RAPAR Statement on SERCO
RAPAR is deeply concerned about the current role and activities of SERCO, an organisation charged with the provision of accommodation to asylum-seekers in the UK.
Following a freedom of information request submitted by Inside Housing Magazine last April, the UKBA was forced to reveal its plans to slash its asylum housing budget by almost thirty million pounds.
The UKBA ran a full tendering process for contracts through its COMPASS project, to replace current contracts and further reduce costs. In December last year, SERCO, along with G4S and Reliance, were awarded contracts to provide asylum accommodation across the UK for the next five years.
Serco has been the subject of many claims of abuse and assault by detainees. For example, in February 2010, 84 women detained in Yarl's Wood went on hunger strike in protest at their prolonged detention and inhumane treatment at the hands of SERCO security guards who broke up the protest with brutal force.
70 women were locked in a corridor for up to eight hours without access to food, water, toilet or medical care. Many collapsed and about 20, who tried to climb out of the windows, were beaten up and taken into isolation cells. Four of the women, singled out as “ringleaders”, were transferred to Holloway prison in London and held there for months without being charged with any offence or brought before a judge.
In July 2010, two detainees in Colnbrook, which is also run by SERCO, were found dead in their cells. Around the same time, a leaked memo by SERCO revealed that the company had dismissed similar incidents in Australia, instead accusing detainees of “creating a self-harm culture” and using it as a “bargaining tool”.
A similar mass hunger strike in Yarl's Wood in June 2009 was also met with violent assaults on detainees by SERCO security guards. Testimonies by detainees, many of whom had fled torture, rape and destitution, revealed that racial, psychological and physical abuse had been inflicted on them by SERCO staff.
Currently, women detained at Yarl's Wood are reportedly being paid 50pence an hour to do menial tasks, which is clearly an exploitation of this captive labour force.
SERCO’s offer, through its Senior Partnership Manager; Claire Michelotti, to attend Refugee Week celebrations in Manchester as part of its stakeholder engagement activities is a cynical manoeuvre. The presence of SERCO at this event will horrify and further traumatise any refugee who has gone through the inhumane treatment unleashed by the company.
Putting on a friendly face deceives no one. 10 UGLY FACTS ABOUT SERCO 1
) Serco runs detainee escort services and electronically tags
people seeking asylum. 2)
Serco run Yarlswood detention centre in Bedfordshire and the Colnbrook detention centre near Heathrow Airport. 3)
Serco has been the subject of many claims of abuse and assault by people seeking asylum being held in their detention centres. 4)
Testimonies by detainees, many of whom had fled torture, rape and destitution, have revealed that racial, psychological and physical abuse
had been inflicted on them by Serco staff. 5)
Women detained at Yarl'swood detention centre are reportedly being paid 50pence an hour to do menial tasks, which is clearly exploitation of a captive labour force. 6) Serco dismissed the death of two people
in their detention centres in Australia, accusing detainees of “creating a self-harm culture” and using it as a “bargaining tool” . 7)
Serco is also taking over the management of an increasing number of public services in the UK, such as health centres and welfare programmes, where it is accused of prioritising profit over quality of service
Serco is setting ridiculous timescales for the transition phase of their new housing contract: 10 days for single people and 14 days for families. 9)
Serco claim to have a non-eviction policy but mobilisation of their contract in Scotland has already led to the proposed eviction into destitution
of 83 people. 10)
Serco were awarded this contract by the UKBA without accurate and up to date information
about their service user group in Manchester.
Act now to stop Serco! Join Manchester’s delegation to Glasgow at the All Scotland demonstration on Saturday 9th June 2012 12pm. Contact Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees via firstname.lastname@example.org
or 07870 286 632
- Demonstration supported by STUC.