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Wednesday, 09 May 2018

G4S contract extension 'not commensurate' with humane migration system, Diane Abbott

Written by Jon Vale

Renewing a G4S contract to manage an immigration centre "is not commensurate with a humane system of dealing with migrants" the public wants after the Windrush scandal, Diane Abbott has said.

The shadow home secretary said it was "a scandal" the firm's contract to run Brook House, where the BBC's Panorama programme broadcast undercover footage which appeared to show workers bullying and abusing men who were held there, and Tinsley House had been extended.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins told MPs the contract had been extended for two years while fresh work was carried out to find a long-term manager for the centre.

Ms Abbott, asking an urgent question in the Commons, said: "We have seen with the Windrush scandal that the public want an immigration system that is fair and efficient, and bears down on illegal immigration.

"But they also want an immigration system that is humane.

"Many people will feel that renewing this contract, even for two years, given what people know about G4S's record, is not commensurate with a humane system of dealing with migrants."

She listed a series of failings on G4S contracts, including the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who died during a deportation flight where he was restrained by G4S guards.

Ms Abbott added that there were concerns the announcement had been published on the Friday after the local elections, saying: "There must be suspicion the Government was hoping to presumably escape scrutiny. It's a greater scandal the contract was renewed at all."

Ms Atkins said the Government had agreed "a short-term continuation" of the contract while further work is carried out to identify a long-term manager.

She added: "The Home Office will launch a further full competition later this year, after the outcome of two independent reviews.

"The contract for the management of Brook House and Tinsley House, which was due to expire this month, was put out for tender in November 2016. However, after careful consideration of the bids, it was decided that G4S would continue with the contract for a further two years.

"This will provide sufficient time to reflect on the two independent reviews' conclusions, conduct a new procurement exercise, and mobilise the successful provider."

Ms Atkins reiterated that some of the behaviour broadcast by the BBC was "utterly unacceptable", but said a comprehensive action plan had been introduced and improvements had been made by G4S.

The decision to renew the contract was taken during purdah and was announced at the first available opportunity after the local elections, she added.

Ms Atkins said: "We can agree across this House that we wish to have an immigration system that respects those who abide by the rules, that treats people fairly and with dignity and with respect."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Gareth Fuller / PA Wire.