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Acacia Prison, Wooroloo, Australia
May 11, 2017 bunburymail.com.au
Acacia Prison incident not result of 'short-staffing
Private prison operator Serco has rejected claims its Acacia prison is short-staffed after a WA union said the corporation had failed to address "rising tensions" inside the facility. An incident occurred in the medium security prison where two officers were assaulted by inmates on Friday. The Western Australian Prison Officers Union (WAPOU) said the facility had been about 17 staff short on the day of the incident, and the incident was a result of poor staffing levels. "Acacia is full and the staff are stretched," WAPOU secretary John Welch said. "The tension and pressure in the prison is being felt by members, who are concerned that it could escalate. "Prison staff are consistently run off their feet and working under pressure because the prison is working at maximum capacity." The Acacia medium security facility is currently run by the private security firm Serco; a company also responsible for court security and non-clinical services at Fiona Stanley Hospital in WA. As of January 2017, 1513 offenders were kept at the facility. This prison population means it is currently the largest facility in WA. A Serco spokesman said the concerns raised by the WAPOU were not justified, and the incident was a one-off. "The safety and security of staff and the men in our care is a priority at Acacia Prison," he said. "This isolated incident was handled extremely well by our staff. Unfortunately two staff were injured and we are working closely with them to provide support and care. "The prison "temperature" is measured daily and has not seen any specific increase in tensions over the past weeks." In WA, both public and private corrective services operate on a "dynamic" offender-to-staff ratio, and local agreements between the Department of Corrective Service and private facilities allow operating regimes to adapt in order to ensure "safe and secure" operation. A Department of Corrective Services spokesman said the department keeps a close eye on all prison facilities to ensure they meet staffing agreements. "The Department of Corrective Services has a rigorous contract and performance monitoring system to manage privately operated prisons," he said. "The performance of private operators is monitored daily and they can be abated for not meeting contractual obligations." However Mr Welch said Serco's perceived "low staffing levels" continued to be used as a means to justify the claim private prisons were cheaper to run than the public sector. "In the private sector, we have grave concerns that the lower staffing levels impact not only prison officers' and prisoner safety, but it also impacts on prison officers' ability to have positive interactions with prisoners which are necessary to maintain trust and stability within the prison," he said. "The more stressed and busy the staff are, the more it impacts on the quality of what's delivered. We're not suggesting Acacia doesn't deliver some good outcomes for prisoners, but staff are being affected by the stress of always operating at maximum capacity, and so are prisoners." But Serco denied the Acacia facility was currently short-staffed. "There is no single officer-to-prisoner ratio as Acacia runs a dynamic security model with staffing to meet the needs of the cohort and facility on a daily basis. It is not short-staffed," a spokesman said. Serco referenced the Department of Corrective Services 2015/2016 annual report in order to reject claims there had been more recorded problems in its private facility in comparison to other state-run prisons. "The union claims are not borne out in fact. Over the past 12 months the rate of staff assaults from prisoners at Acacia is 1.35 per 100 prisoners. "In the 2015/16 year the level of assaults in WA public prisons was 1.5 per 100 prisoners." In a December 2016 report, the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan outlined a number of overcrowding issues with the Acacia facility. It was found that only 536 beds and cells at the facility met the Australasian Standard Guidelines, despite a population of 1468 prisoners. Acacia is still crowded in many units through double-bunking, despite a significant expansion made in 2014 Access to the oval and gymnasium was further restricted since the expansion, especially for protection prisoners, although efforts are being made to install more unit based activities Dental and mental health services proved insufficient for the population. The detention unit was not expanded, affecting punishment and other regimes. Some other services are insufficiently resourced for the population, including the Aboriginal Visitors Scheme and Outcare (which has the re-entry contract). However overall, the report also said Serco continued to fulfil its obligation to the State Government. "Serco do have a very strong sense of what is required and a proven capacity for innovation. Importantly, they have also demonstrated a strong professional commitment to the prison that has certainly not been driven by profit alone," Mr Morgan said.

