Inhumane conditions at detention facility
New secret video footage of shocking conditions inside Harmondsworth immigration detention centre has been released by campaign group Corporate Watch.
The videos revealed:
- Home Office staff admitting that conditions in Harmondsworth were “shit”, and that detainees were not allowed cameras to photograph inside the centre because the government “don't want the bad publicity that would entail”.
- A guard saying that the new management had “fucked this place up”, making staff work more shifts and get less rest. “It's just gonna break. There's only so much people can take”, the guard warned.
- A senior manager at Harmondsworth telling detainees that they would be locked inside their cells for two hours longer at night as part of the company's new contract.
- Detainees living in unhygienic conditions with pigeons flying around inside, overflowing drains, rotting food in the kitchen and bed bugs in their cells.
- A detainee suffering injuries from what appear to be epileptic fits.
- Guards selling counterfeit clothes to detainees that had been confiscated at customs by the UK Border Force.
The footage had been filmed by a detainee at the centre over a number of months.
The outsourcing company Mitie won the multi-million pound contract to run the centre in September 2014 was heavily criticised for their part in the problems.
According to Corporate Watch: “The contract, worth £180m over eight years, involves Mitie merging the 615-bed Harmondsworth facility with the adjacent Colnbrook detention centre. This will create a 'super-size' detention centre, with capacity for 1000 detainees, making it the largest in Europe.”
Corporate Watch also reported that a “very depressed” detainee claimed that a week after this incident he set fire to his cell, in view of a guard who did not stop him, and was later not permitted to be taken away in an ambulance and treated for smoke inhalation.
In October 2013 at another detention centre run by the company, Campsfield, two people were reported to have been hospitalised and 180 people evacuated as a result of a fire that had spread quickly because of a lack of sprinklers. Corporate Watch say that the Fire Brigade had told the Home Office to install these in 2008.
Campaigners also so that prior to Mitie winning the contract, the centre had been run by the American company Geo Group. During this time, as a result of six deaths, it was “the most deadly place for migrants to be detained in the UK”. Many of Mitie's senior managers were said to have worked for Geo Group.
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