Thanks to another excellent article from John Grayson, the true nature of G4S and United Property Management is getting much needed exposure. Despite many promises of not moving school-age children until the summer holidays and keeping to established standards of housing provision, G4S' subcontractor United Property Management have already attempted to move a young asylum seeker and her 12 week old baby to a shockingly substandard flat in Doncaster. Unfortunately, it is not as if we hadn't been expecting something exactly like this to happen.
Campaigning groups are all too aware of United Property Management's notoriously bad record at providing suitable accommodation for asylum seekers. According to support agencies in Bradford, 35 people have already been removed from the city, yet their destinations are unknown. Dispersed miles away from their established networks of support, asylum seekers can simply fall off the radar and lose the crucial help they need.
Thanks to a loud campaign from activists in Sheffield and Bradford, the UKBA were forced to visit the flat in Doncaster and consequently declared the flat "contractually non-compliant" and "not suitable in its present state for mothers and babies." Whilst they claim to have ordered UPM to relocate the family, they still remain in the flat - with no cooker, table or chair - and 40 miles from what they used to call home.
In the words of John Grayson, "This is the new world of asylum seeker housing controlled by G4S, the worlds biggest security company." Fundamentally, this is the new world of asylum seeker housing controlled solely by financial markets, not critical service provision for those fleeing persecution.
For the full text of John Grayson's article, see OpenDemocracy.
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.