January 15, 2010 West Australian
Confiscated contraband which could include weapons, drugs and pornography is missing inside WA's biggest men's jail, prompting an internal investigation into the security breach. The Department of Corrective Services confirmed the contraband was found to be missing at privately-run Acacia Prison last week and that some had not been recovered. Corrective Services security director Simon Kincart said the department was confident the contraband, which was taken from a storage cabinet, would be found soon. The department refused to say what the contraband was and would not answer questions about whether prisoners or staff were suspects or whether the cabinet had been left unlocked. "Internal investigations are continuing and I'm not prepared to make any further comment which may risk compromising prison operations," Mr Kincart said. Shadow corrective services minister Paul Papalia said the incident was a serious security breach and highlighted the pressures from chronic overcrowding in WA jails. Corrective Services Minister Christian Porter said he was aware of the situation at Acacia and the department was investigating the matter. Serco Australia, which runs the jail, said it had nothing to add to the department's statement.

December 29, 2009 The Western Australian
A violent prisoner who assaulted four jail staff and was involved in a dozen other aggressive outbursts was allowed to stay in the general medium-security prison population, leaked emails from Acacia Prison reveal. The confidential emails from concerned workers to management claimed staff shortages were partly to blame for the unsafe working environment. The emails, obtained by  "The West Australian", said management should have put the violent prisoner on a close supervision order or under a specialist management regime. The staff indicated in some of the emails, written between September and this month, that individualised attention was increasingly difficult as staff were struggling with heavy workloads at the overcrowded jail. There is one less staff member now compared with when the prison had 150 fewer inmates. The staff said there had been 22 staff recruits since the additional inmates, but 23 had left or were on long-term leave. The emails said the violent prisoner's 16 aggressive incidents included him groping the jail's female chaplain. "We are all aware that we work in a prison, but allowing one prisoner to perpetrate four assaults in six months and still stay medium security needs to be addressed," a worker wrote. The staff claim that managers from Serco Australia, which could not be contacted yesterday, told them they wanted to keep the prisoner in the mainstream jail population to "normalise" him before he was moved to a country facility. Another guard said in an email that a lone female guard had to supervise 150 inmates during outdoor activity. The guard was concerned at the big number of prisoners and feared for her safety because the group included a prisoner who had continually threatened to rape and kill her. "Incidents of a threatening/confronting nature have resulted in staff securing themselves rather than controlling situations," the guard wrote. "Recent incidents reflect the sentiment of prisoners who are fully aware of the staff's lack of ability to contain the prisoners here in an emergency situation." Shadow corrective services minister Paul Papalia said it was important to discuss the problems because Serco Australia was likely to be considered for new jail contracts. Mr Papalia said staff shortages meant the prison was not achieving the number of organised activities required under its contract. The Community and Public Sector Union said there were continuing concerns about staff safety as prison populations increased, causing tensions in sleeping quarters and in places such as the kitchen and gym. Attorney-General Christian Porter said yesterday it was difficult to verify the accuracy of the staff claims but said: "I have asked the Department of Corrective Services to check each of these allegations thoroughly to see if they can be verified."

Ashfield Prison, Pucklechurch, UK
February 16, 2012 The Guardian
A huge increase in the use of force to restrain teenage boys at a privately run young offender institution has been sharply criticised by the chief inspector of prisons. Nick Hardwick says the nine-fold rise in the use of force in the past year at the Serco-run Ashfield young offender institution from an average of 17 times a month to 150 times a month is "extremely high". The chief inspector has warned the private prison managers at Ashfield, near Bristol, that force must only be used as a last resort where there is an immediate risk to life or limb and not simply to obtain compliance with staff instructions. But when the prison inspectors went into Ashfield last October they found that more than 40% of the teenage inmates had been restrained and the most frequent reason given in five out of the six preceding months was "failure to obey staff instructions". Penal reformers said the disclosure has "chilling echoes" of the death of 15-year-old Gareth Myatt, who died while being restrained at a Northamptonshire young offender institution in 2004. The inspection report on Ashfield published on Friday also says there are serious problems with the late delivery of offenders from court despite a new private escort company, GeoAmey, with inmates delivered from court to Ashfield on one recent occasion between 11pm and 3am. All new arrivals were also strip-searched even though few items of contraband were ever found. The inspectors say this practice should stop.

