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Thursday, 12 December

Channel 4 Exposé Causes Serco Embarrassment

The trouble for Serco has continued with the latest exposé by Channel 4 News.

The coverage uncovered a number of staff at the Bedfordshire immigration centre behaving in a racist and abusive manner and has already led to two of them being suspended. This latest coverage shows staff calling the detainees "animals", "beasties" and "bitches".

Serco took over the management of the centre in 2007 and has been dogged by allegations of staff acting inappropriately towards the women inmates. Located 50 miles north of London in the Bedfordshire countryside, Yarl’s Wood is the main immigration removal centre for women and families in the UK. Most of its near 400 detainees are failed asylum seekers who, Channel 4 News observes, have committed no crime.

Although Serco awarded the contract by the previous Labour government, Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, called on the government to stop the use of such centres for this category of detainees which included pregnant women. "This is state-sanctioned abuse of women on the Home Secretary's watch and it needs to end now," she told the House of Commons.

Serco has responded to the criticism but pointed out that it had not received film footage prior to the broadcast on Monday. "We will not tolerate poor conduct or disrespect and will take disciplinary action wherever appropriate,” stated James Thorburn, MD, Serco's Home Affairs business. “We recognise that the public needs to be confident that Yarl's Wood is undertaking its difficult role with professionalism, care and humanity.”

Serco has announced that the respected former barrister, Kate Lampard will conduct an independent review of its work at Yarl's Wood.

Picture: Yarl’s Wood immigration centre where some of Serco’s staff have been found to be abusive to women detainees in a Channel 4 News exposé.

Article written by Mike Gannon

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