out-but-for-g4s-and-friends-%E2%80%98abject-disregard-for-human-dign">intimidated by their landlords</a>, a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">cockroach in the baby’s bottle</a> and more.</p> <p>The Times reported that both Jomast and G4S denied that most asylum seekers in Middlesbrough had red doors. G4S director John Whitwam was quoted as saying that there was “absolutely no such policy”. But, of 168 Jomast properties identified by The Times, 155 had red doors. </p> <p>In a contradictory statement <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2016/01/19/Asylum%20seeker%20housing%20in%20North%20East%20England/">issued on its website</a> this week, G4S claimed to have received “no complaints or requests from asylum seekers” regarding the red doors, and acknowledged that “the issue of front door colours was first raised with us in&nbsp;2012”.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The secret apartheid on Britain's streets <a href="https://t.co/XLVA3IBDzP">https://t.co/XLVA3IBDzP</a> <a href="https://t.co/9hPf0bY8AF">pic.twitter.com/9hPf0bY8AF</a></p>— The Times of London (@thetimes) <a href="https://twitter.com/thetimes/status/689915307536838656">January 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script charset="utf-8"></script> <p>In fact the issue of red doors has been raised repeatedly over years, by asylum seekers, by campaigners and by members of Parliament. </p> <p>Suzanne Fletcher told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday how she had alerted G4S to Jomast’s red doors policy years ago. Fletcher, a retired councillor who works alongside asylum seekers and community volunteers in Stockton-on-Tees, said (<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06wf6n5#play">here, about 1 hour 25 minutes in</a>): “We set up meetings with G4S, constructive helpful meetings was the idea. In September 2012, I’ve got the notes here, we asked G4S if they would do something about the red doors, and they said they had no intention of doing anything about it.”</p><p>Fletcher alerted the National Audit Office and the Home Affairs Committee. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-45.htm">Here’s her written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee</a> in April 2013. “We have documented the problems, held an open meeting with G4S and UKBA, and held a number of meetings with G4S on the problems,” she wrote. “Solutions have been promised to many of the problems, but very little, apart from the G4S grant for kitchen equipment has materialised.”</p> <p>Under the title “Relationships with the neighbourhood” Fletcher continued:<em> “</em>Despite instructions in the&nbsp;COMPASS&nbsp;document about reducing the possibility of conflict in the neighbourhood, the landlord has painted the doors of each of their properties housing asylum seekers red. This clearly says ‘this is where asylum seekers live’. It should be part of the contract that such clearly outwardly visible signs should not be allowed by housing providers.”</p> <p>Suzanne Fletcher briefed Ian Swales, then the Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. This week Swales <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/red-doors-asylum-seekers-concerns-10760752">told the Teesside newspaper The Gazette:</a> “I raised it while G4S were there talking about the issue of housing for asylum seekers. You could hear the intake of breath because of the shock in the room.”</p> <p><a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/WrittenEvidence.svc/EvidenceHtml/5823">Here’s the transcript</a> from that evidence session at the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday 5 February 2014. Representing G4S was executive Stephen Small, the company’s ‘Managing Director, Immigration and Borders’.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/stephensmallPACFEB2014BIG.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/stephensmallPACFEB2014BIG.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="229" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stephen Small, G4S executive in charge of asylum housing, Public Accounts Committee, Feb 2014</span></span></span></p> <p>Swales asks him: “Do you think that painting the doors a different colour — in this case, red — so that the whole neighbourhood knows who the asylum seekers are is likely to make that accommodation more safe? Is that a good idea?”</p> <p>Small, who had been recruited to his sensitive role at G4S from the pest control company Rentokil, replies: “The fact is that our supplier, Jomast, supplied services to asylum seekers in the previous contract as well as with G4S. I cannot comment on the doors being painted red, but I will take that point away.”</p> <p>The former MP Ian Swales told the <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/red-doors-asylum-seekers-concerns-10760752">Gazette</a> this week: “If you mark people out in that way, you signal them to extremists and vandals. Anyone with any sensitivity would realise it would be an issue.”</p> <p>He went on: “I want to make clear I have never believed that Jomast or G4S have marked these people out deliberately, but it is completely thoughtless.”</p> <p>The evidence of years of abuse and neglect of asylum tenants suggests that, far from being a callous oversight, the decision to paint asylum seekers’ doors red, and to keep them that way despite all those objections, chimes with the apparent policy to make Britain a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/meet-uk%E2%80%99s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">hostile environment for asylum seekers</a>.</p> <p>For the past three years asylum seeker tenants in G4S housing have, despite fear and intimidation, spoken out in protest at the degrading treatment they have received from the UK Home Office, G4S and their subcontractors.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/barbaratagcrop2_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/barbaratagcrop2_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="209" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Asylum-seeker and G4S tenant Barbara is forced to wear a tag (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>I have written about these protests and reported on housing conditions that parliamentary committees have condemned as “<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">appalling</a>”, conditions for which both G4S and Serco (the other main contractor) have been fined by the Home Office.</p> <p>In 2013 I wrote about Jomast’s degrading treatment of women asylum seekers and their toddlers in hostels which the women described as a form of detention, <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">“living in cells”</a>, blighting their children’s early years. </p> <p>I’ve found it difficult to get public figures to speak out about Jomast —&nbsp;with the honourable exception of Labour MP <a href="https://twitter.com/ACunninghamMP?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Alex Cunningham</a>, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160120/debtext/160120-0001.htm">who told the Commons on Wednesday</a>: &nbsp;</p><p>“Jomast has a major base in my constituency, and this is not the first time that it has come under national media scrutiny for the wrong reasons. I have visited some of the hovels that have apparently passed the test as ‘decent homes’, driving huge profits directly from government contracts.”</p><p>Cunningham went on: “While the Minister inquires further into this latest scandal, will he also order a further review in real detail of the standards of Teesside accommodation, including houses of multiple occupation in my Stockton North constituency, and get a better deal and better value for money for both tenants and the Government?”</p><p>Jomast is one of <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/who-jomast-urban-regeneration-specialist-10760920">Teesside’s most powerful companies</a>, with major contracts to redevelop Stockton town centre and other sites on Wearside and Teesside. It’s run by Stuart Monk, whose family has an estimated wealth of £175 million. </p> <p>In response to criticism this week, <a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2016/01/19/Asylum%20seeker%20housing%20in%20North%20East%20England/">Stuart Monk said</a>: “Our accommodation is inspected frequently by the Home Office and has been found to meet or exceed the required standards.</p> <p>“As many landlords will attest, paint is bought in bulk for use across all properties. It is ludicrous to suggest that this constitutes any form of discrimination, and offensive to make comparisons to a policy of apartheid in Nazi Germany.</p> <p>“However we have agreed to repaint doors in a range of colours after these concerns were brought to our attention.”</p> <p>When Andrew Norfolk sought my assistance I briefed him. Andrew trudged the streets of Middlesbrough achieving what very few journalists could have done —&nbsp; winning the trust of asylum seekers and allowing them a voice to let the light in on the degradation and violence they were experiencing as a result of the red doors policy. He told me recently that it was a “huge learning experience” and that he had been overwhelmed by the hospitality and warmth of the asylum seekers he had worked with.</p> <p>The Daily Mail, Express, Mirror and Telegraph, Independent, Guardian, the BBC, Sky News, ITV News, and the Huffington Post all followed Andrew’s&nbsp;story. The doors are to be repainted and the immigration minister James Brokenshire has roused Home Office civil servants to begin <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">“an urgent audit</a> of asylum seeker housing in the North East”.</p> <blockquote lang="en" class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">There is categorically no G4S policy to house asylum seekers behind red doors.</p>— G4S (@G4S) <a href="https://twitter.com/G4S/status/689594874438537220">January 19, 2016</a></blockquote> <script charset="utf-8"></script> <p>All this comes at a crucial point. Late last year the Home Office revealed to the <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/79c0bf80-a70b-11e5-955c-1e1d6de94879.html#axzz3vDM5DDBC">Financial Times</a> that it is in negotiations with G4S, Serco and Clearel, the contractor for the South and Wales, about the option to extend the contract for at least two years beyond 2017. </p> <p>Last year <a href="http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/Agenda.asp?meetingid=13814">Glasgow City Council</a> and Sheffield City Council passed resolutions demanding a review of the COMPASS contracts.</p> <p>Today, Graham O’Neill, policy officer at Scottish Refugee Council told me: “Scottish Refugee Council and others have been calling for organisations and individuals across the UK to provide evidence to Keith Vaz, as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee by 19th February on the&nbsp;COMPASS&nbsp;accommodation contracts delivered by G4S, Serco, and Clearel, in order to persuade the Committee that a UK-wide, independent inquiry is now essential. The red doors scandal, and the dysfunctional oversight it shows, adds to the case.”</p> <p>Sheffield asylum seekers and refugees in <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk">SYMAAG</a> (South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group) the organisation I chair and do voluntary research for, opposed the notion of G4S taking over the asylum housing contract in Yorkshire back in 2012. We interpreted the move correctly as the Home Office extending ‘asylum markets’ and their ‘hostile environment’ from detention centres, run by contractors G4S and Serco, into asylum seekers’ homes. </p><p>As one Zimbabwean asylum housing tenant in Sheffield said in 2012: &nbsp;“I don’t want a prison guard as my landlord”. After the Times revelations it is surely time for the government to take asylum housing away from their disgraced commercial contractors.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. 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How Britain shirks its obligations to asylum-seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/five-lessons-britain-must-learn-from-botched-privatisation-of-asylum-housin">Five lessons Britain must learn from the botched privatisation of asylum housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-to-use-housing-to-hurt-people-britains-hostile-environment-for-asylum-s">How to use housing to hurt people: Britain&#039;s hostile environment for asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/uk-watchdog-takes-another-bite-out-of-failing-outsourcer-g4s">UK watchdog takes another bite out of failing outsourcer G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">Living with rats. Landlord G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/after-mubenga-unlawful-killing-verdict-could-asylum-seekers-have-worse-land">After Mubenga unlawful killing verdict: Could asylum seekers have a worse landlord than G4S?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light People Flow G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Fri, 22 Jan 2016 14:35:03 +0000 John Grayson 99277 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Black deaths: still fighting for justice in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/amrit-wilson/black-deaths-still-fighting-for-justice-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ken Fero's award-winning films about black deaths at the hands of the police in Britain record the continuing struggle to get justice. They have never been broadcast in the UK. <strong><em>Part of our partnership with the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb-debates/unorthodocs">Unorthodocs</a> programme of screenings and events.</em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>From the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a> archive. <br></em><em><p><p><strong>'3 and a half minutes, 10 bullets'</strong>, on the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis in Florida, will be <a href="http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/learning/adults-visitors/unorthodocs2016">screened</a> at London's Somerset House on 25th January. Here, Amrit Wilson discusses the work of Ken Fero, whose award-winning films tell of black deaths and 'law and order' from the British perspective.<br></em></p><p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Burn.jpg" alt="" width="450"></p><p>In the last few weeks of 2014, I joined thousands of people in London to demonstrate in solidarity with Mike Brown's family and the protesters in Ferguson. On one occasion outside the US embassy, Carole Duggan, aunt of Mark Duggan, whose shooting by the police was a trigger for the 2011 riots across England, addressed us 'We know what it feels like' she said 'to know that a member of your family has been murdered in cold blood. That is why we stand in solidarity with the community in Ferguson'. Another speaker Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg, a musician who died in 2008 after being arrested and 'restrained' by police in south London&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/26/ferguson-grand-jury-decision-protest-us-embassy-london">said</a>&nbsp; “What are they supposed to do? We try to go peacefully, just ask for the truth but all we keep getting is lies.” </p> <p>The anger and pain that day were palpable, not only in solidarity with Ferguson but in remembrance of those who have been killed in Britain at the hands of the police, prison officers, and private guards employed by the immigration service. Some of their names are fairly widely known - <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/celldeaths/article/0,2763,195387,00.html">Joy Gardner</a> in 1993, <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/jury-applauded-for-critical-inquest-verdict/">Sean Rigg</a> in 2008, <a href="http://justice4paps.wordpress.com/">Habib (Paps) Ullah</a> in (2008), <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/justice-blindfolded-the-case-of-jimmy-mubenga/">Jimmy Mubenga</a> in 2010 and <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-spotlight-is-back-on-black-deaths-at-the-hands-of-police/">Mark Duggan</a> in 2011. Others have not been mentioned by the mainstream media, they will not be remembered by British society but their deaths remain a testimony to the kind of country we live in. </p> <p>The numbers speak for themselves- in 2014 alone there were some 231 <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/statistics/deaths-in-prison">deaths in prison</a>, <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/statistics/deaths-of-immigration-detainees">immigration</a> and <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/statistics/deaths-in-police-custody">police custody</a> and in other contact with the police. </p> <p>What is it like to lose a loved one in these circumstances? How far is it possible to get justice from the complex and baffling apparatus which is the Criminal Justice System (CJS)? What is the alternative? These are the themes and questions addressed by Ken Fero's <a href="http://vimeo.com/34633260">five films</a> about Black deaths at the hands of the police in Britain. Made over the last three decades, each with the same intense empathy with the Black working class families who are fighting for justice, they tell of a continuing struggle uniquely relevant to the future. The most well-known, <em>Injustice</em> ( 2001), which Fero co-directed with writer Tariq Mehmood&nbsp; traces the struggles of the families of Joy Gardner, Ibrahim Sey, Brian Douglas, Shiji Lapite and Wayne Douglas who died at the hands of the police between July 1993 and December 1995. </p> <p>Despite winning international awards and being shown on television in South Africa, New Zealand, Greece, Iran and on cable channels in the US, not one of Fero's films has ever been shown on the BBC or Channel 4. He told me, 'Injustice has been screened&nbsp; internationally. In the UK it has been shown in cinemas across the country and by the British Film Institute,&nbsp; but UK broadcasters&nbsp; refused to take the risk of libel action as the police are accused of murder. The BBC negotiated for two years about showing it and then claimed it was out of date'.&nbsp; </p> <p>The films demonstrate stark parallels with the US. Shiji Lapite was walking home from a restaurant in East London when he was grabbed by the neck and brought to the ground by three police officers for 'behaving suspiciously'. The neck hold (or choke hold in American usage) continued with all three officers on the ground and Shiji face down or on his side. The post mortem on his body revealed 'crushed bones at the front of the neck'. </p> <p>Ibrahim Sey, was celebrating the birth of his daughter at home when he appeared to have a mental breakdown. His wife called the police assuming that they would take him to hospital. They took him instead to Ilford police station where he was thrown to the ground&nbsp; and sprayed with CS gas at close quarters. He was placed face down by four police officers who kept him 'restrained' for 15 minutes. Eventually,&nbsp; noticing that he was not breathing, one of them called an ambulance. When it arrived Ibrahim was dead - still in handcuffs and face down. As his cousin Kura Jagne Njie says, in <em>Injustice</em>, 'They treated him like an animal. He was nothing... He wasn't worth it...another piece of meat to them.'&nbsp; </p> <p>In the case of Joy Gardner, the suffocation was by other horrific means. Early one morning five policemen and women burst into her&nbsp; home. They claimed she had overstayed her visa. She was thrown to the ground and forced face down on the floor in front of her five year old son Graeme. Then sitting on her body, they bound her hands to her side with a leather belt, strapped her legs together, shackled her feet and wound thirteen yards of surgical tape round her head to gag her. <em>Injustice</em> shows her mother, the indefatigable Myrna Simpson, unable to hold back her tears as she speaks at a public meeting. 'It has been a long struggle', she says, 'it has been a lot of pain for me and my family and for Graeme...Sometimes I break down in court. I couldn't take in what I was listening to. I couldn't believe that human beings could be so cruel to another human being. You don't know how much I cry. My tears will catch them.'&nbsp; </p> <p>In Britain as in the US, racist stereotypes are used to justify murder. While Mike Brown was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ferguson-decision-officer-darren-wilson-describes-michael-brown-as-like-hulk-hogan-and-a-demon-in-published-testimony-9881464.html">described</a> as 'like Hulk Hogan' and a 'demon', Jimmy Mubenga was <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/01/jimmy-mubenga-case-guard-not-remember-i-cant-breathe-shouts">described</a> by G4S officers recently as 'extremely strong', Shiji who was five foot ten and of medium build was <a href="http://vimeo.com/34633260">described</a> as 'the biggest, strongest most violent black man'&nbsp; and Joy Gardner the 'most violent woman' they had ever encountered. </p> <p>Not one of the families in Fero's films achieved justice despite negotiating every difficult step of the Criminal Justice System. Even verdicts of unlawful killing by juries in the cases of Shiji and Ibrahim did not lead to police officers being jailed. Faced with incontrovertible evidence, as Francis Webber <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/justice-blindfolded-the-case-of-jimmy-mubenga/">noted</a> recently, inquest juries have delivered at least nine verdicts of unlawful killing in the last twenty five years, but no police officer has ever been convicted of homicide.&nbsp; As Fero and Mehmood say in their <a href="http://www.injusticefilm.co.uk/screeninginjustice.html">Director's Statement </a>&nbsp;for <em>Injustice</em>, the message is that &nbsp;'in the UK, police officers can kill, safe in the knowledge that they will not be prosecuted for their actions, even if they are found by a jury to have been unlawfully killed'.</p><p></p><iframe width="450" height="280" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/162tXWspWog" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><p>Gradually the families realise that justice under the law is a mirage and <em>Injustice</em> shows their attitudes changing. Brian Douglas' sister, Brenda Weinberg, says bitterly, "I can't grieve, I can't put Brian to rest ever if I know someone's walking around out there responsible for his death and they haven't been brought to justice. The only thing that does happen is that as the time gets longer it's any justice. It can be legal justice or street justice. I don't really care anymore." </p> <p>In <em>Burn</em> (2014), his latest film, Fero once again collaborates with Mehmood. The film looks at&nbsp; the riots which followed Mark Duggan's death and explores the theme of&nbsp; collective memory. As always in Fero's films the main protagonists are working class. They include the families of four people who lost their lives at the hands of the police - Joy Gardner, Cynthia Jarrett, Roger Sylvester and Mark Duggan - who all live in a 3 mile radius of each other in the London Borough of Haringey. Interspersed with these voices, and highlighting them, are Ken Fero's own poems. </p> <p>Stafford Scott of Tottenham Rights Centre traces the thread of collective memory, 'Seven and eight year olds hear Mark Duggan's name and want to know more...they are going to grow up and be stopped by police officers on the street.... they don't need to be stopped and searched a hundred times... It needs to happen once or twice, a bad encounter. All they need is something that reaffirms the community's experience and then it becomes their experience and it runs deep.' </p> <p>Speaking of the riots, Minkah Adofo, of the United Families and Friends Campaign&nbsp; (a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody set up in 1999) says, 'Even though we may have a temporary respite, as long as the issue of justice is not being addressed then you can expect to see more fires'. </p> <p>The community's&nbsp; view of the riots is counterposed with that of the police. Chief Superintendent Colin Morgan, for example, says that the police must learn to monitor social media even more 'If there is a significant incident, where people are aggrieved, possibly with the police... we must stay ahead of that use our own intelligence and be able to mobilise resources'. He is unable to see any cause for the 2011 riots 'What I saw was opportunism, criminality ...I struggled with what I saw to link it to any form of rebellion'.</p> <p>While police officers like Morgan may appear, on the face of it, very different from their American counterparts, there are clearly enormous similarities - a subject of discussion at next week's <a href="http://fergusonsolidaritytour.com/">Ferguson Solidarity Tour</a> which is coming to London from the US. The main difference seems to be that the use of guns in Britain is less frequent. The use of Tasers, which, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/02/guns-tasers-kill-black-people-us-ferguson-uk-review">according</a> to the UN Committee against Torture, are as lethal as firearms is on the increase. In the last two months of 2014 alone two people <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/22/man-dies-shot-taser-ipcc-police-staffordshire-suspected-burglary">died</a> after being tasered.&nbsp;</p> <p>How do people in the US react to Fero's films? He tells me about a screening of&nbsp; <em>Injustice</em> for the families of&nbsp; those killed by the police in Los Angeles, 'They were shocked!', he says,&nbsp; 'they said,&nbsp; in America, when the police kill people it is usually by shooting them. It is systematic and clinical. They were shocked by the level of sustained physical brutality in Britain'.</p> <p>As <em>Burn</em> indicates, and history demonstrates, riots&nbsp; are used by the state to increase coercion. After the 1981 riots, for example, Thatcher considered arming the police but settled on <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16313781">new equipment</a> and new tactics like <a href="http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/police/docs/mcveigh.htm">'saturation policing'</a> which had been developed in Northern Ireland.&nbsp; </p> <p>One is left wondering what form increased coercion will take in this neoliberal era. With Cameron's promised cuts in police numbers accompanied by the use of rapid response units&nbsp; greater use of privatised forces is likely, which, in the light of G4S and Serco's record will make things worse. These forces and the police themselves, like their <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/how-americas-police-became-army-1033-program-264537">counterparts in the US</a>, may well use military hardware and tactics from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. </p> <p><em>Burn</em> makes it clear that what we are facing is not just a crisis in relations between the state and the Black communities. As Minkah Adofo says, near the end of the film 'This is a crisis of democracy...How we as a society are going to be governed - are we going to be governed by just these elites and these lawless police? Or are we going to be governed by the people? With that understanding we can build up a base of resistance'.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light Unorthodocs G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Amrit Wilson Thu, 21 Jan 2016 13:17:51 +0000 Amrit Wilson 99175 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The report which could destroy Britain’s immigration prisons https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/ian-dunt/report-which-could-destroy-britain-s-immigration-prisons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The former prisons Ombudsman Stephen Shaw has urged ministers to reduce immigration detention “boldly and without delay”.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne-HMIP-entrance-to-healthcare_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne-HMIP-entrance-to-healthcare_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="346" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Entrance to healthcare, The Verne Immigration Removal Centre (HMIP)</span></span></span></p><p>The Home Office never wanted this report. It was only <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/uk-immigration-detention-truth-is-out">after a string of stories about abusive guards and sexual attacks</a> that Stephen Shaw’s inquiry into Britain’s immigration detention centres was even commissioned.</p> <p>Even then, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-secretary-announces-independent-review-of-welfare-in-detention">they tried to narrow its remit</a>. It was limited to assessing detainees’ welfare and there was to be no discussion about the principle of detention itself.</p> <p>As if that weren’t restrictive enough, officials also didn’t want Shaw, a former prisons ombudsman, addressing the issue of how long detainees are held. Under the current system, they never know how long they’ll be imprisoned. It could be hours or it could be years. That uncertainty can sometimes drive them mad. It is a uniquely bureaucratic form of mental torture.</p> <p>Shaw refused to comply. It is simply impossible to assess detainee welfare without taking into account how long they’re detained and the oppressive uncertainty of indefinite detention. “I have seen nothing in my terms of reference to prevent me discussing the length of detention,” he wrote in the foreword, “and I have done so”.</p> <p>He has proved a more robust investigator than they anticipated. The report, which was published yesterday afternoon, is damning. It vindicates almost every argument made by campaigners against immigration detention centres. Its findings suggest that the current detention system fails on moral, practical, and financial grounds.</p> <p>But Shaw is keen to spare Theresa May’s blushes, so he doesn’t make these findings explicit. They need some decoding.</p> <p>In his conclusion, he finds that the academic literature “demonstrates incontrovertibly that detention in and of itself undermines welfare and contributes to vulnerability”. He then says something very interesting:</p> <p>“I need hardly say that a policy resulting in such outcomes will only be ethical if everything is done to mitigate the impact, and if countervailing benefits of the policy can be shown.”</p> <p>Shaw stops there. He doesn’t say whether those conditions are met. So we have to piece together whether they are from the rest of his report.</p> <p>It isn’t hard. The sections on mitigating the impact of detention are pretty clear.</p> <p>Shaw’s review of the international evidence concludes:</p> <p>“There is a consistent finding from all the studies carried out across the globe and from different academic viewpoints that immigration detention has a negative impact on detainees’ mental health. The impact on mental health increases the longer detention continues.”</p> <p>That is particularly alarming given the UK has no time limit on detention and the Conservatives flatly refuse to institute one.</p> <p>Shaw also finds that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/frank-arnold/routine-neglect-by-uk-government-contracted-doctors-brings-torture-victims-f">Rule 35, which is supposed to prevent victims of torture being forced into detention</a>, “does not do what it is intended to do”. He calls for a ban on pregnant women in detention and a “presumption against detention” for victims of sexual violence or female genital mutilation, people with learning difficulties, transgender people or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.</p> <p>So according to Shaw’s own report, the impact of detention has not been mitigated.</p> <p>On the “countervailing benefits” of the policy, Shaw is, if anything, even more critical. Detention is supposed to be a last resort to secure someone’s deportation. But as public concern over immigration has increased, so has the size of the detention estate. It held 200 asylum seekers in 1987 and now has over 3,000. The number of people detained at one time or another during the year is ten times that.</p> <p>Shaw concludes:</p> <p>“My analysis calls into question whether there is… any correlation at all between the size of the detainee population and the number of successful removals of those with no right to remain in the UK.”</p> <p>He then adds, rather pointedly: “In this light, it is particularly surprising that the Home Office makes so little use of alternatives to detention.”</p> <p>So even on its own terms — as a method of ensuring deportations — the detention system is a failure.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DUNGAVELFENCE_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DUNGAVELFENCE_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre, Sunday 25 October 2015 (Sally Martinez)</span></span></span></p> <p>Shaw’s answer to his question is clear: no, everything is not being done to mitigate the impact of detention and no, the Home Office can’t show the countervailing benefits of the policy. The conclusion is inevitable, by the standards he himself has set: Britain’s immigration detention system is unethical.</p> <p>The report recommends a reduction in the number of people being detained. “Immigration detention has increased, is increasing, and it ought to be reduced,” Shaw writes. “If ministers and their officials decide to follow the direction pointed by my report, I trust they will do so boldly and without delay.”</p> <p>That demand couldn’t come at a better time. The Home Office has been quietly putting the brakes on the expansion of the detention estate for months now. One centre was recently closed while another had its expansion cancelled. Campaigners suspect that the top of the department has become alarmed at the stories coming out the detention centres and the escalating costs of maintaining them. A series of internal reviews were commissioned. And then today’s report came out.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-01-14/HCWS470/">government response</a> is encouraging – which isn’t something you say very often when it comes to detention. It says it accepts “the broad thrust of [Shaw’s] recommendations”. It lists a series of reforms (the devil will be in the details) and then concludes:</p> <p>“The government expects these reforms… to lead to a reduction in the number of those detained.”</p> <p>It is a sentence anti-detention campaigners have waited a long time for. The government is now explicitly aiming to detain fewer people.</p> <p>This is not a total victory. There is nothing in the report – or the government response – about a time limit. And the managed decline of the detention estate will undoubtedly be done in the usual haphazard manner which the Home Office does everything. But the ship has started to turn.</p> <p>Shaw may have spared the home secretary’s blushes, but his report could be a turning point in the secret world of Britain’s detention centres.</p><hr /><p><br />This piece was first published at <a href="http://politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/01/15/the-report-which-could-destroy-britain-s-immigration-detenti">politics.co.uk</a>. </p><p>Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons, A report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, can be found here in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf">PDF</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/uk-immigration-detention-truth-is-out">UK immigration detention: the truth is out</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/satisfactory-uk-immigration-lock-up-that-samaritans-dare-not-vis">Satisfactory? The UK immigration lock-up that Samaritans dare not visit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller-clare-sambrook/national-shame-that-is-healthcare-in-uk-immigration-detention">The national shame that is healthcare in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/medical-care-in-uk-detention-centre-lamentable-failure-brian-dalrymple-inque">Medical care in UK detention centre a &#039;lamentable failure&#039;: Brian Dalrymple inquest report</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/woman-stands-naked-on-airport-runway-takes-overdose">Woman stands naked on airport runway, takes overdose</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/dungavel-irc-former-detainees/we-former-detainees-demand-closure-of-dungavel">‘We, former detainees, demand the closure of Dungavel immigration removal centre’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Ian Dunt Fri, 15 Jan 2016 20:38:34 +0000 Ian Dunt 99137 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For years the <a href="http://www.howardleague.org">Howard League</a> and others have warned of abuse of child inmates in secure training centres. Now the BBC’s Panorama programme has caught it on camera.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4S Team Leader, Anthony. Now suspended.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4S Team Leader, Anthony. Now suspended.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All I asked you to do was clean this fucking door and you aint!' G4S officer to 14 year old boy (BBC Panorama)</span></span></span></p><p>Billy is a troubled 14-year-old boy. He stands at the door of the classroom, shouting.
 Moments later, a burly officer storms into the room. He shouts in the boy’s face and then grabs him, pushing him on to a table, twisting his arms behind his back, and calling for others to help.

</p> <p>As a second officer arrives, Billy cries in pain: “Aaarrgh, I can’t breathe... Aaarrgh, what are you doing?” </p> <p>The senior officer has his fingers on the boy’s throat. 

</p> <p>This was only one of several scenes of child cruelty revealed in footage recorded by an undercover reporter for last night’s BBC <em>Panorama</em> documentary on the G4S-run Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent.

</p> <p>In other scenes a boy is goaded and attacked by an officer because of the football team he supports. Another boy, who has self-harmed, is subjected to unlawful violent restraint on the anniversary of his mother’s death.

</p> <p>The documentary will have shocked viewers, but the Howard League for Penal Reform has warned for years about systemic problems in secure training centres.

</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400_3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400_3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>In April 2004,<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-prom">15-year-old Gareth Myatt</a> died from choking on his own vomit while being restrained by G4S staff at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Northamptonshire.

</p> <p>Four months later, 14-year-old <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Adam Rickwood</a> was found hanging in his cell at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham, run by Serco. An inquest later found that Adam had been unlawfully restrained and this had contributed to his death.
</p> <p>In <a href="http://www.crae.org.uk/news/high-court-issues-damning-judgment-on-%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%CB%9Cwidespread-unlawful-use-of-restraint-in-child-prisons-run-by-g4s-and-serco/">2012, a High Court judge ruled</a> that the unlawful use of restraint had been widespread in privately-run secure training centres for at least a decade.
</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="135" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span>The Howard League legal team has dealt with numerous concerns raised by or on behalf of children at Medway dating from at least 2008. The team has also worked with adults who were detained there as children and who have raised concerns about their treatment.

</p> <p>Children at Medway with whom the charity has worked include a 14-year-old boy, who was being restrained once a fortnight on average. Despite our numerous requests, we were never provided with CCTV evidence of the incidents. Our complaints have been investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, and we await its report.

</p> <p>We made a safeguarding referral for an asthmatic 16-year-old boy, who complained that, while he was in education, he was restrained by staff who squeezed his head and neck, causing him to fall to the floor.

</p> <p>We also made a referral for a 15-year-old boy, whose mother had contacted us. She said that staff at Medway had taken her son into his room, where there were no cameras, and hit him about the head.</p> <p>A 16-year-old girl at Medway reported being poked and called names by staff. She said that they had forced their way into her room after she had placed a mattress against a viewing panel while on a constant watch. We made a safeguarding referral, which was investigated.

</p> <p>Invariably the Howard League’s complaints are not upheld, often because of a lack of CCTV evidence corroborating the child’s version of events. </p> <p>Last night’s <em>Panorama</em>&nbsp;included footage of violent incidents involving staff that took place away from the view of CCTV cameras.</p> <p>So what happens next?
 Some of the most troubling scenes in the documentary showed institutionalised fraud being perpetrated to cover up the abuse. Three G4S officers are filmed concocting a story to justify the assault on the grieving boy.</p> <p>Children in Medway are not safe, and other places must be found for them within days. Then G4S’s contract to run this rotten institution should be rescinded.

 Enough is enough. We don’t need further reviews or vague promises that lessons will be learned. It is time for ministers to rescind G4S’s contract and explore whether this toxic company should repay the taxpayers’ money it has received in recent years. It has been paid to look after children and it has failed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Notes:</h2> <p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.</p> <p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The BBC <em>Panorama</em> programme, ‘Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed’, was broadcast on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 11 January and is <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06ymzly/panorama-teenage-prison-abuse-exposed">available on BBC iPlayer</a>.</p> <p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In August 2013, the Howard League wrote an open letter to the then Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, outlining that the complaints system in place for secure training centres was ineffective and not sufficiently independent. A month later, the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman assumed jurisdiction of complaints from children in secure training centres. The letter can be viewed in PDF <a href="https://d19ylpo4aovc7m.cloudfront.net/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Legal/Inadequacy_of_complaints_sytem_for_children_in_STCs.pdf">here</a>.</p> <p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The Howard League has published a report examining the use of force on children in custody. <em>Twisted</em> can be viewed in PDF <a href="http://www.howardleague.org/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Restraint.pdf">here</a>.</p> <p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The Howard League’s report, <em>Corporate Crime? A dossier on the failure of privatisation in the criminal justice system</em>, can be viewed in PDF <a href="https://d19ylpo4aovc7m.cloudfront.net/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Privatisation_audit_-_full_version.pdf">here</a>.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Rob Preece Tue, 12 Jan 2016 20:14:23 +0000 Rob Preece 99055 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/antony-loewenstein/disaster-capitalism-and-outsourcing-of-violence-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Corporations bleed what profits they can from disaster. Democracy is replaced by a business plan. An excerpt from Antony Loewenstein’s <em>Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DisasterCapitalismCover-blog-savedforweb-a6b5ca6931d3b44c6d72c99876a6ec89.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DisasterCapitalismCover-blog-savedforweb-a6b5ca6931d3b44c6d72c99876a6ec89.jpg" alt="" title="" width="347" height="542" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><ul><li><em><em><em>“I am very passionate about our values and building this company</em> not to make a profit. If profit is an immediate byproduct, then<em> </em><em>that’s wonderful. If you can make it have an impact on society,</em><em> </em><em>people’s</em><em> </em><em>lives and make it fun, crumbs, then we don’t have to</em><em> </em><em>worry about making this profit or that. It happens naturally.</em></em>”</em></li><li><em><span>Former Serco chief executive Christopher Hyman, 2006</span></em></li><li><em><span><br /></span></em></li></ul><ul><li><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-small'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CHRIS-HYMAN-RACING-GEAR300.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_small/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CHRIS-HYMAN-RACING-GEAR300.jpg" alt="" title="" width="160" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-small imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chris Hyman, ex-boss Serco</span></span></span>I was driven to a poor suburb to the north of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire. Children and parents played in the street. The houses looked shabby, some painted various shades of red, with boarded-up windows. I arrived with local activists at a nondescript property. Michael, who was from Cameroon, opened the door and welcomed us warmly in fluent English.</li></ul> <p>The house was managed by British multinational G4S. It was a damp-smelling, three-storey building with steep stairs. Though the tenants received little money from the state and were not legally allowed to work, they had to buy cleaning products and other essentials for themselves. Clearly, this was not a priority. In the kitchen I saw the effect of leaking water, grimy around the sink. A mop stood in the corner. I was told the floor remained stained even after washing.</p><p>The back garden was overgrown, with rubbish in the tall grass, and old cushions, a washing machine, and boxes were piled up in a small shed. The shower was covered with mold—there was usually hot water, but there had been a period in the winter when it ran cold for three months.</p><p>In the living room, a form bearing a G4S logo noted the times when a G4S Housing Officer had visited, together with the list of asylum-seeker tenants, who had originated from many nations. The Housing Officers visited once a month, and although Michael said they were often friendly, they rarely took action to remedy the property’s many problems.</p><p>Since he had been in the place for nine months, I asked Michael why he had not cleaned it up. He would have to buy gloves to do it, he said—another expense—and it was easier to ignore it. The carpet on the stairs was peeling, posing a danger to residents and visitors.</p><p>Most bedrooms were occupied by two people, each with a single bed. Every room had a lock on the door. Michael said he got along with his housemates—a small mercy in the cramped space available—and he was lucky to have the attic on his own, which afforded a view over the drab city. The room contained a Bible, a laptop—though no chair—coins, shoes, suitcases, soap, and shampoo. Water had leaked from the ceiling for months, and G4S had not fixed it. It was cold and depressing, though I was visiting in July, at the height of summer.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/yard_0_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/yard_0_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Back yard of a G4S house in Sheffield (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p><span>Michael was on a cocktail of drugs for anxiety and depression, awaiting a decision on his asylum claim after a re-application. He said he could not return to Cameroon as a result of political repression against his family. He did not want to speak on the record, and I understood why: he felt vulnerable. Nonetheless, Michael was articulate, bright, and despairing. The state of his housing and the limbo in which his asylum claim languished made him deeply unhappy—though he was one of the lucky ones, receiving state-provided weekly counseling. &nbsp;Many others were left to fend for themselves, often ending up on the streets.</span></p> <p>A cool breeze ran through the property. The heaters worked in the winter, but with leaking water, living with other migrants in a similar state of inertia and with no paid work, the situation was guaranteed to generate fluctuating moods—which was surely the point. Michael sometimes volunteered with a local NGO to talk to schoolchildren about asylum seekers, in order to occupy his mind. </p><p>This G4S house was a disgrace, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. Little money or care had been expended on it, or many others like it, because that would require funds whose use would damage the bottom line of a company whose sole aim was profit. </p><p>A 2013 Home Office committee, convened to investigate why G4S and Serco had not fulfilled their contract to provide decent housing, while allowing subcontractors to bully tenants, heard from James Thorburn, Serco’s managing director of home affairs, who explained: “We care for a lot of vulnerable people and we run two immigration centers, so we understand the immigration market.”</p><h2>Making money from misery</h2> <p>Thorburn gave an almost identical statement in late 2014, when Serco <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/serco-given-yarl-s-wood-immigration-contract-despite-vast-failings-9880772.html">won another contract</a> to continue running the Yarl’s Wood detention center. Although the 2013 Home Office committee had elicited admissions from officials that it was not sensible to grant housing contracts to organizations with no experience running them, the contracts had already been signed, and G4S had no fear of losing them. As elsewhere, unaccountability functioned as a core value of disaster capitalism. It’s an ideology that thrives of making money from misery, in the West and the rest, from immigration to war and aid to mining.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/boardedup_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/boardedup_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S houses, Sheffield</span></span></span>We drove a short distance to another G4S property. It was a three-storey building with nine tenants, in better condition and tidier than the first. An Iranian man, Bozorg, said his housemate had cleaned the place for Ramadan. There was a G4S sign in the entrance hall that read: “This house has now been professionally cleaned: Please keep it clean and tidy at all times.” The G4S “House Rules” read like a prison manual for good behavior. </p><p>The company barely provided anything of use, and Bozorg said that nothing had been done about an infestation of mice. He had clashed with an African housemate, and did not feel secure. The back garden was overgrown and dirty, and G4S had not sent anybody to clear it up. </p><p>Bozorg had been in Britain for six years, and had not seen his wife and two children during that time. He broke down when recounting a conversation with his wife in which she had told him that his sons, twelve and eight, had been teased at school in Iran because he was in Britain and not around to support them. “What can I do?” he begged, seeking answers from me that I was unable to provide. I turned away, embarrassed. He was on heavy medication to manage the depression and anxiety. Because of a bad back, he was unable to sleep on a bed, so he lay on a mattress on the floor.</p> <p>A local NGO requested that Bozorg be moved to another G4S property, because his physical condition meant that he could not climb the stairs in the middle of the night to relieve himself. He showed me the plastic bottle into which he urinated. He showered every three days, when he found the strength to pull himself up the stairs.</p> <p>He had been waiting for years for a final resolution of his asylum claim, but his previous solicitor had not represented him properly. Bozorg was now filing a complaint against him. It was common for lawyers, paid badly by the state, simply to give up on cases, leaving their clients without representation. Successive governments have progressively cut legal aid, leaving thousands of asylum seekers with no real chance of success. The system is guaranteed to leave asylum seekers in limbo, while enriching the countless corporations that leech off it.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo 2009 RGB JPGz_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo 2009 RGB JPGz_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="273" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Bozorg was keen to tell me his story. He was a Christian and this caused him political problems in Iran. There was no way to verify his story or that of Michael before him. Robert, the local campaigner, knew both men and said it was likely that they would eventually both be granted asylum, though it might take some years. But there was no excuse to house people indefinitely in inadequate accommodation while they awaited resolution of their cases. This property was in far better shape than the one I had visited earlier; but with nine people living in a relatively small place, only two working burners on the stove, and not enough refrigerator space for everyone’s food, Bozorg was desperate to move.</p> <p>Asylum Help was a service that advertised itself as helping refugees to understand the asylum process. I saw an A4 sheet of paper advertising it in the hallway. Anyone who called the number was put on hold for at least thirty minutes, and the services then offered were barely satisfactory. This situation was repeated across the country, with few of the asylum seekers having a chance to be heard. The media was largely uninterested, and the Home Office and charity bureaucracy resented having to talk to journalists and migrants at all. Activists and immigrants all told me that the system was close to useless.</p><h2>Thriving profiteers</h2> <p>This reality of privatised housing for refugees was linked to the country’s housing crisis, both for asylum seekers and for the general population, but not for the reasons its defenders claimed. It had <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk/2015/08/17/pressure-grows-for-review-of-serco-g4s-asylum-housing/">not brought greater freedom</a> in the market; it had simply allowed profiteers to thrive, because the mantra of “self-reliance” for the poor — another term for hanging the underclass out to dry— had become official government policy. A select few companies — G4S, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Homes, Persimmon, Bellway, Redrow, Bovis, Crest Nicholson — had captured the market.</p> <p>John Grayson was a friendly and passionate sixty-nine-year-old activist. Over the years he had worked in adult education, as an independent researcher, teaching and researching on housing and social movements, and as a solidarity campaigner. He was now a member of <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk">Symaag</a>, the South Yorkshire Migration Asylum Action Group. “Councils used to provide housing through public funds,” he told me. “Then this all went through privatization by Labour and the Tories, and Labour often pushed for more privatisation of asylum-seeker services. Now private contractors do the dirty work for the state, but it’s the outsourcing of violence. The state should have a monopoly on these tasks.”</p><p>The rot deepened from 2012 onwards. Britain started privatising asylum housing, the Home Office giving most of the contracts to G4S and Serco. There was a plan to “nationalize providers,” and the country was divided into separate territories for the purpose—and Yorkshire was allocated to G4S. Asylum housing was only for those waiting for an outcome of their asylum claim, but many others were homeless. Grayson recalled a 2012 public meeting about the proposed plan at which a Zimbabwean man said: “I don’t want a prison guard as my landlord. I’ve seen G4S in South Africa.”</p><p>The G4S-run Angel Lodge in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, situated in the grounds of Wakefield prison, was dirty because the company would not pay for better services. The rooms were home to rats and cockroaches. Pregnant women were placed in poor housing with steep stairs. Food poisoning was common. Some private contractors did not pay council fees, and tenants quickly discovered that heating and electricity had been disconnected.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/passivejohn grayson inside out with label.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/passivejohn grayson inside out with label.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The British press rarely reported these conditions, instead high- lighting the “four-star” treatment given to migrants. The <em>Daily Mail </em>claimed in May 2014 that asylum seekers were being treated by G4S to luxury accommodation because the Angel Lodge “specialist hostel” was full. In truth, Angel Lodge was a grim facility that generated constant complaints from its residents.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Bungling, overcharging. . .</h2> <p>G4S is a <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/news/business/2014/04/g4s-global-security-company">behemoth</a>, operating in 125 countries with over 657,000 employees, whose work has included guarding prisoners in Israeli-run prisons in Palestine. In 2014 the company predicted huge growth in the Middle East, especially in Egypt and the Gulf states. In Britain alone, G4S controlled countless police tasks from 2012 onwards, in a partially privatized system whereby police officers continued to make arrests, but G4S staff processed suspects in their own “custody suites”.</p> <p>In 2014, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/nice-work-g4s-wins-118-million-guantánamo-contract">G4S won a $118 million contract</a> to deliver “base operating services” at the US military base at Guantánamo Bay, in Cuba (though reportedly <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/12/g4s-sells-subsidiary-operating-services-guantanamo-bay-jail">sold its share</a> in a subsidiary company soon after). G4S ran countless private prisons across Britain, despite being routinely fined for failing to meet its agreed targets. Occasionally, mainstream politicians criticised Serco, G4S, and other providers, but they did little to enforce greater accountability.