August 10, 2011 Gazette
Police were also called to Ashfield Young Offenders’ Institution in Pucklechurch following reports of disturbances there. Prison officers dealt with a "small scale incident of disobedience" involving several inmates according to a statement from Serco, the company which runs the unit. A spokesman said: "Some minor damage has been caused, but the situation has been contained and the centre is secure," a Serco spokesman said. Avon Fire and Rescue Service were called out at 7.49pm but were stood down as they were not required to attend the scene.

August 20, 2009 Public Finance
Children detained in prisons and young offenders institutions are exposed to such ‘dire conditions’ that they are living in ‘modern day dungeons’, according to a hard-hitting report by the Howard League for Penal Reform. The report, published on August 17, paints a picture of ‘extraordinary squalor and institutional brutality’, with children regularly denied access to showers, toilets and outside exercise areas. Detained children are also often subject to strip searches by adult staff and many institutions fail properly to undertake required assessments, plans and reviews. Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, said: ‘We keep children smelly and dirty, idle and frightened, bored with education and cooped up in modern-day dungeons. And we expect them miraculously to pupate into responsible citizens. In reality, these young people leave prison more damaged and more dangerous than when they first went in. It is frankly shocking that we treat children in this way in the twenty-first century.’ At Ashfield prison in Gloucestershire, which is run by Serco, children were routinely given bags to urinate in instead of being allowed toilets on their journey to the prison, the report found. At Castington jail in Northumberland, children were allowed showers only twice a week and seven young people suffered broken wrists after being handcuffed. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Work is continuing on raising the quality of the services provided and developing new initiatives that will help further ensure positive outcomes for all the young people.’

April 13, 2009 This Is Bristol
The privately-run Ashfield Young Offenders Institution has more attacks than any other prison in the country, according to latest figures. The institution, near Pucklechurch, recorded more than 600 attacks on inmates in one year – the highest number of all the UK's 142 jails. Ashfield also had 126 assaults on prison officers, latest figures released by the National Offender Management Service show. But Serco, the firm which runs Ashfield, said the figures to July 2008 were high because it recorded every incident, including minor skirmishes, while other prisons only recorded the most serious attacks.

March 19, 2003
Premier's Ashfield "worst" prison in England and Wales. (News).  Plans to extend the role of private providers in prison services suffered a setback this month when a PFI jail for young offenders was described as the worst in the country.  An inspection found that conditions at Ashfield, near Bristol, were so bad that many inmates were frightened to leave their cells. Under pressure staff relied on inmates to act as "mini-officers" in the reception wing, and escort van drivers were used as officers on other wings.  Staff delegated responsibility to inmate orderlies to a worrying extent that went as far as "role reversal". Martin Narey, the director-general of the Prison Service, described privately run Ashfield as the worst prison in England and Wales "by some measure".  But he added: "The introduction of the private sector into the running of prisons has brought immense benefits. My best prison is probably a private-sector prison."  Ashfield is a 44m [pounds sterling] prison holding up to 400 sentenced young offenders aged between 15 and 21. It is run by Premier Custodial Services, a joint venture company owned 50% by Serco Ltd and 50% by Wackenhut Corrections (UK) Ltd, under a 25-year PFI contract.  The criticism came only days after the chancellor, Gordon Brown, said there should be "no principled objection" to further extending the private sector's role in prison management. The failings in Premier's operation of Ashfield were exposed in an inspection report by Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons. Describing her report as "depressing" she found that bullying was rife and that many inmates were "afraid to leave their cells".  A spot-check revealed that nearly half of the inmates remained in their cells during the day, and less than a quarter were in education. Owers said a central problem was the poor quality and low morale of staff because of the inadequate salaries paid by the company.  She also criticised the company for its unwillingness to do anything not in the contract. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 5 February, Narey said that Premier has lost around 2m [pounds sterling] in revenues so far.  It is the second time that Premier has been warned over its performance at Ashfield in recent years. In December 2001, the company was issued with an improvement notice for noncompliance with the PFI contract. At the time it had the most reported incidents of self-harm in the 15-17-year age group of any young offenders establishment in the UK.  Under the terms of Premier's contract--and normal under PFI deals in the prison sector--the banks that financed the prison's construction decide whether they choose another private operator or allow the public sector to take over.  Local Northavon MP Steve Webb (Liberal Democrat) said the private sector had failed to deliver on even the most basic aspects of the contract. "It is time that the Prison Service took the management of Ashfield back under its control," he said.

