G4S is the UK's biggest private security company, with its government contracts alone worth over £600 million. Responsible for security services, managing detention centres, prisons, and 675 court and police station holding cells, G4S have also just been granted the £100 million contract for providing 10,000 security guards for the upcoming olympics.

Whilst G4S still seem to be government favourites, their record is far from spotless. The firm lost their previous 'forcible deportation' contract last September after receiving 773 complaints of abuse – both verbal and physical. The final straw came with the death of Jimmy Mubenga in October 2010, an Angolan asylum seeker who died as a result of his forced deportation by G4S guards. Two of the guards are on bail facing criminal charges, whilst G4S is still waiting to hear whether they are to face corporate manslaughter charges.

Now, asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside are expected to accept this multi-national, money-hungry, security company as their landlords.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

First they came for the asylum seeker...

Again, we have to thank Jon Grayson for another brilliant article on the Institute for Race Relations' website. Published just before G4S won the government contracts for the provision of asylum seekers' social housing in Yorkshire and Humberside, Grayson puts the "asylum market" (G4S' words, not mine) in the important context of wider privatisation in the UK. 

Below is a short extract from Grayson's article:

"The UK is amongst the most intensively covered by private security with one private guard to every 170 people compared with one police employee to every 382 citizens -figures comparable to Hungary and Serbia. Germany on the other hand has much lighter private security with one private guard for every 484 citizens and one police employee for every 326 citizens. The private security business in the UK is worth £3.97 billion annually. Across Europe this is a very powerful lobby for privatising and marketising state functions. Just three companies have 46 per cent of the market in the UK. Just three companies have 56 per cent of the market across the EU. Published data from the EU does not directly name them but itwould be strange indeed if G4S and SERCO were not amongst them."

Please take a moment to read the whole article here.

According to Grayson, policies that affect asylum seekers have continually been used as trial-runs for wider policy-making. The government's obsession with making 'guinea pigs' out of asylum seekers is testament to the extent to which they have been dehumanised, demonised and deconstructed in the media. It seems like they've created a perfect scapegoat; with real lives and experiences obscured an obscene caricature, the asylum seeker is forced to be both invisible and grossly overexposed. When an individual is so heavily obstructed by layers of institutionalised prejudice and preconceptions, it is little wonder that much of the inflammatory press and political coverage goes unquestioned and almost unnoticed.

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