Serco prison guards accused of sexual assault
The Guardian have reported that a key witness in an ongoing investigation to claims of sexual assault by prison guards at a Serco run detention centre was deported before she could give evidence.
Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal centre, situated on the outskirts of Clapha, is managed, operated and maintained by Serco Ltd.
In August 2013 Bedfordshire Police launched an investigation after a witness, Sirah Jeng, claimed that she was subjected to inappropriate sexual behaviour by several guards at the prison.
In November 2013 Jeng was scheduled to have a police interview. She went to Dallas Court, Manchester's immigration reporting centre for asylum seekers, where she was detained and taken to Yarl's Wood. She was given five days' notice of deportation, the minimum period required, and informed she was to be sent back to the Gambia.
Jeng is married to a British Citizen and said to have lived in the UK for 12 years, and yet the Guardian stated that attempts were made to deport Jeng within days of her informing Yarl's Wood's management of the incidents.
Sirah Jeng was thought to be the only witness to an alleged case of sexual misconduct at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre and was therefore crucial to an ongoing investigation by Bedfordshire police into abuse allegations at Britain's largest immigration removal centre for women.
Campaigners accuse the Home Office of attempting to "silence" Jeng by removing her from the UK before she could be questioned by officers. Anthony Gard from Movement for Justice commented “...A system that abuses women's human rights and dignity as Yarl's Wood does inevitably leads to sexual abuse. When the UK Border Agency interferes with a police inquiry to get a witness out of the country it's a sign of their desperation and the impact the Yarl's Wood women and their allies is having; it means we can defeat the cover-up."
No update on Jeng's whereabouts could be found at the time of writing.
Three Serco staff have been dismissed over similar allegations, lawyer, Harriet Wistrich, believes amount to misconduct in public office.
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