This week, a friend told me about a BBC Panorama documentry entitled ‘Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets.’ You can find the link to the episode here, or a nice summary of the documentry has been produced by BBC news here.
The documentry was about an immigration detention centre called ‘Brook House’ in west Sussex. The centre is run by controversial security company G4S, who have been selected to handle the centre by the home office.
The documentry followed Callum Tulley, an employee of the centre, who had become an undercover reporter for the BBC after witnessing the terrible realities of Brook House. The detention centre was being used to lock up detainees for years, without knowledge of when they would be released, or deported. People who were simply in this country illegally were being kept in the same place as serious criminals and the results are dangerous. Callum witnessed suicide attempts, abusive staff and a failing system.
You can’t lock people up, not tell them when they are going to be released, keep them in the same location as dangerous ex prisoners and expect their mental health to stay in tact. You also can’t expect staff to react well and be able to cope with the actions of detainees who are not behaving in a normal manner. From what I saw of the documentry, it did not seem that staff were correctly trained or monitored, in how to deal correctly with the detainees.
Obviously from a moral perpsective, the abusive staff are at fault here. But so are G4S for allowing this behaviour to continue. From a moral and legal perspective, the home office are obviously the ones who must take responsibility for this. How can they employ a company such as G4S, who have a huge list of contraversial behaviour in their past, to look after these people. In the documentary these inmates are treated worse than animals at times. They are seen as inhuman by staff. The way they are treated breaches almost every article within the universal declaration. There was one section of the documentry where one of the security guards forcefully presses his fingers into the neck of one of the inmates, almost choking him. It could be argued that that one act alone breaks article 1, 2, 3 & 5 in that one simple act.
The documentry was filmed back in september, so I did some research on the Business and Human Rights resource centre to see what has happened as a result of the documetary. I found this article.
Thankfully, legal action has launched against the UK government, and it has been recognised that they take responsibility for the actions taken place in Brook House. Even though the abuse was commited by individuals working for G4S, these actions were just a symptom of the wider issues with the current system in place.