Brook House Immigration Removal Centre
Broker House facility opened in March 2009 as a newly built facility with a capacity of 448 people, which increased in 2017 to 508. The facility is built to a Category B security level. Brook House is built near to the immigration removal centre at Tinsley House, also at Gatwick and operated by G4S, which opened in May 1996 with a capacity of 153.[not in citation given] The facility was built on a similar design to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre at Heathrow and was initially intended to provide relatively short-term accommodation for male detainees.
In 2010 the Chief Inspector of Prisons Dame Anne Owers declared the facility "fundamentally unsafe" due to bullying, violence, and drugs. Detainees were being held for an average of three months, and at least one man for ten months, in facilities designed for short-term 72-hour stays.
A report published in March 2017 showed significant improvement, with Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke stating that staff were to be congratulated. Whilst there was still criticism on the layout and prison-like environment, praises were made for the staff-detainee relationship and facilities available. The overall assessment as of March 2017 was "reasonably good".
Abuse of detainees and financial irregularities
In September 2017, an investigation by BBC Panorama revealed "widespread self-harm and attempted suicides" in the centre, and claimed that drug use among detainees was "rife". Covert footage recorded by a detention custody officer appeared to show other officers mocking, abusing and assaulting detainees. As a result of the programme, G4S suspended one nurse, six detention custody officers and two managers, and placed five other members of staff on restrictive duties, pending investigation. In addition, a former G4S officer, now employed by the Home Office, was also suspended. He was later dismissed from the Home Office, but a criminal investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service found that there was insufficient evidence to charge him in relation to the alleged assault. G4S said the staff suspensions were a "precaution" and advised the BBC that it had reported the allegations to "the relevant authorities". An internal inquiry carried out by the Home Office's Professional Standards Unit found that the treatment of one of the detainees who, having previously been a victim of torture, was suffering from mental illness and was suicidal, amounted to "inhuman treatment" which "did not involve proportionate use of force and was not in accordance with any approved control and restraint technique". In addition, the report identified that there had been collusion by G4S staff not to record the events. In May 2018 the High Court of Justice gave the detainee, and another individual who had been held at the facility, permission to seek an independent public inquiry into claims of systemic abuse by G4S.
Following on from the Panorama investigation, the BBC reported that it had been shown financial documents, including a slide-show presentation from January 2014, indicating that in 2013 G4S had made a pre-tax profit of more than £2.4M, or just under 20%, on the running of Brook House and a further 1.5M (27.3%) from Tinsley House. A former senior manager with G4S who had been present at finance meetings told the BBC that these profits were "far in excess of what was meant to be made" from the detention centres' contract with the Home Office, and claimed that managers were pressured to pay existing staff overtime rather than creating additional expenditure by recruiting new staff to fill rota gaps.
G4S senior executive Peter Neden, speaking to a cross-party government select committee chaired by Yvette Cooper after the revelations, said the profits reported by the BBC did not take account of costs, but refused to disclose Brook House's finances, citing commercial interests. Neden told the committee he was "ashamed" by the abuse revelations and confirmed that G4S was co-operating with a police inquiry. A former duty director at Brook House gave evidence to the select committee, claiming to have raised concerns to senior management, police, MPs and government ministers about the staff and management culture in institutions run by the company from 2001 until his resignation in 2014, but asserted that no action had been taken and he had found himself "marginalised within the organisation" as a result of his attempt to whistle-blow. He made the further assertion it was "categorically" the case that G4S had boosted its profits by falsely billing the Home Office for non-existent staff and equipment, and that the Home Office had colluded in this. Eight days after this news was reported, it was announced that Ben Saunders, the facility's director, had resigned "with immediate effect".
On October 18th Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, calling for a prompt and independent inquiry into the abuse allegations. In the letter, Hilsanreth advised Rudd that the alleged abuse potentially breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibiting torture and "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"): in addition, Hilsenreth suggested that the alleged abuse might highlight a wider problem extending to other immigration removal centres in the UK, raising concerns about the government's decision to outsource the management of such facilities. Hilsenrath said she expected a response to the letter within 14 days and warned the Home Secretary that the EHRC would consider bringing a judicial review if the government failed to act.
In May 2018, the Independent Monitoring Board's annual report identified a "spike" in violence, both detainee-on-detainee and detainee-on-staff, an attempted escape, and protests against removals during the preceding year, and noted that staff had used force against detainees more than 300 times, twice as much as the previous year.
In October 2018 the Home Office confirmed that, after being threatened with legal proceedings over the treatment of two detainees, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman would be carrying out a "dedicated, special investigation" on the understanding that the legal action was called off.
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- "Accommodation Services". G4S United Kingdom. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
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- Travis, Alan (12 July 2010). "Gatwick deportation centre 'not safe'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "Brook House Immigration Removal Centre – clear improvements". HM Inspectorate of Prisons. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- Shaw, Danny (2 November 2018). "Former G4S Brook House security guard not to be prosecuted". BBC News.
- "Detainees 'mocked and abused' at immigration centre". BBC News. 1 September 2017.
- Taylor, Diane (22 May 2018). "Former immigration detainees can seek public inquiry over abuse claims". The Guardian.
- "G4S: 'Serious questions' over immigration removal centre profits". BBC News. 13 September 2017.
- "G4S refuses to disclose immigration centre profits". BBC News. 14 September 2017.
- "G4S immigration centre boss Ben Saunders resigns". BBC News. 22 September 2017.
- "Brook House: Inquiry call into immigration centre allegations". BBC News. 18 October 2017.
- "Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at BROOK HOUSE IRC for reporting Year 2017" (PDF). Independent Monitoring Boards. May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
- "Brook House: 'Dramatic increase' in force against detainees". BBC News. 2 May 2018.
- "Inquiry to be held into Brook House detainees 'abuse'". BBC News. 11 October 2018.
- Taylor, Diane (11 October 2018). "Home Office agrees to inquiry into immigrant abuse allegations". The Guardian.