</p> <p>Founded in 1929, Serco has been ubiquitous in British life, running ferries, London’s Docklands Light Railway, the National Physical Laboratory, prisons, defense contracts, education authorities, waste management, and a host of other operations. It has over 100,000 employees globally and controls prisons in Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. It operated with a $1.25 billion contract from the Obama administration to implement Obamacare, despite a Serco whistle-blower having alleged that its staff had “hardly any work to do” during a botched programme.</p> <p>Both Serco and G4S were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/25/government-still-paying-g4s-and-serco-millions-for-tagging-despite-ban">complicit in overcharging</a> by tens of millions of pounds for the electronic tagging of prisoners — some of whom were found to have been dead at the time — from the 2000s onwards. The Serious Fraud Office was tasked in 2013 with investigating, and in late 2014 Serco was forced to reimburse the Ministry of Justice to the tune of £68.5 million.</p> <p>The government’s solution to this fraud was not to address the reasons that privateers had been able to deceive them — loosely written contracts and little appetite for enforcement — but to hand over the contract to a Serco and G4S rival, Capita. This corporation, formed in 1994 with 64,000 staff, has become the largest beneficiary of outsourcing in Britain. By 2015, it ran all Cabinet Office civil-service training, as well as contracting with the Criminals Record Bureau to manage and maintain criminal records, plus many others. A “clean skin,” relatively speaking, Capita operated without the recent controversies surrounding Serco and G4S, and it appealed to governments craving commercial secrecy for services traditionally run by the state.</p> <p>The Home Office dispensed with the services of the UK Border Agency in 2013 for failing to manage properly a huge backlog of asylum cases. It then appointed Capita, with a £40 million contract. The company <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-20915896">bungled its delivery</a>, sending hundreds of text messages to individuals who were in the country legally, reading: <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-texts-expose-anti-migrant-british-policy-to-world">“Message from the UK Border Agency: You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain.”</a> Others who had chosen to leave Britain were sent messages by Capita wishing them a “pleasant journey”.</p> <p>This callousness was highlighted again during a 2015 inquiry that showed Tascor’s medical staff, operated by Capita, ignoring health warnings about a Pakistani man, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/phil-miller/capita-guard-%E2%80%9C-course-did-not-tell-me-what-to-do-if-someone-is-not-breathing%E2%80%9D">Tahir Mehmood</a>, before he died at Manchester airport in 2013. Corporate delays and incompetence caused Mehmood’s death, because contracted employees did not see information about his ongoing chest pains.</p> <h2>War, who is it good for?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Never miss a good opportunity to make money from disaster — this was the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/we-need-more-wars-head-of-controversial-private-outsourcing-firm-blames-lack-of-conflict-for-8952799.html">unofficial mantra</a> of Capita boss Paul Pindar, when he told the Public Accounts Committee in 2013 that the reason army recruitment was down was the “disadvantage that we actually have no wars on.” </p><p>These words were spoken before the battle against Islamic State militants had commenced. Capita was given the Ministry of Defence contract to manage advertising, marketing, and the processing of application forms for the army. Pindar’s brutally honest admission — that war was good for business — was refreshing. The fact that all of the conflicts Britain had engaged in since 9/11—including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — had been catastrophic failures was not mentioned as a factor in Pindar’s skewed reasoning. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Paul PINDAR.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Paul PINDAR.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="419" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Paul Pindar, former chief executive, Capita</span></span></span></p><p>Britain’s immigration policy had played a key role in generating profits for privateers. Britain had had an Immigration Act since 1971 that allowed the incarceration of asylum seekers in detention facilities or jails, and by the 1990s there was public pressure to manage the growing number of arriving migrants more stringently. </p><p>The Murdoch press and <em>Daily Mail </em>convinced many citizens that a nation with a harmonious past was being swamped with criminals. Activists argued that it was wholly inappropriate for individuals fleeing repression to be held in prison-like conditions; punishment as a deterrent had been the default setting for years, and yet it had not stemmed the flow of people. Refugees continued to arrive because the global crises that were the cause of the influx persisted.</p> <p>In October 2014, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/29/britain-immigration-system-in-chaos-report-reveals">detailed</a> the 11,000 asylum seekers waiting in Britain for at least seven years to hear if they would be allowed to stay; the further 29,000 migrants still awaiting official assessment of their applications; and the 50,000 immigrants who had had their claims rejected, then disappeared.</p> <p>The mad rush to privatise seemingly everything had few limits in the minds of its advocates. Since 2000, there had been lucrative investments in residential homes for the needy and mentally disturbed. Utilities were routinely outsourced, and prices increased. “Welfare to Work” contractors were lining their pockets, with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/17/welfare-to-work-programme-failing-disabled-and-ill-jobseekers-say-charities">little evidence of success</a>. </p><p>Despite public opposition, there were growing moves to privatize public libraries, schools, child protection services, and forests. University courses, the fight against climate change, and foreign aid were all endeavors that were routinely framed as having to serve commercial interests, rather than the common good.</p> <p>Prime Minister David Cameron has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2015/oct/02/nhs-one-way-road-privatisation">outsourced</a> hundreds of medical services during his time in power, including non-emergency ambulance services and community care. Robots were increasingly replacing nursing staff—a development welcomed by companies looking to cut costs. Reductions in government funding for public hospitals led to the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Rob Webster, warning in 2014 that the NHS would have to start charging patients £75 per night for a bed—an unthinkable measure in a supposedly public system. </p><p>In 2015, Britain’s only privately run NHS hospital, Hinchingbrooke, dropped its contractor, Circle Holdings. This was unsurprising, because a 2014 report found that there had been little oversight of the facility, as well as “poor hygiene levels.” and major problems in the emergency department. Taxpayers were forced to shell out for yet another tendering process.</p> <p>The prioritization of market competition over quality healthcare had become the default setting of forces pushing for the privatisation of the NHS itself, against the strong opposition of medical experts and the public. Even the US defense company Lockheed Martin was keen to bid on a £1 billion GP support service contract. </p> <p>According to journalist John Pilger, what the country had witnessed was “the replacement of democracy by a business plan for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope, every child born.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is an edited extract from Antony Loewenstein’s book, <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/1985-disaster-capitalism"><em>Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out of Catastrophe</em></a>, published by Verso. Full references appear in the book.&nbsp;</p> <p>The book has received the following endorsements:</p> <ul><li><strong>Noam Chomsky: </strong>“Chilling study, based on careful and courageous reporting, and illuminated with perceptive analysis, helps us understand all too well the saying that man is a wolf to man.”
</li><li>
<strong>John Pilger: </strong>“A journey into a world of mutated economics and corrupt politics that we ignore at our peril.”</li><li><strong>Naomi Klein:&nbsp;</strong>“The forces of disaster capitalism are increasingly on the defensive, but their attacks on the global commons have expanded in the years since I wrote <em>The Shock Doctrine</em>. I am very grateful that Antony Loewenstein has brought his meticulous reporting to this subject, and the result is a keenly observed and timely investigation into rampant resource plunder, privatized detention centers, and an array of other forms of corporate rapacity on four continents. This book will serve as a potent weapon for shock resistors around the world.”
</li><li><strong>Jeremy Scahill: </strong>“A devastating, incisive follow-up to Naomi Klein’s <em>The Shock Doctrine</em>.”
</li></ul> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-texts-expose-anti-migrant-british-policy-to-world">&#039;Go Home&#039; texts expose anti-migrant British policy to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/capita-guard-course-did-not-tell-me-what-to-do-if-someone-is-not-breathing">Capita guard: “The course did not tell me what to do if someone is not breathing”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/champagne-for-serco-shareholders-23-hour-lock-ins-for-serco-prisoners">Champagne for Serco shareholders, 23 hour lock-ins for Serco prisoners</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">Destitution, intimidation . . . How Britain shirks its obligations to asylum-seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/nice-work-g4s-wins-118-million-guant-namo-contract">Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller-clare-sambrook/national-shame-that-is-healthcare-in-uk-immigration-detention">The national shame that is healthcare in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-to-use-housing-to-hurt-people-britains-hostile-environment-for-asylum-s">How to use housing to hurt people: Britain&#039;s hostile environment for asylum seekers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Antony Loewenstein Tue, 03 Nov 2015 00:01:40 +0000 Antony Loewenstein 97328 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The world's largest security company shows how to undermine&nbsp;a rigorous and shocking account of racism and degrading treatment at a child prison.&nbsp;</span></li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/nareyG4SwillowJULY201.7.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/nareyG4SwillowJULY201.7.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>inset: Sir Martin Narey</span></span></span></p><p>If you were choosing a school for your child, or a nursing home for a parent with complex needs, at what point would you put an establishment on the ‘over my dead body’ pile? </p> <p>An appalling inspection report, published just two months ago? Ten members of staff dismissed within a 13-month period? Racism and illegal drug taking among staff? </p> <p>How about degrading treatment, or a person with a fractured wrist being denied hospital treatment for 15 hours? </p> <p>What if you heard that a very vulnerable individual had been <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">fatally restrained in the establishment in 2004</a>, his cries that he couldn’t breathe ignored by the staff holding him down? That staff were found to have nicknames like Clubber, Crusher and Mauler? Or that, five years ago, a manager was <a href="http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/institute-staff-member-dragged-teen-to-cell-1-898855">convicted of actual bodily harm</a> against a person in his care?</p> <p>Would you send your child or parent to a place like this?</p> <p>Sir Martin Narey says he would:&nbsp;“My test in visiting places of custody for over thirty years is to reflect about how I’d feel if my son or daughter were incarcerated there. In Rainsbrook’s case, I would consider him or her to be safe and to be generally well treated,” he writes, in a report that is being promoted as “independent” by the Youth Justice Board.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Review by former chief executive of&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/barnardos">@barnardos</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/martinnarey">@martinnarey</a>, finds Rainsbrook STC is a safe place for children&nbsp;<a href="http://t.co/teK366Q4D7">http://t.co/teK366Q4D7</a></p>— G4S UK (@G4S_UK)&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/G4S_UK/status/625991360160641024">July 28, 2015</a></blockquote><p></p><p><span>Rainsbrook secure training centre, in Northamptonshire, holds boys and girls aged 12 to 18. It is run for the government by the international security company G4S. The children’s charity Barnardo’s is contracted to provide the children with independent advocacy.</span></p> <p>Narey started his prison governor training in 1982 and was director-general of the prison service between 1998 and 2003. He was chief executive of Barnardo’s until 2011, after which he became the government’s ‘adoption tsar’ and now advises ministers on the education and training of children’s social workers. He has “offered occasional advice to G4S” on the care and custody of children since 2012.</p> <h2>“Completely unacceptable”</h2><p><span>In May, a </span><a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20February%202015%20%28PDF%29.pdf">joint report</a><span> from Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission judged G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre to be inadequate in keeping children safe. “Inadequate” is the lowest possible rating.</span></p> <p>There were 77 children detained at the time of the inspection. Details of 54 of the children show 17 per cent were disabled, 57 per cent had been in local authority care and a quarter were aged 15 or under.&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"> The inspectors found that, since their last visit, there had been “serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff, including some who were in positions of leadership”.&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"><span>“Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs,” the inspectors said. Staff collusion with children, and other misconduct, had caused children “distress and humiliation”.</span></p> <p>In two of the eight incidents of “serious staff misconduct” examined by inspectors, there was a delay in G4S action to protect children and, by the time of the inspection, there had been no review to analyse why such incidents had occurred and to explain the absence of whistleblowing.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Rainsbrook2015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Rainsbrook2015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (from G4S promotional video)</span></span></span></p><p><span>G4S issued a </span><a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2015/05/20/G4S%20responds%20to%20Rainsbrook%20OFSTED%20report/">press release</a><span> on the day the report was published, in which director of children’s services Paul Cook described the report as “extremely disappointing” whilst admitting that the misconduct was “completely unacceptable”. In the weeks that followed, many local authority youth offending teams </span><a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2015/07/24/Rainsbrook/">refused to have their children held in Rainsbrook</a><span>.</span></p><h2>“I do not believe that”</h2> <p>Last week, on Tuesday 28 July, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sir-martin-narey-publishes-new-report-on-rainsbrook-stc">announced on its website</a>: “An independent report on Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) by Sir Martin Narey has been published today”. Narey “clearly states that, in his view, Rainsbrook is a safe place for children and young people, they are treated kindly and, with many of them, tangible progress is made towards their rehabilitation”, its press release explained. It continues: </p> <p>“The YJB continues to work closely with G4S to ensure that the improvements recommended by the inspectorates are acted upon. We hope that an early re-inspection of Rainsbrook will be possible and will also confirm progress made.”</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">YJB CEO Lin Hinnigan's statement on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/martinnarey">@martinnarey</a>&nbsp;report on Rainsbrook STC: 'Rainsbrook is a safe place for children'&nbsp;<a href="http://t.co/KCvc6eiu81">http://t.co/KCvc6eiu81</a></p>— Youth Justice Board (@_YJB)&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/_YJB/status/625990015986888704">July 28, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>At the same time, <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2015/07/28/Review%20of%20Rainsbrook%20published/">G4S announced</a>: “A <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/martinnarey/rainsbrook-report-for-publication">new assessment</a><span>&nbsp;</span>of performance at the Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre for young offenders has found that the centre is not an unsafe place for children.” &nbsp;</p> <p>But the ‘news’ was not only that Rainsbrook had been given the all-clear by Narey, two months <em>after</em> the dreadful inspection report; it was also that, in Narey’s opinion, the prison had been safe when the inspectors said it wasn’t.<br /> <br /> The G4S press release quoted from Narey’s report: “The inspectorate conclusion was that in February of this year, at the time of the inspection, Rainsbrook was an inadequate institution and an unsafe place for children.&nbsp;I do not believe that.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rainsbrook-secure.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rainsbrook-secure.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="337" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (not from G4S promotional video)</span></span></span></p><p>Narey reports that the inadequate rating has had a “profound” effect on Rainsbrook’s staff, and that “Understandably, the publicity seems adversely to have affected recruitment .. (a Google search for Rainsbrook produces extremely negative results).” He observed a recruitment day when only two of eight shortlisted candidates (“including some employed from the Prison Service”) turned up.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />Local authorities refusing to have their children placed at the centre was “not unreasonable”, Narey says, given “the extensive news coverage.” (The inspectors’ damning findings had been reported by the BBC, ITV, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent and&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-‘degrading-treatment’-by-guards-high-on-">openDemocracy</a>.)</p><h2>“Free, unfettered access”</h2><p>The G4S press release states: “During his three-day visit to Rainsbrook. . . Sir Martin was both unsupervised and unaccompanied. He was not constrained by terms of reference and had free and unfettered access to the centre, the staff and the children.”</p><p><span><span>Narey’s report indicates that he looked through the file of at least one child formerly detained in the prison, watched CCTV footage of children being restrained and was briefed about the crimes that brought individual children to the centre (he reports the serious crimes of seven children).</span></span></p><p><span>According to </span><a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/472/article/42/made">statutory rules</a><span>: “No outside person shall be permitted to view a centre unless authorised by statute or the Secretary of State.” And: “No person viewing a centre shall be permitted to take a photograph, make a sketch or communicate with a trainee unless authorised by statute or the Secretary of State.”</span></p><p> Was Narey’s visit authorised? </p> <p>When I asked G4S about this, they passed me to Narey who explained: “before I visited Rainsbrook, I told the Secretary of State personally that I had been commissioned to review the care of children at Rainsbrook and — although G4S were paying for my time — that I was directing my report primarily to the YJB [Youth Justice Board]. He asked me simultaneously to let his office have a copy of my report.” </p> <p>G4S told me the Ministry of Justice was “aware and content” with Narey’s viewing of the centre, though I’m still no wiser as to whether the security company sought authorisation.</p> <h2>Independent from whom?</h2> <p>Although Narey’s report states that he has acted as a paid consultant to G4S since 2012, and the multinational was upfront in its press release about ‘compensating’ him for this latest piece of work, there was no disclosure about his role in advising G4S’s bid for the next seven-year Rainsbrook <a href="http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:157408-2014:TEXT:EN:HTML">contract, worth £92 million.</a></p> <p>When I asked him about that, Narey told me: “I worked for seven days for G4S last year advising them on the educational and child friendly aspects of their bid to retain the management of their STCs.” (Medway secure training centre is also out to tender, that contract is worth £89 million). Narey said he has “no role and no knowledge of the commercial aspects of their bid”. </p> <p>He wasn’t sure whether he is named in the bid or the appendices, adding that he had “made an offer to bring together a group of critically minded people to act as some sort of ethics committee overseeing the care of our most vulnerable incarcerated children” whoever might run the centres in future. </p> <p>When I pressed G4S on the matter, I was told that if Narey “was mentioned [in the bid] it would only have been in relation to his offer to set up an ethics committee”.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="395" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Private Eye 14-27 May 2010 (issue 1262)</span></span></span></p><p><span>Then there is the matter of rigour.</span></p><p>Narey describes his methodology in his report. He says he “drew keys and wandered through the centre at will”. And: “At my insistence I worked without terms of reference.” He spoke with children informally, not in “focus groups or in any other similarly contrived session”. </p> <p>The three inspectorates issued a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/response-to-sir-martin-nareys-report-on-rainsbrook-stc">joint statement</a> in response to Narey’s published assessment. They said that their own inspection was “deep and broad, as the public would expect”. </p><p>They explained: “Our inspectors drew keys, walked unaccompanied throughout the centre and conducted many one-to-one interviews with young people. We ate with them, visited their living units and observed their education. Together we spent a total of 70 inspector days at Rainsbrook. The judgements were firmly based on a wide range of evidence and rightly took account of what had happened in the months leading up to the inspection.” </p> <p>The team of seven inspectors was led by a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/413088/Ofsted_HMI_pen_portraits.pdf">registered social worker, with qualifications in child protection, human rights and psychology, and a background in managing children’s services in local authorities and the voluntary sector</a>. The organisations “fully stand by the findings and recommendations”.</p> <p>Children in custody are routinely surveyed during inspections, to establish their views and experiences from admission to preparation for discharge. One question relates to visits from family and friends. Inspectors reported in May that just 36 per cent of children at Rainsbrook received a weekly visit – significantly lower than the 52 per cent average across all secure training centres. On this matter, Narey recounts discussions with “one or two” girls who said their families found it difficult to visit, because of the prohibitive distance between home and prison. “I don’t believe that to be the case,” he concludes, citing the efforts staff made to persuade the parents of one girl to visit. </p> <p>Narey rejects the inspectorates’ judgement that a senior manager had prevented a child with a fractured wrist receiving medical treatment. Revealing that the senior manager in question was, in fact, the director of the centre, Narey observes: 
