G4S back under the spotlight

Last night (4 September), BBC Panorama broadcast disturbing footage of adults being subjected to physical, emotional and psychological abuse in Brook House immigration removal centre at Gatwick Airport, London.

Nine G4S officers have been suspended.

G4S continues to run the centre.

The abuse scandal follows a similar exposé of serious mistreatment in a child prison, Medway secure training centre, run by G4S between April 1998 and July 2016. That programme was broadcast in January 2016 and led to the suspension of 11 officers and a major police investigation, called Operation Woodley.

Although G4S was deemed unfit to continue looking after children in Medway secure training centre – it was taken over by the prison service in July last year – the UK Government continues to pay the company to look after detained vulnerable children in two child prisons (Oakhill secure training centre and Parc juvenile young offender institution) and in Gatwick pre-departure accommodation (part of Tinsley House immigration removal centre). Children are occasionally also held in Brook House immigration removal centre.

In May this year, Article 39 submitted a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Justice to probe when G4S stopped being paid to run Medway secure training centre, and to ask for a copy of G4S’s improvement plan for the child prison prior to the prison service taking over its management.

Yesterday we heard the Information Commissioner’s Office had asked the Ministry of Justice to respond to us on 11 August.

We have still not received a response.

This is what we asked: