Yarls wood

Why Does Serco Continue to be Forgiven?

Outsourcing firm Serco will take responsibility for two Gatwick immigration removal centres (IRCs), despite being disgraced for their inhumane treatment of migrants worldwide.

As of May 21 2020, Serco will be responsible for Brook House and Tinsley House IRCs until 2028. G4S decided not to renew their contracts.

Director of Public Law and Immigration at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, Toufique Hossain, said: “Let’s not forget what vulnerable women described as ‘hell on earth’ in relation to Serco-run Yarl’s Wood.”

A Channel 4 News investigation went undercover in Yarl’s Wood. [Image: Channel 4.]

Hossain’s comments can be linked to the 2015 Channel 4 documentary which brought awareness to the abuse women were facing in Yarl’s Wood IRC including being referred to as “bitches” and “animals.” Guards were caught on camera threatening to “beat” detainees.

Former detainees came forward to report the sexual abuse they face at the hands of Serco guards while in care of the IRC, with allegations that some guards suggest in return for sexual favours they will ‘help’ the women with their immigration cases.

Critics are sceptical and they have the right to be considering Serco’s well-documented failures

Former Serco directors Nicholas Woods and Simon Marshall were charged with fraud by false representation and false accounting in relation to representations made to the Ministry of Justice between 2011 and 2013.

Last July the company was fined £19.2million after it was claimed they overcharged the Government for their services and were claiming for cases where individuals were either imprisoned, no longer in the UK or deceased.

In terms of taking over the new contracts on the IRCs, Serco is contracted to implement a number of rules, including giving detainees access to educational activities, recruit more staff to assist with ensuring detainees’ welfare and have staff appropriately trained in safeguarding and vulnerability. 

Serco is set to take over from G4S’ immigration detention centres [Image: BBC].

Critics are sceptical and they have the right to be considering Serco’s well-documented failures. The Paradise Papers, an international investigation led by The Guardian and other media outlets document Serco’s poor performance not just in the UK but in Australia, only adding to the reports of abuses of power by Serco guards in IRCs.

Why is it acceptable that Serco is given responsibility when their behaviour shows a complete lack of interest and care for the vulnerable people they should be protecting?

As one senior compliance officer stated in the papers: “It [Serco] has a history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging.”

Why is it acceptable that Serco is given responsibility when their behaviour shows a complete lack of interest and care for the vulnerable people they should be protecting? Despite, shamefully, a ruling excusing Serco’s mass eviction of asylum seekers from their homes in Scotland as lawful it doesn’t change the fact it caused mass misery and poverty.

The Government is on a deportation-happy marathon, sending West Indian men who have previously been convicted of crimes – many one-time, non-violent offences – yet when it comes to the alleged crimes of Serco, they’re rewarded with further contracts. How is it fair that we deny certain people who are notably migrants, and men of colour, a second chance yet give a failing company that has inflicted harm upon vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees chance after chance?

These double standards must be exposed and addressed for what they are: a total lack of care for the lives of people this Government must-see as inferior, as there is no sensible explanation for such injustice.

Join the discussion