</p> <blockquote><p>“I interviewed the ex-Director specifically on this point. It is impossible to be certain what happened. So I find Ofsted’s certainty about his personal culpability — reflected in a decision last week to ask G4S to refer him to the Health and Care Professions Council — puzzling. On balance I consider that it is extremely unlikely that he would intentionally ignore clear medical advice and refuse to send a child to hospital, not least because to do so would have opened him up to potential dismissal and the end of his social work career.”</p></blockquote> <p>As someone who has made hundreds of freedom of information requests over the years, with many refusals on the basis of protecting personal data, I have to say that many of Narey’s disclosures are striking.</p> <p>Narey questions the dismissal of an “apparently popular” member of staff for piggy-backing on a child. “That member of staff might have considered his dismissal to be harsh,” he concludes, without giving a professional view as to whether G4S had followed employment law. </p> <p>He asserts: “For the last three years, and after every occasion that a child is restrained, he or she is interviewed by someone from Barnardo’s.” That claim contradicts inspection reports, and the advocacy service’s own annual reports for the past three years – which I obtained through an FOI request. The 2012/13 annual report states “no young person asked for an advocate to be present at their [restraint] debrief” and the 2013/14 report notes “young people requesting advocate support at their de-briefs is extremely low”. Such poor take-up “is worthy of further investigation by the centre”, the inspectorates concluded in May 2015.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Narey says he understands why “some of the incidents in 2014” had affected the inspectorates’ assessment of Rainsbrook. He shares “Ofsted’s horror” about one abusive event in particular. Despite this, he maintains that the inspection team was mistaken in its judgement: “The institution may be a better establishment now than at the time of the inspection. But I doubt that any such improvement has been significant enough to explain the discrepancy between the Inspectorates’ conclusion and mine.”</p><h2>“Utterly devastating”</h2><p><span>Four days ahead of Narey’s report, G4S uploaded a </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XD_65_0OII&amp;feature=youtu.be">promotional video</a><span> about Rainsbrook onto YouTube.</span></p> <p>Rainsbrook director John Parker, speaking on the video, calls the inspection findings “utterly devastating”, adding “clearly over the past 16 years the centre has worked tirelessly to achieve the highest outcomes for young people”. </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Our team at Rainsbrook talks about work to train, teach and rehabilitate some of the UK’s most troubled young people <a href="http://t.co/pDtIyBoGzK">http://t.co/pDtIyBoGzK</a></p>— G4S UK (@G4S_UK) <a href="https://twitter.com/G4S_UK/status/624534321362247680">July 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>No detail is given of the “serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff” reported by the three inspectorates in May, or the <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/~/media/Files/United%20Kingdom/Rainsbrook%20STC%20action%20plan.pdf">37 separate actions</a> G4S had to take in response to the inspection. Neither is there any reference to the <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/8.html">2012 High Court finding</a> that the three secure training centres operated by G4S, and the one run by Serco (closed at the end of last year), had been running unlawful restraint regimes&nbsp;from the time they opened&nbsp;for nearly a decade, possibly longer.</p><p> When the case reached the <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/34.html">Court of Appeal in 2013</a>, the systematic physical abuse was challenged by neither government, G4S nor Serco. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-xsmall'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="167" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xsmall imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>Rainsbrook’s 16-year history includes the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">horrific death of Gareth Myatt</a>, aged 15, of mixed race, and small for his age. He was admitted on a Friday and died of asphyxiation whilst being restrained by three G4S officers the following Monday. At the inquest into Gareth’s death John Parker, who was Rainsbrook’s director at the time, admitted that he had <a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1069514/youth-custody-myatt-inquiry-hears-restraint-failures">never read the Home Office manual</a> governing the use of restraint in his prison.</p> <p>Ofsted has a complaints procedure that G4S might have used to challenge the inspection process or conclusions. I asked G4S if they had done so. The answer I got was: “We made representations around the report.” There is no mention in Narey’s report of the multinational using official channels to dispute what the inspectors found.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><br />Author note: This piece is written in a personal capacity.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 06 Aug 2015 12:00:00 +0000 Carolyne Willow 95039 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/barbara-tagged-and-monitored-like-criminal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Barbara is an asylum seeker living in the UK. How the government’s immigration crackdown creates opportunities for humiliation and profit.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/barbaratagcrop2.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/barbaratagcrop2.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="209" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Asylum-seeker Barbara is forced to wear a tag (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Barbara (not her real name) is not a criminal. She travelled from an African country and claimed asylum in the UK.</p> <p>The Home Office refused her claim and locked her up for eight months in Yarl’s Wood, the Bedfordshire detention centre, run by Serco, notorious for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/truth-about-sexual-abuse-at-yarls-wood-detention-centre">guards’ sexual abuse of inmates</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jackie-long/%27headbutt-bitch%27-serco-guard-yarl%E2%80%99s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">racist behaviour</a>.</p> <p>“I really can’t talk about that, why do they treat us like that?” Barbara said.</p> <p>Barbara lodged an appeal, was released from Yarl’s Wood and eventually housed in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, with seven other women from various countries, sharing a room with one of them.</p> <p>She says that two weeks after her arrival in Barnsley: “Someone from the Home Office came and made me wear a tag. I have to report to the Sheffield centre and sign once a week. I am tagged and cannot go out before seven in the morning and have to be in by seven in the evening.”</p> <p>“They’re tagging all the women coming out of Yarl’s Wood,” Barbara said. “I know three women in Leeds wearing tags.”</p> <p>This is the first time in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">three years I have worked alongside asylum housing tenants</a> that I have encountered tagging. </p> <p>Electronic tagging is used in the criminal justice system to monitor offenders and to disrupt offending patterns.&nbsp;Imposing tags and curfews on asylum seekers, who have committed no crime, is an extension of this intrusive power that should worry all of us, for who is next?</p> <p><span>Asylum seekers are already closely monitored.&nbsp;</span><span>Three years ago the government contracted out the provision of asylum seeker housing to G4S, Serco and Reliance, three companies known among asylum seekers as the people who drove them to detention centres and locked them up.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Barbara’s&nbsp;</span><span>landlord is the international security and surveillance company G4S. </span><span>In every G4S house there is an attendance register in the hallway or kitchen that residents must sign. G4S is supposed to report absences to the Home Office.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span></span>Barbara’s<span>&nbsp;</span><span>all-women house is regularly checked by G4S staff — one of whom is a man. “The G4S woman is really nice, she tells us when she is coming in and shouts to us to check we’re in.” Barbara says. “The man never phones — he just bursts in.”</span></p> <p>Frustrated by the monitoring, Barbara says: “I asked them why they are tagging me, the man said something about us ‘absconding’.”</p> <p>Asylum housing is becoming an extension of detention.</p> <p>Last week I asked the Home Office which company was tagging asylum seekers like Barbara and why? When were the first tags imposed and how many asylum seekers have been tagged since then? </p> <p>The Home Office replied that they were using their powers under the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 to “electronically tag individuals who are liable to detention, but released on temporary admission or bail”. Decisions on tagging are being taken by Home Office civil servants – just like the decisions to send people to immigration detention centres.</p> <p>“Capita are responsible for the tagging, via an existing contract with the Ministry of Justice,” said the Home Office. A spokeswoman refused to say how many asylum seekers had been tagged nor when the practice had started. She said I was welcome to submit a Freedom of Information request.</p> <p>According to Capita’s website, the company was handed a new £400 million contract in 2013 from the Ministry of Justice for six years and was given flexibility to involve other government department. </p> <p>“The flexible, scalable service has been designed to enable other government bodies, for example, the probation services, the NHS and social care agencies, to procure related services,” says Capita.</p> <p>It is not unusual for Foreign National Prisoners (FNPs) when released on bail to be tagged. There were further proposals in the Queen’s Speech to extend this with a proposal that&nbsp;“All foreign criminals awaiting deportation will be fitted with satellite tracking tags.”</p> <p>But the use of tags on people living in asylum housing appears to be something new.</p> <p>G4S sources suggest that around twenty people have been tagged in the company’s Yorkshire asylum housing in the past few months.</p> <h2>A growing market</h2> <p>Barbara has to report each week in Sheffield, at Vulcan house the Home Office HQ. A few hundred yards away<strong> t</strong>he Capita building, with its heli pad, dominates the Eastern approach to Sheffield. (This past January Capita signed an extension to its existing seven-year <a href="http://www.capita.co.uk/news-and-opinion/news/2015/sheffield-council-extends-contract-with-capita.aspx">“transformation partnership with the Council</a>” which commenced in January 2009, by up to a further six years to 2022, earning the company “additional revenue of approximately £140-£170 million”. The company “will continue to deliver the core range of services on behalf of the Council, including ICT, revenues, benefits, HR and payroll and financial business transactions.”)</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/P1000760_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/P1000760_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Capita building, Sheffield (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p><span>Capita is one of a few huge companies for whom the government’s crackdown on immigration creates further opportunities for profit.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Barbara’s landlord, G4S, was involved in the unlawful killing of asylum seeker&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">Jimmy Mubenga</a>&nbsp;during a failed deportation attempt in October 2010.&nbsp;</p><p>After that, G4S lost its Home Office escort contract to a cut-price competitor called Reliance. The G4S workforce, among whom, the coroner had said, there was a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">“culture of racism”</a> transferred to Reliance.&nbsp;</p><p>Then, in August 2012, the outsourcing giant Capita bought Reliance and absorbed it into the Capita subsidiary&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tascor.co.uk/what-we-do/immigration-and-border/">Tascor</a>&nbsp;which claims to be “the largest private sector provider of secure immigration detainee escorting worldwide…Tascor manages and operates a number of the Home Office critical front line support functions….and are responsible for the safe and secure escorting and removal of more than 18,000 individuals from the UK each year.”&nbsp;</p><p><span>In 2014 prisons inspector Nick Hardwick observed that Tascor guards deporting people from Britain treated them as</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jun/02/deportees-prisons-inspector-tascor-private-security-staff">“commodities to be delivered rather than as vulnerable individuals deserving of attention”</a><span>.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Hardwick said: “some Tascor private security staff made loud animal noises, swore loudly in front of deportees and fell asleep, despite being in charge of someone identified as at risk of self-harm.”</p><p>Hardwick expressed concern that the private security escorts knew little of the outcome of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/jul/09/jimmy-mubenga-unlawfully-killed-inquest-jury">inquiry into the death of Jimmy Mubenga</a>&nbsp;while being restrained during a scheduled flight removal in 2010:&nbsp;“Escorts had still not been provided with training on the use of force in confined environments such as aircraft two-and-a-half years since inspectors first recommended it.”&nbsp;</p><p>It was Capita that facilitated the Home Office’s notorious “Go Home” campaign of 2013,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-texts-expose-anti-migrant-british-policy-to-world">sending around 58,000 texts</a>&nbsp;directly to people the Home Office had identified as “living illegally” in the UK. For reasons that have never been explained, the recipients included prominent civil rights activist and longstanding&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-texts-expose-anti-migrant-british-policy-to-world">British passport holder Suresh Grover</a>.</p><p>As Capita and the Home Office tag and humiliate women asylum seekers in Yorkshire they might ponder the fact that recently the high court ordered&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/19/judge-rules-terror-suspect-tpim-tag-removed-mental-health-concern">the removal of a terror suspect’s monitoring tag</a>&nbsp;because of a deterioration in his mental health. As the Guardian reports: “Requiring him to continue wearing the tag was a breach of article three of the European convention on human rights, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment.”&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Liked this article? Could you support us with&nbsp;</em></strong><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><strong><em>£3 a month</em></strong></a><strong><em>&nbsp;so that we can keep producing independent journalism?</em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">Destitution, intimidation . . . How Britain shirks its obligations to asylum-seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/meet-uk-s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">Meet the UK’s latest weapon against organised crime and asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/britain-has-become-open-prison-to-migrants">Britain has become an open prison to migrants</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/go-home-texts-expose-anti-migrant-british-policy-to-world">&#039;Go Home&#039; texts expose anti-migrant British policy to the world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/uk-immigration-detention-truth-is-out">UK immigration detention: the truth is out</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Tue, 30 Jun 2015 23:00:10 +0000 John Grayson 93962 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“They look at you like you’re a dog, making you strip is bang out of order.” The final shocking extract from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span>At Teesside Crown Court in May 2013 a man called </span><a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10429171.Darlington_prison_worker_found_guilty_of_sex_crimes/">John Cornwell was found guilty</a><span> of four charges of sexual assault of children, four charges of indecent assault of children, and two charges of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child. The offences dated back to the 1990s.</span></p> <p>Sentencing Cornwell to six years’ imprisonment,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10487806.Former_prison_officer_is_behind_bars_himself_after_child_sex_conviction/?ref=nt">the judge said</a>: “It is quite clear from the victims’ statements that untold misery has been caused. The effect will no doubt remain in their minds.”</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Cornwell convicted_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Cornwell convicted_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>After his conviction, Cornwell, aged 53, was sacked from his job. He was a support worker at Northallerton young offender institution in North Yorkshire a prison that had detained children until 1998.</span></p> <p>How might a man so thoroughly unsuitable have been employed by the prison service for so long? Was John Cornwell a one-off?</p><p><span>For some years now I have been trying to gather information on prison officers and governors who have been convicted of sexual offences. Knowing the risks of closed institutions, and the opportunities for abuse inherent in prison culture, I wanted to find out who among them had worked with locked up children. I asked the Ministry of Justice. My enquiries were not productive. Data protection exclusions in the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 stopped me from finding out the names of prisons in which convicted sex offenders had worked prior to conviction.</span></p> <p>Officers frequently transfer between prisons as their career progresses, and cross-deployment on split sites is common. It is reasonable to assume that many (if not all) of the following individuals worked at least some of the time with child prisoners.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Maber.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Maber.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Russell Thorne_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Russell Thorne_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.cps.gov.uk/thames_chiltern/cps_thames_and_chiltern_news/paedophile_john_maber_sentenced___hertfordshire/">John Maber</a><span> had been a prison officer for 18 years when the Crown Prosecution Service announced in July 2012 that he had been handed a life sentence “after pleading guilty to 27 offences of child sexual abuse including the rape of a baby girl aged just four months”.</span></p> <p>The police investigation found he was at the centre of a paedophile ring. After evidence was found on his laptop, hard drive and mobile phone, 15 more arrests were made.</p><p> At the time of his arrest, Maber was a senior officer at the adult prison Pentonville. </p> <p>Acting prison governor <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14192215">Russell Thorne</a> was jailed in July 2011 for five years for misconduct in a public office between 2006 and 2010 after coercing a young prisoner to engage in sexual acts with him at Downview women’s prison in Surrey. </p> <p>Allegations of sexual abuse were made about other prison officers at Downview, which had a dedicated unit for girls, and a <a href="http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/Review-launched-HMP-Downview-prison-sex-scandal/story-14412300-detail/story.html">prison service review was established in 2012</a>.</p><p> Surrey police established a special investigation, called <a href="http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/Review-launched-HMP-Downview-prison-sex-scandal/story-14412300-detail/story.html">Operation Daimler</a>. More than 200 past and present prisoners were interviewed. I asked the force how many girls were seen during this investigation and was appalled to learn that not a single child was interviewed. </p> <p>After being instructed by the Information Commissioner to release the information, the Ministry of Justice confirmed in May 2014 that four officers working at Downview prison had been suspended, dismissed or convicted between January 2009 and October 2013 “as a result of a sexually inappropriate behaviour with women prisoners or a young offender”. </p><p>This was seven months after a request was first lodged for separate data on the number of prison officers disciplined or convicted as a result of sexually inappropriate behavior with women prisoners and with girls in this Surrey prison. The oblique language avoids public acknowledgement of child sexual abuse (whether there is private recognition is impossible to assess).&nbsp; </p> <p>The Information Commissioner did not support disclosure of the report from the internal prison service investigation, stating it “could potentially cause unnecessary and unjustified distress” to the prison officers discussed within it. The report remains buried. </p> <p>A separate FOI request I made to Surrey County Council revealed that “less than 10” girls in Downview prison made sexual abuse allegations against staff in the five years to March 2013. I was told that these, and other allegations from girls, were either investigated internally by the prison, or no further action was taken. </p> <p>Had a statutory child protection investigation been undertaken by the local authority following any of the sexual abuse referrals, one obvious consideration would have been the role of strip-searching in facilitating abuse.</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girl_copy2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girl_copy2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></span></p><p>It is hard to imagine children more vulnerable than those in prison. These are children who have suffered enormous deprivations and grave violations in their early lives, many disabled and/or formerly looked after by local authorities, locked up tens and hundreds of miles away from home.</p><p>The ordinary practices of penal institutions feature in past institutional child abuse investigations. Removal of children’s clothes, the infliction of pain as restraint, petty rules and summary justice, as well as denial of fresh air and punishments for making complaints – all these, and more, are part of the murky history of children’s homes run by the state, religious bodies and the large children’s charities.</p><p>Take a look at the inquiries more than 20 years ago into the abuse of children in care in Leicestershire and Staffordshire&nbsp;<span>for the stark parallels with penal custody today. Children then were also deeply aware that they were society’s undesirables and unlikely to be believed if they ever reported abuse. Regimes were tolerated because they were seen to be successful in controlling wayward children. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The power that officers wield is immense. Until very recently, thousands of children entering and leaving young offender institutions every year were systematically forced to take off their underwear and endure additional ‘random’ searches. The former head of the Youth Justice Board, John Drew, told me that when strip-searching was rife, the implicit message to children was: “You’re mine, I can do anything I like with you.”</p> <p>Risk assessments as a pre-requisite of strip-searching have been required only very recently —&nbsp;since 2011 in secure training centres and since 2014 in young offender institutions. Only close monitoring could determine whether such assessments are being properly carried out. </p> <p>Under any circumstances, being strip-searched is a demeaning experience. At its least ugly, children are made to stand in front of officers, exposing the top and then the bottom half of their naked bodies, while handing over their underwear for inspection. </p> <p>It gets worse than that. During autumn 2013, prisons inspectors uncovered “at least four incidents of young people being strip-searched under restraint and not as a last resort” in Werrington young offender institution. That inspection report recommends the cessation of strip-searching under restraint, although it fails to question the legality of the officers’ actions. <a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/Werrington-2013.pdf">[PDF here]</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2005, as a member of the expert panel of <a href="https://d19ylpo4aovc7m.cloudfront.net/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Carlile_Report_pdf.pdf">Lord Carlile’s independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint</a>, solitary confinement and forcible strip-searching of children in penal custody, I encouraged child prisoners to talk about their experiences of being strip-searched. One 16-year-old girl told me: “For people who’ve been abused it’s not very nice.”</p> <p>Another 16-year-old girl in a different secure training centre told me: “The more you do, the less embarrassing it gets.” </p><p>She was to be released in two weeks’ time and wondered if she should ask for one of the six staff who had already seen her naked to undertake her final strip-search: “I could ask for one of them. It’s not nice for the whole centre to see you in the nude.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Barry Cummings.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Barry Cummings.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="183" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>At Durham Crown Court in June 2011 prison governor <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9019726.Sex_case_prison_boss_facing_jail/">Barry Cummings</a> was given a four-year custodial sentence after being convicted of three charges of sexually touching a girl under the age of 13 some years previously. </p><p>Cummings had worked at Low Newton prison, which formerly detained children, and <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9019726.Sex_case_prison_boss_facing_jail/">at prison establishments around the North-East.</a></p><p> At Newcastle-upon-Tyne Crown Court in May 2011 <a href="http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/ex-prison-officer-admits-raping-girl-over-100-times-1-3394281">retired prison officer Christopher Pearce</a> was given a 12-year custodial sentence for raping and indecently assaulting a young girl over a period of five to six years.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*CHristopher Pearce _0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*CHristopher Pearce _0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="193" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Leslie Winnard_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Leslie Winnard_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="178" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The child was six when Pearce first began indecently assaulting her, and 10 when he started raping her. The court heard Pearce had raped the young child up to 200 times. The offences were committed around 20 years previously. Acklington prison in Northumberland was one of the institutions Pearce had worked in. It had a dedicated wing for children until 1986 and specialised in the incarceration of sex offenders.</p><p><span>Durham Crown Court sent</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8630966.Officer_jailed_over_child_porn/">Leslie Winnard</a><span>&nbsp;</span><span>to prison for two years in November 2010 for possessing and distributing indecent images of children.</span></p><p>Winnard had been a prison officer for more than 30 years. <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8630966.Officer_jailed_over_child_porn/">Of the 1,567 indecent images stored on his computer</a>, 11 were level five (child sexual abuse involving an animal) and 257 were level four.</p> <p>Winnard may have had regular sight of children’s naked bodies as a routine part of his employment.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**BURNS.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**BURNS.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="102" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*PAYNE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*PAYNE.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="152" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*HART.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*HART.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="160" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The same could be said of retired prison officer <a href="http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/8361770.Ex_prison_guard___s_child_porn_shame/">Andrew Burns</a>, convicted of possessing indecent images of children, including seven of the most serious type. </p><p>At <a href="http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/8361770.Ex_prison_guard___s_child_porn_shame/">York Crown Court in August 2010</a> Burns was given a three-year community order and banned from having any unsupervised contact with a child aged under 16.</p> <p><a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">William John Payne,</a> a former Royal Marine and prison officer at Warren Hill young offender institution, was sent to custody for three years in May 2010 after sexually abusing a 17-year-old prisoner, both inside the prison and after release. The boy was being treated for depression. </p><p><a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">Prosecuting counsel told the court</a> that Payne was “a prison officer who had care of this young man and groomed him to a point where he was able to sexually abuse him at every opportunity”. Payne would have also been able, as part of his official role, to conduct strip-searches of his 17-year-old victim as well as other children. He had been a prison officer for 30 years.</p> <p>At Bournemouth Crown Court in February 2010, <a href="http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/5006226.Portland_prison_officer_jailed_for_child_porn_offences/">Francis Hart</a> was sent to prison for 14 months for possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Hart pleaded guilty to possessing 245 level-four indecent images (depicting penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults) and more than 1,000 level-one to level-three images. </p><p>Having served in the army for 15 years, Hart worked as a prison officer in Portland young offender institution at the time of his arrest in 2007. It is possible he would have undertaken strip-searches of children.</p> <p><a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/crime/4665858.Prison_officer___s_shame_over_child_porn_images/">David George Lamb</a> was a 53-year-old prison officer working at Deerbolt young offender institution, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, when he downloaded images of child pornography and distributed them to paedophiles around the world. He boasted to online acquaintances that he had had sex with two girls, aged seven and 10, and that he had sexually assaulted a four-year-old girl. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*DAVID GEORGE LAMB.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*DAVID GEORGE LAMB.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="189" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In December 2009, <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/4782308.Man_boasted_about_internet_child_porn/">Lamb was jailed for two years</a>. As well as admitting he distributed images to paedophiles, Lamb pleaded guilty to making indecent photographs and having 565 indecent images on his camera at home. Deerbolt young offender institution had a dedicated juvenile unit in the 1990s, and was formerly a borstal.</p> <p>In 2012, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/13/prisons-chief-failings-sexual-abuse">The Guardian newspaper</a> reported the case of Neville Husband, a prison officer who managed to get away with abusing boys in penal institutions for decades. This included a period at Deerbolt young offender institution, a posting he requested.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/***HUSBAND-sep.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/***HUSBAND-sep.jpg" alt="" title="" width="450" height="518" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p><span>The Guardian reports that the police charged Husband with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/apr/13/abuse-teenage-boys-detention-centre-crime">importing sado-masochistic images</a> involving teenage boys in 1969 (these charges were later dropped) and, when he worked at Medomsley detention centre in the 1980s, pornographic material and sex aids were found in his drawers and locker.