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, 31 July 2012

G4S: Olympic Chaos, Asylum Housing Chaos: A SYMAAG Statement

Private security army G4S have been in the news a lot recently. And not just because they are being paid £135 million of public money to house asylum seekers in Yorkshire, despite their record of abuse and racism towards them (for example, see here or here or here or here).

Most spectacularly, the world’s biggest security army have, of course, failed to provide security at the Olympic games (this time they were paid £284 million of public money). In response, G4S are now trying to recruit a new public relations manager.

An emergency bulletin from SYMAAG notog4s

As most of you will know we in the notog4s campaign have tended to assume that the UKBA /G4S undertakings and official statements have meant that evictions and movements of single people and families would, for the majority, mean movements, at worst, within the broad region of Yorkshire and the Humber.

The latest official UKBA Transition bulletin makes it abundantly clear that the claims we made early on in the campaign that in South and West Yorkshire in particular there simply was not a market in ‘decent’ PRS (Public Rented Sector) housing for G4S to exploit was absolutely correct.

Target Housing off target

One family of two adults and a one year old were moved on Tuesday 24th July 100 miles from Sheffield to Stockton onTees. The UKBA Transition Bulletin openly threatens more families with such a move.

This case is even more significant because it was from an existing private landlord property, although the new G4S contractor in Sheffield, Target Housing claim to have accommodation available for families – so why have the family been sent 100 miles away from contacts and support?

In Barnsley asylum seeker families have been warned by the outgoing asylum team of moves possibly to Hull and Newcastle. One family interviewed this week ,of grandparents, parents and school age children,  were given this warning and told they would probably have to move their household possessions in two bags each.

Live Management, the G4S contractor in Barnsley is, we understand, considering acquiring unsuitable properties which they propose to use on a ‘temporary’ basis until they can find contract compliant ones.

The Return of Angel Lodge

The dreaded Angel Lodge inWakefield, purchased from Angel Housing, has emerged as the new Yorkshire IA centre from September. SYMAAG executive members have horrific memories of actually staying in this dreadful accommodation, oppositeWakefieldhigh security prison. We are campaigning against this decision.

This chaos in UKBA and G4S also indicates that our campaigning (removing UPM and now mobilising against Target) has deepened the crisis for the UKBA and G4S. The ‘soft’ approach of Andrew Gray has now been replaced by the asylum market business approach of Jules Bickers, already deeply unpopular with voluntary sector asylum organisations in the regions he has worked in.

This is yet another indication that we were right to claim that g4s had no experience of asylum housing and that their failures under the contract would constantly punish asylum seeker single people and families who are simply housed awaiting the outcome of asylum claims.

Moreover our fears about the contract fundamentally challenging the basic human rights of families, children and vulnerable asylum seekers seem also to be proving unfortunately to be correct

We have to challenge the UKBA now to cancel the contract with UKBA and extend the target contracts with local authorities and transfer housing associations inYorkshire.

Chaos on the Olympics contract now chaos on the asylum housing contract

G4s are demonstrating exactly the same failings exposed in the Olympics contracts, as one MP put it: ‘their aspirations run far ahead of their abilities’

Their chaotic and incompetent management structures are even more exposed in the asylum housing field – after all in the Olympics contract they were in their key business of events security.

Their incompetence in a field they know nothing about -  housing – is much more serious – here they are embarking on a contract which they know will threaten the rights and well being of up to a thousand vulnerable asylum seekers in Yorkshire, whom we should be welcoming to our region, not punishing and threatening them, using tax payers money – our money.

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