</span></p><p>After 27 years as a prison officer, the prison service discharged Husband on medical grounds in 1990. Thirteen years later, he was convicted of sexual offences against nine child prisoners, four of whom came forward after media reporting of the initial trial.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*RONALD HOLLIER.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*RONALD HOLLIER.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="130" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/866189.print/">Ronald Hollier</a> was convicted of child rape and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment at Guildford Crown Court in August 2006. He had been a prison officer at Feltham young offender institution, which holds juveniles as well as young adults. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*JOHN DAVID HALL .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*JOHN DAVID HALL .jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="181" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Prison officer <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1518905/Life-for-sadistic-prison-officer-who-posed-as-Pc-to-rape-and-kidnap-girls.html">John David Hall</a> was given a life sentence in May 2006 for sexual offences against girls and young women in West Yorkshire. He was found to have indecently assaulted two girls aged 12 and 13 and tried to attack three others aged 13, 14 and 15. </p><p>Hall wore his uniform off duty, pretending to be a police officer before kidnapping his victims. He had been a prison officer for 15 years; one of his workplaces was Wetherby young offender institution, where his job would have probably included strip-searching children.</p> <p>In November 2002, the <a href="http://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/local/internet-child-porn-prison-officer-and-ambulanceman-cautioned-1-1169266">Lancaster Guardian reported</a> that “a long-serving prison officer in Lancaster” had been cautioned for internet child pornography after information was passed from US investigators. Lancaster Farms young offender institution held children from April 2000 until 2008/09.</p> <p>The prison service would have been aware of many of these cases (and presumably others not reported by the media) when, in 2007, it began eliminating routine strip-searching in women’s prisons but decided to leave the policy intact for children, when it rejected the European anti-torture committee’s recommendation the following year, and when the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;finally lobbied for change in 2009. </p><p>The policy document issued in May 2014 still empowers governors to introduce routine strip-searching across whole prisons for designated periods, and routine strip-searching remains mandatory for child prisoners assessed to be a serious security risk.</p> <p>Assessments of risk and decision-making about strip-searching are made entirely within the walls of the prison, with no independent, external oversight. The barbaric practice of cutting off children’s clothes under restraint is still allowed, even within the new, supposedly child-centred, behaviour management system:</p><blockquote><p> “The option of cutting off the clothing using safety scissors must be considered only where necessary and must be balanced against the risk of prolonged use of restraint and the consequent psychological impact on the young person and staff. (The cost of replacement clothing is irrelevant in such circumstances.) The young person must be provided with alternative clothing during the search.”</p></blockquote> <p>While recent policy changes should continue to reduce the frequency of strip-searching, the abusive practice of forcing an isolated and powerless child to undergo bodily and underwear inspection survives. </p><p>There is no formal recognition of the safeguarding risks of strip-searching in the main or addendum policies. For that we have to look to the National Crime Agency’s report on institutional child sexual abuse published in the aftermath of the Savile case. It includes a case study of the abuse of children in a locked setting (not a penal institution) and carries this warning: </p><blockquote><p>“Poor procedures can facilitate abuse ... creating supposedly legitimate reasons for offenders to conduct strip searches.” <a href="http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/49-ceop-institutions-thematic-assessment/file">[PDF here]</a> </p></blockquote><p>In that scenario, men had been authorised to strip-search girls, although the lessons are as plain as day for boys as well.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girlb.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girlb.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>In August 2012, the Ministry of Justice agreed to pay compensation to a former child prisoner who had been sexually assaulted on more than one occasion by a prison officer while detained at a young offender institution in Oxfordshire two years previously. </p><p><span>The&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;routinely publishes data on the injuries children suffer as a consequence of restraint. Yet the public is not told how many incarcerated children allege sexual abuse, whether these allegations are independently investigated and how many prison officers are disciplined and/or convicted as a consequence. Even parliamentarians have been snubbed in their attempts to obtain such information.</span></p><p>An FOI request I made, which was initially refused, elicited some indicative data for the period April 2009 to the end of December 2013. Before handing over the data, the National Offender Management Service told me: <span>“</span><span>We have removed any cases that have been withdrawn,&nbsp;</span>‘<span>auto closed</span>’<span>&nbsp;as no outcome received, or employee resigned.</span><span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>After all these caveats, I was informed 62 prison officers working in juvenile prisons had been disciplined for child abuse. Six prison officers were listed as having&nbsp;“an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner/ex-prisoner”. This is prison service speak for sexual abuse. This data, of course, does not tell us how many children these 62 officers abused.</span></p> <p>A <a href="http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/8539/">safeguarding report</a> jointly published by inspection bodies in 2008 had this to say:</p> <blockquote><p>“While all inspected youth [sic] offender institutions were checking new staff, the HM Prison Service (HMPS) did not require the checking of existing staff and only one establishment was carrying out retrospective checks. Only six out of the 14 establishments had 90% or more of their staff CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] cleared for working with young people. Three establishments only had around half of their staff CRB cleared. This is of particular concern in closed institutions where staff who may not have been vetted are permitted to carry out procedures such as strip-searching...”</p></blockquote> <p><br /> Let’s reflect on that. Closed institution. Vulnerable child. Staff who haven’t been vetted. Strip-search.</p> <p>The&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;and the Office of Children’s Commissioner for England commissioned research into children’s experiences in prison. Their report was published in 2011 as Young People’s Views on Safeguarding in the Secure Estate. [<a href="http://yjbpublications.justice.gov.uk/en-gb/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=493&amp;eP=">PDF here</a>]</p><p> Asked about the experience of being strip-searched, one imprisoned girl said: “They look at you like you’re a dog, making you strip is bang out of order, it proper makes me angry, it really does.”</p> <p>A boy expressed similar feelings: “I was angry, I didn’t want to strip in front of two men.”</p><p> Another girl said: “I think it’s quite like rape.”</p><p><span>&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Children behind bars test_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Children behind bars test_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="366" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>This is the third and final extract from&nbsp;<span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a></span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end</a>.&nbsp;Detailed references can be found in the book. </span></p><p><span>See also part one:&nbsp;</span><span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a>. Part two: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a>.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a>&nbsp;(<span>£12.99&nbsp;</span><span>plus £2.75 postage and packing). Subscribers to the Policy Press newsletter receive a 35 per cent discount. You can sign up&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/subscribe.asp">here</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>Original illustration is by&nbsp;<a href="http://reecewykes.com/">Reece Wykes</a>,&nbsp;working in charcoal, digitally enhanced. Wykes is&nbsp;a London-based illustrator and animator freshly graduated from Kingston University.&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ReeceWykes">@ReeceWykes</a></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-sup">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 23 Jun 2015 23:00:05 +0000 Carolyne Willow 92908 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Joseph Scholes and Adam Rickwood died within weeks of being placed in penal institutions. Carolyne Willow met the boys’ mothers, and tells their stories in her shocking book,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538"><em>Children Behind Bars</em>.</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Joseph-Scholes-007.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Joseph-Scholes-007.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Joseph Scholes</span></span></span></p><h2>Joseph’s story</h2> <p>Joseph Scholes loved Lego. Every Christmas he would ask for the biggest set, the castle or the pirate galleon, and spend the day building. Joseph was one of four children, he belonged to a close family: they ate meals together around the kitchen table, had regular holidays and enjoyed each others’ company. </p> <p>He was born in Sale, Greater Manchester, on 20 February 1986. His mother told me Joseph was quite a large baby and “very, very beautiful”. </p> <p>I met Yvonne Bailey at her home in Wales.&nbsp;<span>She told me that Joseph grew into an extremely clever, enquiring child, “interested in everything”. He loved nature and exploring National Trust buildings and museums, he enjoyed pulling things apart and rebuilding them. He was funny. He’d wear his mother’s hat and scarf and do “funny turns” when people came to the house. He loved the arts and music. At school, he was “sunny and popular”.</span></p> <p>Joseph loved playing board games with his family — Monopoly and Frustration for instance. He hated losing. His gran, who “totally adored him”, joked that she’d get repetitive strain because they’d have to keep playing until Joseph won. </p> <p>Yvonne told me that Joseph’s real difficulties started around 1995, when she and his father split up. “Before that, I would’ve viewed Joseph just as a usual boy. . .&nbsp; Perhaps, looking back, there were little things, but a usual boy. Hard work, very physically hard work, but that was the beginning of the end for Joseph. That was the beginning of the end, definitely.”</p> <p>There was a hostile custody dispute, moving homes and schools. Then, when Joseph was 12, he disclosed sexual abuse by someone outside the immediate family, and social services got involved.</p> <p>People said Joseph was young for his age: at 14 and 15 he still enjoyed climbing trees, building dens and was afraid of the dark.</p> <p>His self-harming began in his teenage years – Joseph would do things like push sharp objects into his toes. </p> <p>Joseph became aggressive towards his mother, stopped eating family meals and had irrational fears; he became scared of insects. He went from being obsessed about cleanliness to refusing to wash. </p> <p>When he was 15, Joseph jumped from a first floor window in a suspected suicide attempt. </p> <p>He was violent towards ambulance staff, so police charged him with affray. A psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depressive conduct disorder said his response to the ambulance crew was self-preservation. She warned that Joseph’s self-harming could escalate should he end up in custody.</p><p>A few weeks before Christmas 2001 Joseph went missing for about a week. He was found with another child in a deserted caravan on a car park. He was taken into police protection and placed in a children’s home.&nbsp;</p><p>Five days after that he had peripheral involvement, with two boys from the home, in street robberies of mobile telephones.&nbsp;</p><p>Joseph was psychiatrically assessed a second time and reported to be in a “fragile emotional state”.</p><p>The day after appearing in court over the phone robberies, he slashed his face more than 30 times. His bedroom in the children’s home had to be repainted because the walls were splattered with blood.</p> <p>On 15 March 2002, Joseph appeared in court for sentencing. Besides the psychiatric assessments, a social worker wrote a letter to the court expressing concern about Joseph’s safety given his propensity to self-harm when distressed. The judge ordered custody, and said the authorities must be informed about Joseph’s history of self-harm.</p> <p>Where might the Youth Justice Board place a child as vulnerable as Joseph?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The healthcare centre at Stoke Heath young offender institution in Shropshire had an appalling reputation. Prisons inspectors had found conditions dire, with&nbsp;“horrendous” numbers of injuries caused through inmate violence. In one eight-month period there were 717 injuries. [<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110204170815/http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/stokeh001-rps.pdf">PDF here</a>]</p> <p>Children were routinely kept in their cells for all but one and a half hours a day. Over a ten-day period, some got less than half an hour’s fresh air. One child hadn’t been outside at all. Children ate all of their meals in their cells. </p> <p>Inspectors said the healthcare centre “failed to a spectacular degree to meet the standards established by the Prisons Board. Thus, a deprived environment for young, sick people was made worse by the complete absence of an area where patients could take outdoor exercise. It is hard to understand how the Prison Service came to build a Health Care Centre that failed to provide facilities, required by Prison Rules, for outdoor exercise.”</p> <p>Despite Joseph’s known vulnerabilities, and despite these shocking reports on Stoke Heath’s deficiencies, that’s where the Youth Justice Board placed him. </p> <p>Yvonne Bailey didn’t know what the system knew about Stoke Heath. After staff at the children’s home told her that Joseph was in the healthcare centre, she spoke with a nurse on the telephone. Yvonne told me about that call: </p> <p>“I was told he was put in a safe cell, so it’s again, it’s this use of language ... They should’ve said, ‘Yvonne, he’s in a cell, he’s stripped naked, he’s got a horse blanket-like garment on, fastened with Velcro. It’s filthy and squalid, I mean, the window’s about two or three inches deep in dirt between the pane and the bars and the outer pane. He’s on a concrete plinth with a thin plastic mat’. </p><p><span>“</span>That would’ve been the truth. But instead I was told he would come to no harm, he’s in a safe cell, he’s in safe clothing.”</p><p>I asked Yvonne whether prison health staff had asked for information about Joseph, for example, whether he was afraid of the dark. </p><p>She said:&nbsp;<span>“No. I </span><em>gave</em><span> information. When I rang I tried to explain he was under two hospitals, he’s tried to kill himself, he’s been sexually abused, he’s very vulnerable, we didn’t think he’d be sentenced.</span><span>”</span></p><p><span>Yvonne went on:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>You’ve got to remember that if I was having a conversation now, I’m clear-headed, I would say </span><span>this, this, this,</span><span> I would ask </span><span>that, that, that</span><span>&nbsp; . .&nbsp; At that time, you see, everything, every answer they give you as a person with complete naivety, I just believed everything. So I came off the phone and told the girls, ‘He’s in a safe cell, he’s in safe clothing.”’</span></p> <p>Nine days after he was admitted to prison, and before Yvonne had made her first visit (it took nearly a week for a visiting order to arrive), Joseph hanged himself from the bars of his cell. </p> <p>He left a letter for his parents: “I love you mum and dad,” he wrote. “I’m sorry, I just can’t cope. Don’t be sad. It is no one’s fault. I just can’t go on. None of it was any of your fault, sorry. Love you and family, Joe. I tried telling them and they just don’t listen.”</p><p><a href="http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/social-worker-feared-tragic-teenage-2930850">At the inquest</a>, the youth offending team social worker said he’d had “serious concerns” about Joseph and rang the prison to warn about self-harm. Child prisoners have a <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673605673254/abstract">suicide rate 18 times higher</a> than children sleeping in their own beds, so prisons are probably used to telephone calls like these.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="491" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During his first four days in the healthcare centre, Joseph was placed in a garment described some years later by the European Court of Human Rights as a <a href="http://caselaw.echr.globe24h.com/0/0/united-kingdom/2010/01/19/bailey-v-the-united-kingdom-97286-39953-07.shtml">“simple linen tunic, held together by adhesive strips under which he was naked”</a>. “Horse blanket” and “dehumanising” were two of the descriptions given at the inquest. [<a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Fatally%20Flawed.pdf">PDF here</a>]</p> <p>The author of the child protection report produced after Joseph’s death said that if the healthcare centre had been in a children’s home he would have closed it down. [<a href="http://inquest.org.uk/pdf/2004/joseph_scholes_verdict.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <p>The institution’s medical officer told the inquest Joseph had been “deeply traumatised” by his treatment. Two years earlier, the officer had written to the prisons minister, Paul Boateng, the chief inspector of prisons, David Ramsbotham, and the head of the prison service, Martin Narey, alerting them to unacceptable healthcare standards.&nbsp;<span>[</span><a href="http://inquest.org.uk/pdf/2004/joseph_scholes_verdict.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p> <p>Boateng and Narey had ultimate responsibility for the care of imprisoned children.</p> <p>The coroner presiding over Joseph’s inquest took the highly unusual step of writing to the then home secretary, David Blunkett, asking that a public inquiry be established to consider the appropriateness of the custodial sentence Joseph received, the procedures that were meant to safeguard him once in custody, and the adequacy of secure accommodation to meet the needs of children. </p> <p>The government refused to follow the coroner’s recommendation.</p> <p>Joseph’s mother challenged this as far as the European Court of Human Rights, without success. </p> <p>In December 2012, Yvonne Bailey wrote to the Queen, asking for her support in obtaining a public inquiry. Her letter was passed to the then justice secretary, Chris Grayling. Yvonne is still waiting for his reply.</p> <p>Like Joseph said: “I tried telling them and they just don’t listen.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Adam’s story</h2> <p>Adam was a lively boy who loved being in the outdoors. He enjoyed camping and rabbiting. On Saturdays he would wash cars and help out at a local garage. He had ambitions to become a police officer, then he planned to set up a garage business; friends said they could help get him started.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" alt="" title="" width="440" height="248" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam RIckwood</span></span></span></p> <p>I met Adam’s mother, Carol Pounder, at her home in Burnley, Lancashire. She told me that Adam was small for his age, a ‘mummy’s boy’ whose behaviour changed when he was nine. Five family members died within a four-year period and these deaths “played on Adam’s head”, Carol said. He was constantly crying and upset, he would have angry outbursts.</p> <p>“He wanted to know why people died,” Carol said. “I tried to explain to him why people died, but he just couldn’t understand it.”</p> <p>Carol sought help from social services and from her family doctor who referred Adam to a psychiatric unit. She was “in and out of school” because of difficulties there. </p> <p>Eventually, in desperation, when Adam was 12, Carol left him at the social services office to force them to arrange some respite. </p> <p>The local education authority and social services tussled over who should fund Adam’s residential school placement. He enjoyed his stay at a children’s home in Blackpool, 40 miles away from home, but he became homesick and, after just six days, Carol said, he “ran away and came home to me”.</p> <p>When he was 14, Adam was arrested twice, once for having a penknife and another time for possessing cannabis. During a difficult two-year period he was admitted to hospital seven times following overdoses of alcohol and drugs.</p> <p>Then he was charged with wounding a man and was subject to a court-ordered secure remand. </p> <p>A place in a locked establishment was not immediately available so Adam spent a short period in a local (privately-run) children’s home where he settled well. </p> <p>Then staff told Adam he was going to be moved to Hassockfield — a secure training centre run by the private company Serco near Consett in County Durham. The distance from Adam<span>’</span><span>s home was around 150 miles.</span></p> <p><span>Hassockfield</span>&nbsp;was built on the site that once housed Medomsley detention centre, where more than 1,100 former child inmates now allege they were sexually and physically abused by prison guards.</p> <p>Adam panicked and ran home. He was arrested, held in the cells at Burnley police station and escorted by police officers to Hassockfield. They arrived at the prison after midnight on 10 July 2004. Adam was assessed as ‘high risk’ and monitored every five minutes.</p> <p>Two days later one of the principal witnesses to the alleged wounding retracted his police statement. That should have given Adam’s lawyer the grounds she needed to appeal for bail. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Moreover, Adam told police and a member of staff at Hassockfield that he had stabbed the man because he sexually abused him (“touched him up”). [<a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>In a therapeutic setting, such information would be seen as significant, potentially offering further clues to Adam’s self-destructive behaviour. It would reinforce the necessity of providing a safe, caring environment. But Hassockfield was not a therapeutic environment and these two separate disclosures were not recorded in Adam’s risk profile.&nbsp;</p><p>Five days after Adam was taken to Hassockfield, Carol was allowed to speak with him on the telephone. Three days after that she attended a meeting there. Carol told me:</p><blockquote><p>“Adam was sat there, he were crying his eyes out. He had snot dripping off his face, he were shaking. He didn’t even hardly speak throughout the meeting. His hand was all swollen and bandaged up so I asked what he’d done. Adam wouldn’t even tell me. They’d said he’d punched a wall.”</p></blockquote><p>After the meeting Adam and Carol had some private time. He told her he “would do himself in” if he was not moved. Carol passed that on to a female staff member: &nbsp;“Her words to me were, ‘We’ve never had a death here yet, and we’re not about to have one.’”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/102893_e787d573_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/102893_e787d573_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hassockfield Secure Training Centre (Colin Edgar, Creative Commons, some rights reserved)</span></span></span></p><p>Close monitoring continued. A transfer request was made. Carol told me this did not highlight Adam’s vulnerabilities, his self-harming, poor mental health state or the prohibitive distance from home.</p> <p>In his last letter home, Adam wrote: “I need to be at home with you. I need to be at home in my own bed or my head will crack up. I will probably try to kill myself and I will probably succeed this time. I can’t stay in here.” </p> <p>He wrote another letter addressed&nbsp;“Dear Judge”. That letter, pleading for bail, is paraphrased here by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman:</p> <p>“... he said he had learned his lesson and intended to stay out of trouble in the future. He said that, if he was granted bail, he knew he had ‘to stick to it and I will for definite’ because a friend had offered him a job. He said he had stopped smoking and would not smoke cannabis again. He said he wanted to change his life and start again. He asked the Judge to take into account how he was feeling about things and said he was ‘really upset and distressed’. He asked for the chance to prove that what he was saying was true.” &nbsp;<span>[</span><a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p> <p>On 7 August 2004,<strong> </strong>Adam was visited by family members. Officers observed someone passing Adam cigarettes and matches. Instead of intervening, they elected to ‘discover’ the items in a search <em>after</em> Adam’s family had left the prison. He was placed on the lowest level of the punishment and rewards scheme and his television was removed from his cell. </p> <p>That evening Adam learned that, because of the contraband, he was not allowed to earn any points for the day. He got angry, threw a plastic cup at a table which bounced and hit an officer on the arm before landing on the floor. </p> <p>Adam immediately apologised and went to his cell. Nevertheless, he was locked in for around 20 minutes as punishment.</p> <p>So, in about seven hours this 14-year-old child had accrued three separate punishments: relegation to the institution’s lowest privilege level, which included the removal of his television; not being able to accrue any points, and ‘time out’. All because he’d accepted seven matches and two cigarettes from a family visitor.</p> <p>The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman observed: “There can be little doubt of the effect this affair had on the boy – evidenced by the cup-throwing incident. He felt it was unfair (given that it was his family who brought in the cigarettes) and he would have felt the loss of points and privileges (and especially the loss of his television and CD at the weekend) keenly.<span>”</span></p><p><span>The Ombudsman said Adam&nbsp;</span>“<span>had quickly achieved Championship status and would have been proud of that (he said on one occasion on receiving ten points for the day that he was ‘King of the world’)”.&nbsp;</span><span>[</span><a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*mother.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*mother.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Carol Pounder</span></span></span></p> <p>The following day, a Sunday, Adam and another child were in the association area of their unit. A child with special educational needs was on ‘time out’ and passed a note to Adam to give to another child. A female officer instructed Adam to hand over the note, which he did. She did not approve of what was written in the note and ordered Adam into his cell. </p> <p>Adam asked what he had done wrong a couple of times. The officer tried to drag him into his cell. Adam pulled away and went to sit down at one of the unit’s fixed table and benches. Then, the officer activated the ‘first response’ restraint procedure.</p> <p>Four officers came running into the unit. One of them later conceded that they found Adam quite calm and trying to defuse the situation. Still, the officers grabbed hold of Adam and carried him, face down, into his cell. </p> <p>Adam struggled. An officer swiped his nose. (The official euphemism for that is&nbsp;<span>‘</span><span>nose distraction</span><span>’</span><span>).</span></p> <p>Hours later, Adam was found hanging in his cell. He was 14 years old.</p> <p>Every day until three days before his death Adam had rung his solicitor about his bail application. He had packed a bag in preparation for a transfer back to the children’s home, which he had given to officers to safely store in the office. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The night he died Adam had asked for his bag back. Some days after his death a letter was found in the side pocket. The letter to his family began “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!”. Adam promised to look after his deceased grandparents, and asked to be buried with his grandfather.</p> <p>At Adam’s inquest, held in Chester-le-Street in<strong> </strong>Durham in 2007, Carol Pounder watched CCTV footage of her son’s final restraint. </p> <p>“Basically, they beat him up,” she told me, “and they took him to his cell and left him. They beat Adam up in the association area. They carried him like a dead animal, face down. And what they said was the reason why they carried him face down was because his nose was bleeding so badly they didn’t want him to choke to death on his blood. That’s exactly what they said.”</p> <p>She described more of the footage: “They throw Adam in his cell like a dog, and then they go and jump on him again....The way they were carrying my son, I actually thought he was dead. And he was in his socks. He didn’t even have shoes on his feet.<span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Carol said:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>And then they threw Adam in the cell, and then they all jumped on him again ... I think the lightest one was 13-and-a-half stone, and you see him pushing on to the top of Adam, and you could tell they get a kick out of it. I mean, if we’d done that to a kid, well.... Then they all came running out that room, out of the cell.... When they came running out you can actually see the smirks on their faces.”</span></p> <p>Besides the letter for his family, Adam left a statement for his solicitor: </p> <p>“When the other staff came they all jumped on me and started to put my arms up my back and hitting me in the nose,” he wrote. “I then tried to bite one of the staff because they were really hurting my nose. My nose started bleeding and swelled up and it didn’t stop bleeding for about one hour and afterwards it was really sore.<span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Adam</span>’<span>s note continues:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>When I calmed down I asked them why they hit me in the nose and jumped on me. They said it was because I wouldn’t go in my room so I said what gives them the right to hit a 14-year-old child in the nose and they said it was restraint.”&nbsp;</span><span>[</span><a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*restraint_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*restraint_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>What did give them the right to hit a 14-year-old child in the nose?</p><p>Carol Pounder had to go to the High Court to get an honest answer to her son’s question.&nbsp;</p><p>“<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/jan/22/youngpeople-deathsincustody">There was no right to hurt such a child in these circumstances</a>,” said Mr Justice Blake.</p><p>Wider admissions of abusive treatment came only with the second inquest, which concluded in January 2011.&nbsp;</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/youth-justice-agencies-condemned-for-unlawful-treatment-of-vulnerable-boy-in-custody/">All parties to the inquest</a>, including the commercial contractor Serco and the Youth Justice Board, agreed that the removal of Adam to his cell had been unlawful, the use of restraint to move Adam to his cell was unlawful, the use of the ‘nose distraction’ on Adam was unlawful, and that restraint “<a href="http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/youth-justice-agencies-condemned-for-unlawful-treatment-of-vulnerable-boy-in-custody/">was regularly used</a>” unlawfully at Hassockfield before and at the time of Adam’s death.</span></span></p><p><span>The inquest jury found that Hassockfield was running an unlawful regime and that the Youth Justice Board’s failure to prevent Serco’s regular and unlawful use of restraint at Hassockfield constituted “serious system failure”.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/youth-justice-agencies-condemned-for-unlawful-treatment-of-vulnerable-boy-in-custody/">The jury agreed that several factors</a> had contributed to Adam taking his own life: being 150 miles from home, the news that a bail application was not being pursued, the unlawful use of restraint, the unlawful use of the nose distraction, and his intrinsic vulnerability.</p> <p>Carol Pounder’s legal team wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking him to institute proceedings against the four individuals who had unlawfully restrained Adam, and the director of the Serco prison, Trevor Wilson-Smith. At the end of April 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service notified Carol’s lawyers that no prosecutions would be brought as, principally, a court would be likely to find that the suspects had a genuine and reasonable belief that the methods in which they had been trained to restrain children were lawful. </p> <p>I asked Carol’s barrister, Richard Hermer QC, what impact the case had on him personally. He said:</p> <p>“Obviously, on a human level, Adam’s story was just deeply tragic. This small child, who was clearly bright, able and insightful, met a tragic death alone in a cell.”</p><p> Hermer went on: “As a lawyer, the thing that stays with me about that case is what we discovered — namely, a detention system in which for years those responsible for the care and welfare of children were breaking the law and assaulting the children with impunity.” </p> <p>Hermer was troubled by the Youth Justice Board’s response to the ruling that the system was unlawful. At the first inquest the&nbsp;YJB had contended that this evidence should be withheld from the jury. Thereafter the Youth Justice Board and the government tried to change the law so that the unlawful restraints would become lawful. </p> <p>He said they did this “without, it seemed, any consideration as to the impact it would have on children, let alone any attempt to seek to learn lessons from what had just been discovered about unlawful practices in institutions for which they were responsible. As a lawyer, I found that a remarkably shoddy response from government”.</p> <p>As for the response from Serco, the private company running Hassockfield, Hermer said that was “even worse”. Why? Because Serco “actually sought to argue that the restraints were lawful”.</p> <p>Hermer said: “These were arguments that were rightly treated with some contempt by the High Court and Court of Appeal. How much better it would have been if the response of both government and Serco had been <em>not</em> to seek to justify the unjustifiable but to say, ‘Look, we have really messed up. What lessons can we learn? How can we make sure that this isn’t done again?’” </p> <p>“What does it tell us about the way that we treat children?”</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span>This is the second edited extract from&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a></span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end</a>.&nbsp;Detailed references can be found in the book. See also part one:&nbsp;</span><span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a>. Our series concludes tomorrow: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain’s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a>.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a>&nbsp;(<span>£12.99&nbsp;</span><span>plus £2.75 postage and packing). Subscribers to the Policy Press newsletter receive a 35 per cent discount. You can sign up&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/subscribe.asp">here</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>Original illustration is by&nbsp;<a href="http://reecewykes.com/">Reece Wykes</a>,&nbsp;working in charcoal, digitally enhanced. Wykes is&nbsp;a London-based illustrator and animator freshly graduated from Kingston University. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ReeceWykes">@ReeceWykes</a></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/criminalised-vulnerable-and-likely-to-re-offend-will-this-government-hel">Criminalised, vulnerable, and likely to re-offend: Will this government help young offenders in England and Wales?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/bulger-case-legacy-institutional-vengeance-against-children-who-kill">The Bulger case legacy: Institutional vengeance against children who kill?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-sup">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/we-in-uk-punish-girls-for-being-vulnerable">We in the UK punish girls for being vulnerable</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/new-report-confirms-problems-of-short-custodial-sentences-for-children">New report confirms problems of short custodial sentences for children</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 22 Jun 2015 23:05:00 +0000 Carolyne Willow 92868 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Prison, a treacherous place for a child https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Thirty-three children have died in English child prisons since 1990.&nbsp;A powerful new book exposes how Britain’s most vulnerable children are routinely damaged by the state.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*for willow tweeting.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*for willow tweeting.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>When Alex Kelly was six years old, medical examinations revealed that he had been repeatedly raped over many years. He was subsequently taken into the care of Tower Hamlets council. </p><p>In January 2012, when Alex was 15, he hanged himself at Cookham Wood young offender institution in Kent. He’d been there for four months. For most of this period, Alex had no allocated social worker, and council workers argued with one another over their responsibilities to him.</p> <p>Late last year, after an inquest jury concluded that “systemic failure” by the local authority and inadequate safeguarding within the prison had contributed to Alex’s death, the solicitor Mark Scott, speaking for Alex’s father, said: “Alex was extremely vulnerable and a child in need of care but instead was treated as a child in need of custody.” (<a href="https://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/uploads/other/18_12_2014_09_21_30_18.12.14.pdf">PDF&nbsp;here</a>)</p> <p>Children who have suffered the most horrendous hardships in their early lives&nbsp;<span>find little mercy in the state-organised punishment of penal incarceration.&nbsp;</span><span>From everything that could be known about a child, we select a fraction of his or her behaviour – that which has breached the law – and construe their ‘master status’ as young offender. </span></p><p><span>Many other descriptors could be used (if label we must) to more accurately reflect children’s lives and circumstances, including victims of poverty, maltreatment, bereavement, educational exclusion and institutional racism. There is no question that the vast majority of child prisoners will have suffered serious human rights violations.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3559916_48821_0-630.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3559916_48821_0-630.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alex Kelly</span></span></span></p> <p>Alex was one of 33 children to have died in English child prisons since 1990. That’s when the UK signed an international children’s rights agreement to use detention only as a measure of last resort.</p> <p>There has been a massive reduction in the number of detained children over the past five years but, still, the UK remains one of the chief child incarcerators in Europe. </p><p>In 1991, there were 572 children held in prison service institutions; in March 2015, there were 706. A further 186 were detained in three secure training centres run by the international security company G4S. (Children were moved out of Hassockfield secure training centre, run by Serco, at the end of last year).</p><p>Just 11 per cent of children in custody (112) were kept in secure children’s homes, establishments governed by the Children Act 1989 and run by local authorities.</p> <p>Only two of 47 Council of Europe member states, Russia and Turkey, detained more children than the UK in September 2013, the latest date for which Council of Europe figures are available. </p> <h3>They are children</h3> <p>A few years ago I set out to write a book about two boys, Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood, who died following ‘restraint’ in secure training centres in 2004. I wanted to find out what they were like as people, what made them laugh, what they enjoyed doing, what plans they had for their lives. I hoped to be able to write about them in such a way as to encourage policymakers to make connections with the children in their own lives they love and cherish, and to thereby stimulate radical action. </p> <p>Then I read <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/nov/23/cruel-britannia-ian-cobain-review">Cruel Britannia</a>, Ian Cobain’s book on the British state’s use of torture, and I decided to widen the scope of my work to examine the many harms caused by child incarceration. Having been a children’s rights campaigner for many years, I was already well aware of many of the scandals. But I knew there was much more to investigate and expose. </p><p>My early career as a child protection social worker had equipped me to ask uncomfortable questions, to interrogate information and ‘facts’ presented by adults in positions of power and to always stay firmly focused on the child’s feelings and perspective. Several hundred FOIs, analysis of dozens of parliamentary questions, 24 interviews and months of research and writing, and here we are.</p><p>My book,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>, catalogues the mistreatment of vulnerable children held behind perimeter fences and banged up in cells for 14 or more hours a day, sometimes over a hundred miles from home.</p><p>These are children banished to young offender institutions known to be violent and unsafe, and secure training centres found by the High Court to have been sites of “widespread unlawful use of restraint”. </p><p>Child prisoners are exposed to practices that would invite state intervention were they to happen in the community. A parent who locked a child in a tiny room for more than 20 hours a day would, at the very least, be sent on a compulsory course to correct his or her abusive behaviour. Yet such mistreatment is routinely perpetrated by a punitive state that abandons child protection norms when it comes to young offenders.</p><p>What else might explain the lack of public outcry following an inspection report on a Staffordshire prison in March 2014? This told us children were being locked in cells that were “the worst [inspectors] had seen for some time. Some cells were filthy, gloomy and covered in graffiti, and contained offensive material, heavily scaled toilets, damaged furniture and smashed observation panels”. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/Werrington-2013.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>Many of the cells holding children on their first night in the prison were “in an uninhabitable state”.</p><p><span>Three quarters of child inmates were held in pairs in cells designed for single occupancy. The inspectors noted: “Cells were cramped with not enough furniture and inadequate toilet screening.”</span>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*finished 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*finished 1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span>Another inspection report that same month tells of children at Wetherby young offender institution in West Yorkshire locked in cells so small they had to sleep “in close proximity to the toilet”. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/Wetherby-2013.pdf">PDF</a>]</span></p> <p>In a third report —&nbsp;released in August 2014 —&nbsp;inspectors who visited Hindley&nbsp;<span>young offender institution,</span><span>&nbsp;near Wigan, expressed concern about the prison’s punishment and rewards scheme. At weekends, children on its lowest level spent at most 135 minutes out of their cells. Boys sometimes had less than 15 minutes’ daily exercise in the open air. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/08/Hindley-Web-2014.pdf">PDF</a>]</span></p> <p>Here’s how Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, sums up the effects of imprisonment on children:</p> <blockquote><p>“It’s intellectually stultifying, it’s emotionally inhibiting, it’s sexually inhibiting, it’s frightening, your educational opportunities are restricted. In every aspect it’s negative.”</p></blockquote><p>Six years ago, after investigating the treatment of children and adults with mental health problems and learning disabilities by the police, courts and prisons, <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130107105354/http:/www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_098694">Labour peer Lord Bradley reported</a>: </p><blockquote><p>“The prison environment, with its rules and regimes governing daily life, can be seriously detrimental to mental health.”</p></blockquote><p>The Children’s Commissioner for England documented the case of a primary school girl who had suffered domestic violence and family breakdown. As a newly imprisoned teenager, she refused to leave her cell for the first six weeks.</p><p>Imagine a child in the community spending the whole of the school summer holidays locked in an austerely furnished room with a toilet, and food trays delivered to the door.</p><p>The experience of being sent to prison is deeply traumatic, as this boy told the Howard League for Penal Reform: </p><blockquote><p>“My first night in custody was the worst night of my life. I’d never been lonely before. I felt so lonely.”&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>Joseph Scholes left his parents a note before he hanged himself in prison a month after his 16th birthday: “I’m sorry, I just can’t cope.”&nbsp;</p><h3>See no evil. . .</h3><p>How can we explain the lack of outrage shown by the general public, the media and among politicians, in response to 33 children dying in institutions run by the state? Do people know?</p><p>Information drips from different sources. It is difficult to get the full picture.&nbsp;</p><p>There is research and testimony published by campaign groups, human rights bodies and academics. Some of the most shocking evidence is in court reports, inquest transcripts, coroners’ notes and other official documents that take some tracking down.&nbsp;</p><p>Then there is the use of euphemism and what psychologists might call avoidance techniques.&nbsp;<span>Officials rarely use the siren call of child abuse when it comes to prisons.&nbsp;</span></p><p>“Inappropriate” was the adjective chosen by the prisons inspectorate to describe the routine handcuffing and strip-searching of vulnerable children brought to a specialist unit because they could not cope in an ordinary prison.</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*hunger.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*hunger.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="447" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>“Significant weakness” was how Ofsted noted the absence of nurses, in contravention of the rules, during the use of restraint in a secure training centre. Inspectors gave the commercial contractor G4S three months to rectify the breach. In February 2015, inspectors who had visited another G4S-run secure training centre communicated their “concern” that a child with a fracture was denied medical treatment for 15 hours.</span></p> <p>Former head of the prison service, Martin Narey, told parliamentarians of “the possibility that the public greatly underestimates the full extent of the discomfort, pain and deprivation of liberty for anyone of any age”. He said: “For a child it is particularly traumatic.” </p> <h2>Significant harm </h2> <p>Knowingly causing children discomfort, pain and trauma fits the definition of significant harm in the Children Act 1989 – the part of the law sending social workers to front doors.</p> <p><span><em>Harm</em></span> in the 1989 Act means ill treatment or the impairment of a child’s health or development, including, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of others. </p> <p><span><em>Development</em></span> encompasses a child’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. <span><em>Health</em></span> means physical or mental health. <span><em>Ill</em> <em>treatment</em></span> includes sexual abuse and other kinds of mistreatment that are not physical.<br /> <br /> For many years Chris Callender has worked with children in prison, as a solicitor in law firms in Leeds and London and as the legal director of the <a href="http://www.howardleague.org">Howard League for Penal Reform</a>. I asked him if any of his cases involved a child suffering significant harm in prison. He said: &nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>“Most of the cases are likely to be bullying or intimidation or risk from either other prisoners or officers within the context and confines of the imprisonment. I can’t think of many cases where those young people were free from those issues.</p><br />“<span>So I just think that incarceration in YOIs [young offender institutions], particularly YOIs, the risk of harm – whether through fights, through turf wars, through bullying, threats from officers to children, or children to children – is endemic.”</span></blockquote><p>According to government child protection rules, <em>physical abuse</em> encompasses hitting, throwing and “otherwise causing physical harm to a child”. </p><p><em>Emotional abuse</em> can include “conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued insofar as they meet the needs of another person”. It may include silencing the child, belittling them and having inappropriate expectations. Serious bullying, and making children feel frightened and in danger a lot of the time, is a form of emotional abuse.&nbsp;</p><p><span><em>Sexual abuse</em></span>&nbsp;can include “forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities”.&nbsp;<span><em>Neglect</em></span>&nbsp;is the persistent failure to meet the child’s most basic needs.</p><h3>You’d be terrified</h3><p>In July 2013, the chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23248433">told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme</a>&nbsp;that parents would be ‘terrified’ were their child to be incarcerated in Feltham young offender institution in London. </p><p>Had this been a statement from the head of the Care Quality Commission about an older people’s home, or a hospital for people with learning disabilities, the establishment in question would have been closed down. Prison service managers seem to have superhuman resilience to exposures that would topple other organisations.</p><p>Feltham young offender institution was the prison in which&nbsp;Zahid Mubarek, a British Asian teenager, was placed in a cell with profoundly disturbed Robert Stewart of the same age. On 21 March 2000, Stewart battered Mubarek into a coma with a table leg. Such was the minimal staffing in the institution, and the physical layout, that it was Stewart himself who first drew attention to the ferocious attack by ringing his cell buzzer.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HMCIP Nick Hardwick, HMP Pentonville.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HMCIP Nick Hardwick, HMP Pentonville.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nick Hardwick: 'If you were a parent with a child in Feltham you would be right to be terrified' </span></span></span></p><p>Zahid died in hospital. The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/zahid-mubarek-inquiry">public inquiry into his death</a>&nbsp;heard that prison officers had devised a game called ‘Coliseum’, whereby incompatible inmates would be deliberately detained in shared cells to incite violence and staff made bets on the outcome. </p><p>The inquiry was unable to substantiate those claims. However, it discovered that three white prison officers had handcuffed an ethnic minority prisoner to the bars of his cell, removed his trousers and smeared his bottom with black shoe polish. The officers were given official warnings.</p><p>Two white trainee prison officers who urinated on a black trainee during a training course were dismissed.</p><p>The then head of the prison service Martin Narey admitted: “It goes beyond institutional racism to blatant malicious pockets of racism.<span>”</span></p><h3>Sexual abuse of child prisoners</h3><p>There were 181 boys in Feltham at the time of the&nbsp;‘terrified parents<span>’</span><span>&nbsp;inspection. Almost a third of children reported victimisation by a member of staff. And 300 acts of violence had been perpetrated by children on each other in the six months preceding the inspection. The inspectors found a segregation unit, which also held young adults, with “ingrained dirt on floors and walls”. [</span><a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/prisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/03/feltham-a-annual-report.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p>The prisons inspectorate’s survey of children held in 11 prisons the previous year found 32 per cent of boys and 22 per cent of girls had felt unsafe. More than one in 10 boys and almost a quarter of girls reported being subject to insulting remarks by prison staff. Physical abuse by staff was reported by 4 per cent of the boys. [<a href="http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/young-offenders/tsop/144293children-and-young-people-custody-2011-12.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>At least nine boys reported sexual abuse by staff and the same number said other boys had sexually abused them. In one prison unit staff sexual abuse was alleged by 6 per cent of the boys. One in every 20 boys reported racial or ethnic abuse by staff. Nearly one tenth of children reported bullying by prison officers in another piece of research; child-on-child bullying was even higher.&nbsp;<span>[</span><a href="http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/young-offenders/tsop/144293children-and-young-people-custody-2011-12.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p>An FOI request I made to the prisons inspectorate revealed that, between July 2009 and March 2014, inspectors reported 130 child protection allegations from 112 children to prison child protection staff or managers following 30 routine inspections of young offender institutions and secure training centres in England.</p><p>Surveys in only two of the inspections resulted in no allegations of child abuse.&nbsp;</p><p>The actual incidence of abuse may be much higher. Surveys of children in unsafe surroundings are unlikely, on their own, to elicit the true level of abuse and other concerns.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice agency that runs prisons is called the National Offender Management Service, or NOMS. Early in 2014 NOMS disclosed that it had paid £252,370 in compensation over the past five years to individuals detained as children or young adults in 12 English prisons.&nbsp;</p><p>Payouts in respect of two child prisons — Warren Hill and Hindley young offender institutions —&nbsp;amounted to £76,000 between 2008/09 and 2012/13. Officials refused to disclose the nature of the claims, supposedly to protect the identity of claimants.&nbsp;</p><p>No data was provided for Ashfield young offender institution (which held children until 2013). As a private prison, it is obliged to provide information only as specified in its government contract, I was told. Nor can such data be unearthed using FOI requests, since private prisons are not covered by FOI legislation.&nbsp;</p><p>Imprisoning children means more than depriving them of their liberty. It squanders precious time that could be spent investigating what has gone wrong in their lives and changing it.&nbsp;<span>Adolescence is a period of massive transformation, when even teenagers living happy lives require careful handling.&nbsp;</span><span>Imprisonment is a deliberate act of rejection, banishment and exclusion – the very antithesis of what these children need.</span></p><p>Child prisoners rarely move from being fully included in society one day, to outsiders the next. Barrister and peer Lord Carlile, who conducted an inquiry into the treatment of child prisoners, described the <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111107-0002.htm#11110733000305">“animalised, brutalised structure”</a> of prison life that compounds what has been missing in the lives of these children.&nbsp;</p><h3>Hard lives, inside and out</h3><p>Our prisons are filled with the poorest, most disadvantaged children who often have considerable mental health and learning difficulties. Even before they begin the admissions process, which involves being given a number, removing clothes and answering questions about suicidal thoughts and substance misuse, the lives of most child prisoners will have told them that they are worthless – certainly worth less than other children.&nbsp;</p><p>Analysis of the forms completed when a child has contact with the criminal justice system shows more than a third of girls have been abused and many have endured significant bereavement or loss (29 per cent) or witnessed family violence (24 per cent). Only 17 per cent live with both their parents. [<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/354833/yjb-girls-offending.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span><span>Children learn in prison that suppressing their feelings and being outwardly tough is the best way to survive. The chances are they believe this already.</span></span></p> <p>Hunger is a common complaint. In January 2014, prisons minister Jeremy Wright told parliament the prison service spent an average of <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140129/text/140129w0004.htm#1401303002129">£1.96 a day on prisoner meals</a> in 2013/14, an 11 per cent reduction on the previous year. Even hospitals spend three times as much.</p> <p>In a recent study of food in young offender institutions, only one of the nine prisons achieved the policy requirement of having no more than 14 hours between evening meal and breakfast.</p> <p>In June 2014, children were served mouldy bread in Cookham Wood young offender institution — while inspectors were on the premises. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Cookham-Wood-Web-2014.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <h3>I can’t breathe</h3> <p>Coroners and judges have ruled that unlawful restraint regimes continued unabated for many years in secure training centres. Human rights bodies have criticised the UK’s reliance on pain infliction as a tool of restraint. </p> <p><a href="http://inquest.org.uk">INQUEST</a>, the charity that supports the bereaved families of children and adults who have died in police and prison custody, told the government in 2007: “the violation of the rights of this large body of children goes worryingly beyond inhumane and humiliating treatment. It has been proved forensically that it presents a persistent risk of injury, suffering or death.” [<a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/pdf/INQUEST_submission_to_moj_dcsf_on_review_of_restaint.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <p>It is a matter of public record that large numbers of children have been injured, many very badly, following restraint in penal institutions over the past decade. </p><p>In November 2011, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111109w0001.htm#111109102000462">parliament was told that 285 ‘exception reports’</a> had been submitted to civil servants since 2006 by commercial contractors G4S and Serco in respect of the four secure training centres. The two companies are required to produce these reports whenever children’s breathing has been compromised during restraint, or they have suffered serious injury requiring hospital treatment.</p><p><span>There are details that do not make their way to parliament, such as the five children who suffered six wrist fractures during restraint in Castington young offender institution between January 2007 and September 2008. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm071205/text/71205w0013.htm">A reply to a question</a> in parliament in December 2007 reported that only one child had suffered such an injury after restraint in that prison that year. Even the government’s correction in September 2009 did not result in the true figure being recorded.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The internal report I obtained through an FOI request states that none of the five children was restrained because they were fighting and that most of the injuries were sustained in areas without CCTV. </p><p>A separate internal prison review was undertaken after six incidents in which children were thought to have suffered a fractured or broken bone during restraint in Hindley young offender institution (one suspected fracture was later found to have been wrongly diagnosed). The injuries occurred between February 2009 and April 2011, and only one of the situations arose because a child was fighting. One boy made an official complaint to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman after he was moved to another prison. It was upheld.</p> <p>Information obtained from the Youth Justice Board records, on average, 84 self-harm incidents in young offender institutions, and 16 in secure training centres, every month throughout 2012. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/130722w0001.htm">Between 2007/08 and 2011/12</a>, 81 children in young offender institutions and 17 in secure training centres required hospital treatment following self-harm.</p> <p><a href="http://www.howardleague.org/susan-story/">One teenage girl</a> incarcerated in a women’s prison in Wakefield self-harmed so badly she needed blood transfusions. She was passed back and forth between prison segregation and hospital until her lawyer at the Howard League for Penal Reform obtained a High Court injunction in 2005 preventing her return to prison.</p> <p>Her barrister, Ian Wise QC, said: </p><blockquote><p>“There were women prison officers who were trying to do the right thing for [the girl] I’m sure, but they were just totally out of their depth. I mean these people have got no training on mental health issues.”</p></blockquote> <h3>Now, strip</h3> <p>As a child protection social worker, I worked with children who had been sexually assaulted in their own homes. I spent a lot of time reassuring children they were not to blame and no-one had the right to hurt them. Some years later, during my work on Lord Carlile’s inquiry, I met children who had been strip-searched in secure training centres. They said they felt embarrassed, degraded and uncomfortable. One girl told me about being strip-searched during her period; she had to pass her sanitary towel to staff for inspection. [<a href="http://www.howardleague.org/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Carlile_Report_pdf.pdf">PDF</a>]&nbsp;</p> <p>Had I still been a social worker, and these children were telling me about their fathers, uncles or children’s homes workers, they would have been officially classed as victims of child abuse. But as child prisoners such routine attacks on their integrity were authorised by the state. </p> <p>Children in young offender institutions have reported being made to squat in front of officers without their underwear. </p> <p>Routine strip-searching was banned for female prisoners several years before the same policy change for children.</p> <p>When Lord Carlile concluded that strip-searching is not necessary to maintain good order and safety, the Youth Justice Board promised a review. Its then chair, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/mar/23/comment.prisonsandprobation">Rod Morgan, argued in <em>The Guardian</em></a>: “Some young people arrive in custody with drugs or weapons hidden on their bodies and clothing. The consequences of drugs or knives inside a secure establishment are not hard to imagine, and every precaution, including searching, has been taken to stop this.” </p> <p>So Morgan and the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;must have had robust evidence that strip-searching was necessary? </p> <p>Not so. </p> <p>The&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;began collecting strip-searching data only in 2011, five years after the Carlile Inquiry reported and eleven years after it was given legal responsibility for booking children into prisons.</p> <p>Rod Morgan resigned in January 2007, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/01_january/26/youth.shtml">telling BBC Newsnight</a>: “I have to say to you that a custodial establishment, no matter how good we make them, is the worst conceivable environment within which to improve somebody’s behaviour.” </p> <h3>How to dehumanise</h3> <p>In June 2011, inspectors observed&nbsp;“petty and restrictive”&nbsp;rules operating in Lancaster Farms young offender institution. Only children on the highest level of the behaviour management scheme could wear their own clothes and even this was restricted to their cells and during other very limited periods. [<a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/prisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/03/lancaster-farms-2011.pdf">PDF</a>] Earlier inspection reports showed this to be institutionally entrenched. </p><p>Five months into the new millennium, inspectors found the prison was experiencing “problems getting Prison Service clothes small enough for many of the residents” and recommended: “Small clothing should be available from Central Prison Service Stores.” [<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110204170815/http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/lancaster_farm_report_-_lat1-rps.pdf">PDF</a>]<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>This was five years after the <a href="http://www.scie-socialcareonline.org.uk/so-who-are-we-meant-to-trust-now-responding-to-abuse-in-care-the-experiences-of-young-people/r/a11G00000017xUQIAY">NSPCC had published a report</a> from survivors of abuse in care. One of the violations depicted in the report concerned the humiliation of being forced to wear communal clothing: </p><blockquote><p>“If we did not achieve so many points we were not allowed to wear our own clothes.”</p></blockquote><p>The final inspection of Warren Hill young offender institution in Suffolk before it became an adult prison in April 2014 reported that children were made to wear prison clothes but could keep their own underwear and socks. The only washing facility for underwear and socks was cell basins, so “many chose to wear prison-issue underclothes”. [<a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/prisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/03/warren-hill-2013.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>A children’s charity was asked to review safeguarding in child prisons and its 2008 report observed that journeys to the young offender institutions&nbsp;<span>“</span><span>get them off to a frightening start. They often arrived late after hours spent in a small, uncomfortable cubicle within a van, frightened not only about where they are being taken to but what will happen to them if the van crashes</span><span>”</span><span>. [<a href="http://www.richmond.gov.uk/areviewofsafeguardinginthesecureestate2008_-_summary.pdf">PDF</a>] Some children were given plastic bags to urinate in, a demeaning practice reported by inspectors as recently as March 2014.</span></p><p>Deborah Coles is the co-director of INQUEST and has been working for the charity since before teenager Philip Knight hanged himself in an adult prison in Swansea in 1990. She told me:</p><blockquote><p>“I didn’t have children when I was involved with Philip Knight, and 1994 was when [my son] was born and I do think that, as my kids have grown up, and you see the vulnerability of your own kids who are in supportive environments with food on the table, have got a home, are relatively stable or go to a nice school, and then you look at these kids who are in prison, it just makes you ... it hits you in a different way actually, it makes you even more ashamed.”</p></blockquote><p>Since Philip’s death, inquests have recorded a verdict of suicide for 12 children’s deaths in penal custody, and accidental death for eight of the children. There were four narrative verdicts, five open verdicts, three verdicts of misadventure and one unlawful killing. Accidental death and misadventure are verdicts given when juries decide a death was unintended; narrative verdicts are detailed statements of the background issues surrounding a person’s death; and an open verdict means there was insufficient evidence to return another verdict.&nbsp;</p><p><span>All but four of the children whose deaths were judged to be suicide were known to have self-harmed in the past or were being monitored at the time of their death. You wouldn’t have to be a child psychiatrist to doubt whether the remaining four could withstand imprisonment. One had developed serious alcohol problems after the death of his mother from cancer on his 14th birthday. Another had severe learning difficulties and was worried about his parents who both had cancer. A third child had endured chronic bullying and requested to be placed in segregation for his own safety. The parents of the fourth child criticised &nbsp;the prison for not allowing their son his medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.</span></p> <p>Two of the 33 children who died as prisoners, 15-year-old Gareth Myatt and 14-year-old&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12297125">Adam Rickwood</a>, were held in secure training centres run by G4S and Serco respectively. These boys died four months apart, 10 years ago, after being subject to appalling forms of restraint.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p><p>Before he lost consciousness, Gareth told the three guards holding him down that he could not breathe. The response was that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">if he could speak he could breathe</a>. He died minutes later from positional asphyxia. The Youth Justice Board suspended the use of the seated double embrace, the authorised hold used on Gareth, two months later.</p> <p>Adam was subject to ‘nose distraction’ — the official euphemism for a severe assault to the nose —&nbsp;just hours before he was found hanging in his cell. Adam’s nose bled for about an hour, and his request to go to hospital for an X-ray was refused. He left behind a note asking what gave staff the right to hit a child in the nose. </p><p>Ministers eventually withdrew this particular technique. However, the deliberate infliction of pain by other methods remains.</p> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="440" height="248" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span>None of the 33 child deaths in prison has been dignified with a public inquiry. Adam Rickwood’s mother told me she is still not certain what her son was wearing when he lost consciousness, since the prison had mislaid some of his clothes.</span></p><p>She described Hassockfield secure training centre in County Durham as “the scariest place I have ever witnessed”. Adam himself, in one letter home, described “a 30-foot wall and cage all around me”.</p> <h3>Politicians and large unpleasant thugs</h3> <p>Michael Howard, the home secretary who signed the first contract for a secure training centre, famously said in 1993 that child offenders “are adult in everything except years”.&nbsp;</p> <p>Fifteen years later, Labour’s secretary of state for justice, Jack Straw, was asked whether he would reverse the UK’s standing in Europe as the greatest child incarcerator. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080610/debtext/80610-0003.htm">He replied: </a></p><p>“Most young people who are put into custody are aged 16 and 17 – they are not children; they are often large, unpleasant thugs, and they are frightening to the public.”</p> <p>On that very day, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080610/text/80610w0029.htm">Straw’s prisons minister told parliament</a> there were 458 children in young offender institutions and secure training centres who were known to be at risk of self-harm, 419 at known risk of drug dependency, 310 with known mental health problems and 91 at known risk of bullying. Nearly 400 children were in prison for the first time.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p>The justice secretary should have been aware that, of the 30 child deaths in custody there had been at the time of his speech, 24 were children aged 16 or 17. All 30 of the dead children were boys.</p> <p>The coalition government’s justice secretary Chris Grayling <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10164447/Crackdown-on-perks-for-young-offenders.html">announced through the Daily Telegraph in July 2013</a> that his department was reviewing the punishment and rewards scheme in child prisons: “It seems ludicrous to me that we dole out privileges regardless of how children behave,” he wrote. “Luxuries must be a reward for good behaviour not an automatic right.” </p> <p>An international review of prison mother and baby units observed that girls in the G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre “can even earn the privilege of putting posters on the walls”. [<a href="http://www.communitymatters.govt.nz/vwluResources/WCMT_Libby_Robins_2011_Final/$file/WCMT_Libby_Robins_2011_Final.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <p>Grayling asserted that children would <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/early-lights-out-for-young-offenders">“face tough sanctions”</a> for breaching a 10.30 pm lights and television curfew.</p> <p>There are many reasons children come to rely on artificial light and television and radio into the early hours, including fear, loneliness and restlessness. </p> <p>I have spoken with children who have had everything removed from their cells as a sanction, including photographs and education certificates from walls. Not one of them has ever told me that this helped improve their behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>This is the first of three edited extracts from&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a></span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end</a>. Part two tomorrow: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a>. And Wednesday: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain’s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a>.&nbsp;Detailed references can be found in the book.&nbsp;</span></p><p><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a><span>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a><span>&nbsp;(</span><span>£12.99&nbsp;</span><span>plus £2.75 postage and packing). Subscribers to the Policy Press newsletter receive a 35 per cent discount. You can sign up&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/subscribe.asp">here</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>Original illustration is by&nbsp;<a href="http://reecewykes.com/">Reece Wykes</a>,&nbsp;working in charcoal, digitally enhanced. Wykes is&nbsp;a London-based illustrator and animator freshly graduated from Kingston University. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ReeceWykes">@ReeceWykes</a></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/lets-respond-to-englands-riots-with-decency-not-by-demonising-our-childr">Let&#039;s respond to England&#039;s riots with decency, not by demonising our children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-sup">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/we-in-uk-punish-girls-for-being-vulnerable">We in the UK punish girls for being vulnerable</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/new-report-confirms-problems-of-short-custodial-sentences-for-children">New report confirms problems of short custodial sentences for children</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 22 Jun 2015 03:54:42 +0000 Carolyne Willow 92817 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Exploding the myth of ‘payment by results’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/andrew-neilson/exploding-myth-of-payment-by-results <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>National Audit Office issues <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/press-releases/outcome-based-payment-schemes-governments-use-of-payment-by-results-2/">damning report</a> on outsourcing model that claims to guarantee value for money.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FINDAVIDCAMERONrocketboosters.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FINDAVIDCAMERONrocketboosters.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="232" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the Centre for Social Justice, October 2012</span></span></span></p><p>Speaking at the Centre for Social Justice in October 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/crime-and-justice-speech">announced a radical acceleration</a> of privatisation across the justice system. He said: “With payment by results, your money goes into what works: prisoners going straight, crime coming down, our country getting safer. It’s such a good idea I want to put rocket boosters under it.”</p> <p><span>Today’s</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/press-releases/outcome-based-payment-schemes-governments-use-of-payment-by-results-2/">report by the National Audit Office</a><span>&nbsp;</span><span>(NAO) reveals that the government is not even monitoring whether p</span>ayment by results<span>&nbsp;works, and explodes the myth that it is a magic bullet solution to intractable social problems.</span></p><p><span></span>Payment by results (PbR), also known as outcome-based payments, is a way to deliver services where all or part of the payment depends on the provider achieving specified outcomes.</p> <p>The public spending watchdog comes up with three overarching findings after examining the recent history of PbR schemes including the Work Programme and the privatisation of the probation service, otherwise known as Transforming Rehabilitation.</p> <p>Firstly, the NAO finds that payment by results is not suited to all public services, and, if applied inappropriately, there is a risk that either service quality or value for money can be undermined.</p> <p>Secondly, it says commissioners should justify their selection of payment by results over alternative models. Piloting it can help in this process.</p> <p>Thirdly, the report describes in some detail how payment by results is a technically challenging form of contracting – one which has attendant costs and risks that government has often underestimated.</p> <p>So, as the Howard League for Penal Reform <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/frances-crook/payment-by-results-merry-go-round">has been warning for years</a>: not a magic bullet. Chances of shooting oneself in the foot: high.</p> <p>The government has staked almost £15 billion worth of contracts on the payment by results magic bullet since 2008/9. The Ministry of Justice is particularly keen. The department’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme represents just over 21 per cent of the entire budget for PbR across government. That’s £3 billion over seven years.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FINAL G4S EVIDENCE IMAGE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FINAL G4S EVIDENCE IMAGE.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="290" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Outsourcer G4S: evidence to Justice Committee, January 2012</span></span></span></p> <p>The Ministry of Justice has had a somewhat Jekyll-and-Hyde approach to PbR over the years. Under Kenneth Clarke, the MoJ focused on carefully piloting PbR in two private prisons – Doncaster and Peterborough. Such an approach is commended by the NAO in their report. But then Chris Grayling took over the department and binned all caution to push a national roll-out of PbR before the pilots’ results were fully understood.</p> <p>We wait to see what Chris Grayling’s successor, Michael Gove, will do. But it seems unlikely that he will throw Grayling’s reforms into reverse, not least because of penalty clauses built into the contracts would punish the taxpayer.</p> <p>If Michael Gove were to consider expanding PbR into other areas of the justice system, he might seek advice from the Cabinet Office or the Treasury. But, as the National Audit Office report reveals, neither of these departments monitor how payment by results is operating across government. Without a systemic collection of lessons or any evaluation of whether it this system is delivering its claimed benefits, there is no central source of comparative evidence to inform the choices that policymakers might make.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the rhetoric marches on without the evidence. We are told that PbR is the ideal method of tackling difficult social problems that lack ready solutions, such as “reducing reoffending”. Yet PbR providers admitted to the NAO that, given the risks associated with this method of commissioning, it is best suited to “issues to which there are known solutions and where the commissioner’s overarching aim is to reduce costs”.</p> <p>PbR mechanisms create perverse incentives, such as the tendency to encourage providers to prioritise those service users who are “easier to help”. The watchdog describes the risk that providers simply focus on “quick wins” that have no lasting impact on longer-term outcomes. Providers may seek to maximise their profit margin on the initial fees alone by cutting costs as far as possible, then largely ignore whatever payment by results element there may be to be earned.</p> <p>The NAO being the NAO, however, the report stops short of damning government policy. In particular, the NAO take certain claims made by the Ministry of Justice at face value. In doing so, further grounds for criticism are missed.</p> <p>Transforming Rehabilitation is too recent to be examined in detail and so the NAO concentrates on the Peterborough and Doncaster pilots, both of which continue to be evaluated despite the ministerial bandwagon moving on. Because the model being rolled-out nationally is different from either pilot, you may think their effectiveness or otherwise is meaningless. But it is fair to say that these pilots were intensive versions of what is now being watered down for widespread consumption across probation.</p> <p>Those schemes offered ‘through the gate’ support to people leaving prison, with an emphasis on short-sentenced prisoners who traditionally have not received such support.</p> <p>Peterborough used a ‘social impact bond’ model where charities and social investors put money into the project. Two groups, or ‘cohorts’, of prisoners leaving the jail would be tracked. If there was a 10 per cent reduction in the frequency of reconviction events for the first cohort against a matched national control group, then a payment would be made to the investors. If a 7.5 per cent reduction occurred across the two cohorts (on average) then a second payment would be made.</p> <p>Doncaster, on the other hand, saw the contractor Serco aiming to achieve a 5 per cent reduction in reconviction rates to cover their core contract costs. If the prison could reach a 6 per cent reduction or higher, then the company would earn additional payments.</p> <p>Both pilots did show reductions in reconviction measures, but not enough to justify the payment by results approach. Peterborough managed an 8.4 per cent reduction in the first cohort and so did not trigger its payment. The NAO blandly report that the second cohort is 2.3 per cent below its comparator group — an interim assessment which would mean that Peterborough also fails to trigger the second round of payments.</p> <p>Doncaster’s first cohort meanwhile did meet its basic target of 5 per cent, as Serco managed 5.7 per cent. But it did not trigger additional payments and the second cohort is also not performing as well in the interim assessment – with only a 3.9 per cent reduction managed thus far.</p> <p>Both pilots were helped by the exclusion of police cautions in calculating reconvictions, despite cautions being included in regular proven reoffending statistics from the Ministry of Justice.</p> <p>At best, then, the pilots show that doing something is better than nothing, without any evidence that PbR is the best way to do that something. </p><p> It is time for the government to scrap the rocket boosters and apply some scrutiny to payment by results.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/who-wins-at-payment-by-results-ask-shareholders-at-serco-company-running-b">Who wins at ‘payment by results’? Ask shareholders at Serco, the company running Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/payment-by-results-merry-go-round">The payment by results merry-go-round</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/privatising-probation-less-crime-fewer-victims-safer-communities-oh-really">Privatising probation: ‘less crime, fewer victims, safer communities.’ Oh, really?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/transforming-probation-or-wrecking-service-that-works">Transforming probation? Or wrecking a service that works?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/g4s-loses-contract-handing-prisons-to-any-commercial-contractor-is-grave-">G4S loses contract. Handing prisons to any commercial contractor is a grave mistake</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Andrew Neilson Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:22:52 +0000 Andrew Neilson 93689 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/toddlers-rats-asbestos-g4s-asylum-seekers-landlord <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why would the UK government let its commercial contractor get away with housing vulnerable asylum seekers in dangerous slums?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/downthestairs.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/downthestairs.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Inside Jane’s flat</span></span></span></p><p>I went to see Jane in her upstairs flat in Sheffield. She was anxious and panicky. “I put anything I can under the doors,” she said. “The rats run up the stairs, and out of the store cupboard into the living room. I am frightened for the children.” </p> <p>This one-bedroom slum flat is what the UK government considers good enough for a lone parent asylum seeker from Africa, her three year old child and her baby, aged seven months. Jane’s landlord is the government contractor, G4S, the world’s largest security company.</p> <p>Jane’s flat wasn’t easy to find. I was directed by a neighbour through a damaged door only a few feet away from the Sheffield Supertram rails and down a dingy passage.</p> <p>Jane answered her mobile and warned me about the double buggy blocking the steep stairs and her only entrance door. She told me later: “I have to leave it there, I cannot struggle up and down the stairs with it and my two children.” </p> <p>There were child safety gates on the living room and kitchen sides of the stairs, but none at the head of the stairs. Jane said: “I turned my back one day and I found him [her three year old] swinging on a gate over the drop in the stairs. I can’t let him run around and play properly. There’s a hole in the corner of the living room floor. And it’s dangerous outside.” </p> <p>Jane showed me exposed pipework and plugs and wires near the hole in the living room. I had already seen the back yard and the abandoned toilet area where the rats were coming from. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/tramlines.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/tramlines.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tramlines. “It’s dangerous outside.”</span></span></span>Jane said: “The G4S worker thought the flat was OK and just told me to store the heavy buggy upstairs, he said it’s dangerous to block the stairs if there is a fire.” </p> <p>Jane had been in the flat for three weeks. Over the previous two weeks she had been ringing G4S about the flat and the rats. </p> <p>“Twice they said they were sending pest control – nobody arrived. My neighbour rang for me and still no-one has been.” </p> <p>After I left Jane’s flat I rang the City Council pest control team. They arrived the next day. The council instructed G4S to send their pest control contractor. They finally turned up almost three weeks after Jane’s first calls. </p> <p><span>The Home Office is obliged to provide accommodation for asylum seekers and their families while their cases are being processed.</span></p> <p>In March 2012, the government contracted out these services to three companies, G4S, Serco and Reliance. (There’s a useful summary here: <a href="http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/10287-001.Executive-Summary.pdf">PDF</a>)</p> <p>G4S, Serco and Reliance were known among asylum seekers as the companies that drove them to detention centres and locked them up.&nbsp;<span>Only Reliance (which formed a joint venture with a housing company) could claim any experience of the asylum housing sector.</span></p><p><span>G4S may be best known for its shambolic work on security at the London Olympics. Among asylum seekers G4S is the company that </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">killed asylum seeker, Jimmy Mubenga</a><span>.</span></p> <p><span>The new housing arrangements have been a shambles from day one. Over the past three years, </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">here on openDemocracy</a><span>, I have told of children exposed to health risks in </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/living-with-rats-landlord-g4s">rat-infested homes</a><span>, lone women&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/their-secret-is-out-but-for-g4s-and-friends-%E2%80%98abject-disregard-for-human-dign">intimidated by their landlords</a><span>, a </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">cockroach in the baby<span>’</span>s bottle</a><span>.</span></p> <p>Jane’s flat is just one of the G4S slum properties in Sheffield that asylum seekers have shown me around over the past weeks.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/tony&#039;s bathroom.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/tony&#039;s bathroom.JPG" alt="" title="" width="440" height="330" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tony’s bathroom</span></span></span></p><p>In a dingy terrace house in a working class suburb of Sheffield I meet Tony, a Palestinian asylum seeker who wearily tells me of his nine years being bounced in and out of immigration detention and around the asylum housing system. Since making his original asylum claim in Bristol in 2006, he has been housed in Cardiff, Plymouth, Birmingham, Peterborough, Ipswich, Nottingham, Rochdale, and a few times in Bristol.</p> <p>Tony has lost the sight in one eye and is losing the sight in the other one. He was living in Bristol and undergoing treatment for kidney trouble at Bristol Royal Infirmary when he got the Home Office order: “I got the letter that I was moving again. They didn’t tell me where I was going.”</p> <p>G4S staff brought him 180 miles north to Sheffield to a filthy back street terrace house. “This house is the worst they have given me in all those years,” Tony said. </p> <p>G4S is obliged to help Tony to travel for essential medical treatment and registration with a local GP, but that hasn’t happened. </p> <p>It’s a ten mile round trip from his new home to the Sheffield eye clinic. I took him there after he showed me the house. Tony told me that in the week he had been in Sheffield, “I was given a map to find advice places and I walked into the city – I had no cash for the bus”. He had to walk four miles into the city centre to a drop-in advice centre and then another four miles back to his house. </p> <p>Tony had no cash, only his government-issued Azure card allowing him a little over £5 a day and only useable at specified supermarkets.</p> <p>How was his new home? “The carpets were dirty, there was rubbish dumped outside at the back, the bathroom was filthy and I was given a room with the furniture broken. They said they wouldn’t take me back to Bristol, I had to stay in the house.”</p> <p>When I contacted Tony a few days later, G4S had brought a vacuum cleaner for Tony to clean the living room he shared with three other tenants. The day after that G4S called back and took the vacuum cleaner away. </p> <p>Earlier this year, at a meeting with a Home Office official, local Sheffield voluntary sector workers were given a copy of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/meet-uk’s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">The Dial</a>, a visual representation of the government’s&nbsp;strategy that treats undocumented migrants as criminals. Part of this strategy is to&nbsp;<span>“Create an environment that makes it harder to enter and live illegally in the UK”.</span></p> <p>Tony is a Section 4 ‘failed asylum seeker’ in Home Office terms, living ‘illegally’ in the UK. Tony is also a very vulnerable human being whose failing health after nine years in the UK’s asylum ‘support’ system makes a mockery of claims that the UK<em> </em>has “<a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-slippery-cynical-politics-of-asylum/">a long tradition of providing sanctuary</a> for those fleeing persecution”</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/The Dial hand out adjust.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/The Dial hand out adjust.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="362" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Dial, part of the Home Office’s armoury in the fight against “immigration crime”.</span></span></span></span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Balbir is an Asian asylum seeker I met in another G4S asylum property. Balbir told me that he’s been locked up in various immigration detention centres – Dover, Dungavel in Scotland, Campsfield near Oxford, and Morton Hall in Lincolnshire. “I was detained in Harmondsworth; that’s a torture centre not a detention centre,” he said.</span></p> <p>Balbir constantly protested about his treatment over nine long months and was constantly moved, he says, as a punishment. “I was finally released because I proved that I had been trafficked, and the High Court said that trafficked asylum seekers could not be kept in detention centres.”</p> <p>Balbir was sent to asylum housing in Sheffield – to a slum property with a history of rats and disrepair. By this time Balbir could only get out of bed with crutches and was suicidal. (He showed me scars from his self-harming). </p> <p>“My doctors wrote to the Home Office, I had carers visiting three times a day and they officially complained. G4S then moved me to a clean house near to the hospital and my doctors.” </p> <p>Balbir became distressed and angry as he described how G4S had then moved him again to this shared slum house. “They moved me here from a clean house to this filthy place with real risks to my health.” </p> <p>I had seen in the entrance hall an asbestos warning notice posted after an inspection by the council. There was a large hole in the ceiling in the kitchen where an asbestos risk had been detected. Balbir said: “My carers immediately wrote in their log that the kitchen was dangerous and I have had only cold food here for two weeks.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/asbestos_notice.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/asbestos_notice.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A warning at Balbir’s house</span></span></span></p><p>The asylum housing contract demands that when asbestos risks are discovered the Home Office and G4S immediately move people out of the property. That didn’t happen.</p><p>A G4S repair man who came to the house called it the “worst house G4S has in Sheffield”, and said that G4S had sent letters notifying residents that they were to be moved out. Meanwhile,&nbsp;<span>G4S moved Balbir in and kept him there despite medical evidence of harm.&nbsp;</span><span>He told me: “In the last month my doctors have sent five letters to the Home Office about my worsening health and the housing I have been forced into.”</span></p> <p><span>I added my protest to G4S. The company is well aware that I write about these matters&nbsp;</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">here on openDemocracy</a><span>&nbsp;and that I help local reporters and the housing press.</span></p> <p>Balbir has since been moved to staffed accommodation suitable for his conditions, provided by a G4S specialist housing contractor. In a phone call he confirmed to me that at last he felt safe and cared for in his new accommodation. </p> <p>Every move of asylum seekers around detention centres and from asylum housing addresses has to be pre-authorised by the Home Office. Public servants and corporate executives are complicit in exposing people to shoddy treatment around the slums of Sheffield.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/alan_collapsed_ceiling_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/alan_collapsed_ceiling_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="440" height="330" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alan’s ceiling</span></span></span></p> <p>Alan, a young man from the Middle East, lives in another G4S slum in Sheffield. He and six other asylum seekers – from Ivory Coast, Sudan, Palestine, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan —&nbsp;each have a single room. Alan claimed asylum three years ago. He’d been detained for three months, then stayed with friends, and finally he was given asylum housing in the Greater Manchester area. “It was really good quality one of the flats I stayed in was new,” he told me. “At home I had a background in the arts so I enrolled on a college course.”</p> <p>For personal reasons Alan asked for a move to the Sheffield area. “I was shocked when I arrived at this house. There were rats there. I discovered them on the first floor in my room and other rooms. We killed a few and got G4S to put poison down.” </p> <p>It wasn’t just the rats. “For the past two months there has been a hole in the kitchen ceiling,” Alan told me. “It collapsed after a major leak from a shower above. For the past two weeks the other shower has been out of action and we have all had to get showers at friends, or at the gym at college.”</p> <p>Outs<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/alan&#039;s_back_yard_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/alan&#039;s_back_yard_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alan’s back yard</span></span></span>ide, near the back door, Alan showed me a filthy stagnant pool. </p> <p>It’s not as if G4S and its subcontractor didn’t know things were this bad. Balbir had lived here. His carers had complained about the conditions, so G4S had moved him on. Alan said the men’s complaints to G4S and the subcontractor were ignored.</p> <p><span>Why not provide decent housing?</span></p> <p>My years of research and reporting, the conditions I have witnessed and the tenants I have listened to convince me that these degrading and dangerous conditions are not just a matter of incompetence and failed compassion.</p> <p><span>It’s worse than that. On paper — the G4S Home Office contract — the company is obliged to provide accommodation that meets the </span><a href="http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_social_housing/the_decent_home_standard">“Decent Homes Standard”</a><span> that applies to all council and housing association homes.</span></p> <p>It’s not a hard standard to reach. A home must meet minimum safety standards.&nbsp;Among the obvious no-nos are broken glass, damaged asbestos, blocked drains, dampness, mould growth, rats, cockroaches. The home must be in a reasonable state of repair, have reasonably modern facilities and services, efficient heating, effective insulation. Any&nbsp;home that does not meet all four criteria fails the standard.</p> <p>So why does the Home Office allow G4S to house asylum seekers in rat-infested slums?</p> <p>Here are some clues. In October 2014 Lord Hylton asked the government: “what naval or air-sea rescue contribution they will make to prevent refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean?”</p> <p>The Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay gave <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/141015w0001.htm">this written reply</a>: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. We believe that they create an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.”</p> <p>Let’s reflect on that. If rescuing fellow human beings is a “pull factor”, is letting them drown a useful deterrent?</p> <p>In September 2009, Dave Wood, who bore the title “Director of Criminality and Detention” at the UK Border Agency, was called before<a href="http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhaff/970/09091604.htm"> the Home Affairs Committee.</a> They asked him: “Why are children detained under the immigration system, because they have not done anything wrong, have they?”</p> <p>Wood explained that the lack of detention “<a href="http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhaff/970/09091604.htm">would act as a significant magnet and pull to families from abroad”.</a></p> <p>Letting people drown, locking up innocent children, forcing people to live in slum dwellings with cockroaches and rats, it’s all part of the same shameful game: deterrence.</p><hr /><p><strong><em>All photography by John Grayson. Asylum seekers' names have been changed. Liked this article? Could you support us with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate">£3 a month</a>&nbsp;so that we can keep producing independent journalism?</em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/meet-uk-s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">Meet the UK’s latest weapon against organised crime and asylum seekers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">Destitution, intimidation . . . 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Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Tue, 16 Jun 2015 23:00:10 +0000 John Grayson 93524 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>G4S appoints “new leadership”&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">at Rainsbrook</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">: the man in charge when Gareth Myatt, 15, was restrained to death, the man who told an inquest he&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">hadn’t read the restraint manual.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*ay_103585985.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*ay_103585985.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Staff at Rainsbrook, a G4S-run children’s prison near Rugby, took illegal drugs and subjected children to “degrading treatment” and “racist comments” according to an inspection report published this week. </p> <p>The report follows an unannounced inspection by Ofsted, HM Prisons Inspectorate and the Care Quality Commission in February this year.</p> <p>After the inspection, G4S appointed “new leadership” at Rainsbrook, which holds children aged 12 to 18. Yesterday I heard that John Parker had been put back in charge. I checked with G4S. They confirmed it was true.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-xsmall'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="167" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xsmall imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>My thoughts went to Pam Wilton, the mother of Gareth Myatt, whom I interviewed last year. She told me there’d been no justice for her son.</p> <p>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre is where Gareth, aged 15, of mixed race, and small for his age, died during a horrific ‘restraint’ by three G4S guards in 2004.&nbsp;<span>John Parker was Rainsbrook’s director at the time. He admitted at the inquest into Gareth’s death that he had </span><a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1069514/youth-custody-myatt-inquiry-hears-restraint-failures">never read the Home Office manual</a><span> governing the use of restraint in his prison.</span></p> <p>(One guard involved in that lethal restraint, 16 stone Dave Beadnall, was <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">later promoted</a> to the post of safety, health and environmental manager at G4S children’s services.)</p><p>This week’s report, which condemns Rainsbrook as “inadequate”, the worst possible category of performance, leaves many questions unanswered.</p> <p>It fails to convey what the G4S guards did to the children, claiming: “The full details of a number of very serious incidents have not been included to protect&nbsp;individual young people’s confidentiality.”</p> <p>Also unclear is the performance of the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/youth-justice-board-for-england-and-wales/about">Youth Justice Board</a>, which oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales and contracts prison places for children.</p> <p>In every secure training centre run by commercial contractors there are YJB monitors employed by the state. Monitors are under a <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/8">statutory duty to investigate allegations against custody officers and to report these and any other concerns to Ministers</a>.</p> <p>What did the YJB and its monitors know of the “serious incidents” at Rainsbrook? When did they know it? </p> <p>YJB chief executive Lin Hinnigan said in a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/yjb-response-to-hmip-and-ofsted-inspection-of-rainsbrook-secure-training-centre">written statement</a> issued on Wednesday: “Earlier this year, Ofsted informed the YJB of serious concerns in performance at Rainsbrook STC.”</p> <p>But speaking yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme&nbsp;<span>(here,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vfdzj">at 1hr 13mins</a><span>),&nbsp;</span><span>Paul Cook, G4S’s director of children’s services, suggested that G4S had shared information with YJB monitors about the serious incidents soon after they happened.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The timing is important, not least because the YJB renewed G4S’s <a href="http://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail/12275340.html">contract in 2014</a>.</p> <p>“This is an extremely disappointing report for everyone connected with Rainsbrook,” said Paul Cook. “It’s the first time in 16 years that the centre has been found by any inspecting body to be less than good or outstanding.”</p> <p>That chimes with&nbsp;<span>Lin Hinnigan and&nbsp;</span><span>the YJB press release</span><span>: “We are confident that Rainsbrook will return to the high levels of performance and care it previously delivered,” she said.</span></p> <p>Good. Outstanding. High levels of performance.&nbsp;<span>Such language is highly misleading.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/hinnigan.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/hinnigan.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="208" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Parker, G4S; Lin Hinnigan, Youth Justice Board; Paul Cook, G4S</span></span></span></p> <p>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre opened in July 1999. In April 2004, 15 year-old Gareth Myatt died after being held face down in a seated position by three officers. He had been admitted on a Friday and was dead by the Monday. </p> <p>The officers who held Gareth down, and ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe, had been tutored in this restraint technique by a trainer known to her colleagues as ‘Clubber Clay’. Other staff nicknames included ‘Mauler’, ‘Crusher’ and ‘Breaker’. This information came out during the inquest into Gareth’s death.</p><p>Four years after Gareth’s death, a Rainsbrook team leader&nbsp;<a href="http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/institute-staff-member-dragged-teen-to-cell-1-898855">dragged a 13 year-old child along tarmac and then up a flight of stairs within the prison, before putting him in his cell</a>; he was convicted of actual bodily harm.</p><p> During a failed negligence claim in 2010, brought by one of the officers who fatally restrained Gareth, the Court of Appeal was given data on the ‘seated double embrace’ restraint technique. In the year preceding Gareth’s death, this was used on children in Rainsbrook 369 times. <a href="http://www.42br.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Smith-v-Youth-Justice-Board.pdf">Children suffered harm in “almost one case in three”; in 10 per cent of the total incidents, this had been life-threatening</a>.</p><p> In 2012, the High Court found that all four of the secure training centres then operating (three run by G4S, one by Serco) had been <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/8.html">unlawfully restraining children for up to a decade</a>.</p> <p>Paul Cook is aware that both the High Court and the inquest into Gareth’s death criticised inspectors, YJB monitors and G4S management for failing to notice that children were being abused. What credibility can we give to those earlier ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ reports when we know children were repeatedly unlawfully restrained?</p><p class="Default"> Let’s take a closer look at this week’s Ofsted revelations. <br /> <br /> “Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs,” the report says.</p><p class="Default"> There was&nbsp; “poor application of restraint” and staff caused “distress and humiliation” to children. Some of those responsible were in “positions of leadership”.</p><p class="Default"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="395" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Private Eye May 2010 (issue 1262)</span></span></span>One child with a fracture “potentially” caused by restraint was not allowed medical treatment for 15 hours. </p> <p class="Default">This seems to be the “unfortunate incident” Cook referred to on the Today programme, when he was pressed to explain why the then prison’s director had overruled clinical advice that the child required hospital assessment.</p><p class="Default"> I asked Ofsted for the age of the child, the nature of the fracture and whether it was the result of restraint. </p><p class="Default">Ofsted replied:&nbsp;“We’re unable to provide this level of detail for privacy reasons.” <br /> <br /> In the six months prior to the inspection, 15 children were injured during restraint; another four required hospital treatment after “violent incidents”. Nearly half of restraints occurred because a child was self-harming.</p><p> Proper ‘debriefing’ of children after restraint was one of the measures introduced after Gareth’s death. The YJB contracts independent advocacy from the children’s charity Barnardo’s. </p><p>One of the service’s functions, included in the specification I obtained through a freedom of information request, is to offer “proactive support following restraint”. Yet, inspectors found “few” children who have been restrained take up the offer of speaking with Barnardo’s advocates. Why?&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The report said that healthcare staff do not attend restraint incidents —&nbsp;another vital safeguard not being implemented. And there were delays in restraint information being passed to the government team monitoring the use of Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), the system of restraint developed in response to the deaths of Gareth and Adam Rickwood, a 14 year-old boy who killed himself after being restrained in a different prison (now closed). It took G4S six months to report one serious incident. (Rainsbrook was the first child prison to adopt MMPR, <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715125548/http://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/behaviour-management-and-restraint-update">in March 2013</a>. Hardly teething problems.)<br /> <br /> Inspectors state there were witnesses to some of the “gross misconduct”. But these witnesses took no action. Why not?</p> <p class="Default">Children had submitted 174 written complaints during 2014, and made an additional 111 ‘grumbles’ – the G4S process for “low level issues”. The majority of complaints “concerned property”, for example clothing or personal items going missing, Ofsted told me. This is common in institutional settings.</p><p><span>On admission c</span>hildren were “routinely” given a&nbsp;<span>“</span><span>dignity search</span>”.<span>&nbsp;No description is given of the process; previous inspection reports indicate that children are patted down over their clothing.</span></p> <p>Inspectors visiting Rainsbrook in December 2012 were similarly told that only dignity searches were in use. When they asked children about their experiences, they discovered <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20December%202012.pdf">“a number”</a> had been required to strip off in front of officers on admission. No such concerns were raised this time, though inspectors observed the presence of a bed in the searching room “may be unsettling” for children, especially those who have been abused.</p> <p class="Default">Inspectors found eight cases of serious staff misconduct occurring since the prison was last scrutinised in November/December 2013. There were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/20/misconduct-youth-jail-rainsbrook-ofsted-g4s">“at least” six sackings</a>. The numbers point to institutional, rather than individual, dysfunction. </p> <p class="Default">The inspectorates highlight the absence of a wider investigation, which could “provide reassurance that the high number of serious incidents of staff misconduct are not indicative of a wider negative underlying staff culture”. That’s seems to be a polite way of saying the staff culture could be rotten. </p> <p>At the time of the inspection this past February, Rainsbrook&nbsp; held 77 boys and girls aged 12 to 18. A survey of 54 of them revealed that 57 per cent had been in local authority care, a quarter were under the age of 16, and 17 per cent were disabled. Eleven of the children received no visits at all from family, carers or friends. &nbsp;</p> <p>Such children are uniquely vulnerable. They rely upon the YJB and its chief executive Lin Hinnigan, who has had a long career in the service of children, including as a teacher, social worker and educational psychologist, to protect them from harm.</p><p> If the YJB continues to find itself unable to terminate G4S’s contract, then government ministers must intervene to protect children and end this unhealthy relationship of co-dependency. How about Nicky Morgan, the government minister in charge of child protection, or Michael Gove, in charge of justice and prisons, or Theresa May, in charge of the institutional abuse inquiry? One of them must surely recognise that children can never be safe in this prison.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p class="paddingtonpresslist"><strong><em>Think this piece matters? Please donate to OurKingdom </em></strong><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><strong><em>here </em></strong></a><strong><em>to help keep us producing independent journalism. Thank you.</em></strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. 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