February 5, 2003
The reputation of the private sector as a manager of prisons suffered a blow yesterday when the government's Youth Justice Board announced it was withdrawing all sentenced juveniles from the first privately run young offenders' institution.  The board announced its phased withdrawal of 172 young offenders after the chief inspector of prisons published a scathing report on conditions at the Ashfield young offenders' institution near Bristol .  Anne Owers said Premier Prison Services, Ashfield's operator, failed to provide "the minimum requirements of a safe environment".  Describing her report as "probably the most depressing" she has issued in the 18 months she has been in post, Ms Owers found that bullying was not addressed and that many young people were "afraid to leave their cells". A spot-check during her inspection revealed that nearly half of the young inmates remained in their cells during the core day, and less than a quarter were in education.  There was no effective resettlement strategy.  Ms Owers said one of the main underlying problems at Ashfield was the poor quality and low morale of staff because of inadequate salaries paid by the operator.  Some officers at Ashfield had not undergone an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check, which is meant to provide better protection against pedophiles.  The Prison Officers' Association, which has always been opposed to privatisation, called for Ashfield to be taken immediately into public ownership.  Brian Caton, the union's general secretary, said Ashfield provided evidence of the "immorality of running private prisons with the emphasis on making profit rather than running a good service on behalf of society".  Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the "utterly damning report" raised questions as to why the Prison Service had allowed such a situation to develop in the first place.  (Social Affairs Correspondent)

Auckland Central Remand Prison
September 19, 2012 Radio New Zealand News
A first-year report card for the Mt Eden private prison has shown it continues to fall well short on several performance measures. British firm Serco has a $300 million contract with the Government to run the Auckland jail for at least six years. A report for the year to July shows only 42% of Serco's prisoners had a management plan in place, when 90% or more is the benchmark. The company only did a six-month review of those prisoner plans in 60% of cases, when 98% was the target. Just 52% of prisoners were released as per their release plan, when the required level was 98%, and Serco only followed its incident notification process three-quarters of the time. For its part, Serco says it is returning the lowest positive drug test rates of any prison in New Zealand, as well as maintaining low levels of self-harm and serious assaults. Results for the month of August show Serco is meeting 34 of its 37 performance targets, and achieving above 90% compliance with its contract. Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says it is an extremely tough contract, but Serco is making good progress and expects that to continue.

Auckland South Corrections Facility
Jun 24, 2016 odt.co.nz
Violent man freed after Serco blunder
A man facing a serious violence charge was mistakenly released from a Serco-run prison, the Weekend Herald has learned. The embattled private prison operator, which last year lost its contract to run Auckland's Mt Eden prison, has now been penalised more than $19,000 for the wrongful release. Joshua Calthorpe had been due to finish a prison sentence at Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri in April. But he was still to be dealt with on charges of aggravated robbery, blackmail and obtaining by deception, and should have been transferred from Auckland South Corrections Facility - operated by Serco - to a remand cell until that offending was dealt with. Instead he was released and spent two weeks at large before police returned him to custody, a source told the Weekend Herald. Calthorpe was yesterday sentenced to almost six years behind bars for the aggravated robbery and blackmail charges, and will also serve a shorter sentence concurrently for the obtaining by deception charges. He has previously spent time on the run from police in 2012 and last year, after failing to appear in court. A Serco New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed yesterday a prisoner had been "wrongly released" in April. "He had completed his sentence, but faced new charges and should have been detained on remand. We alerted the police as soon as the error became known and he was subsequently returned to custody." The spokeswoman said ensuring public safety was Serco's first priority. "We undertook a review of the event, to identify how it occurred and prevent such an incident occurring again." Justice Minister Judith Collins said Calthorpe's release was "not acceptable". She said Corrections had penalised SecureFuture - the consortium that owns the Serco-run Wiri prison - $19,581.59 for the wrongful release. Labour's Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said Serco needed to "get its act together".

BBC

May 23, 2010  The Daily Telegraph
Under the scheme, the publicly-funded broadcaster handed over footage to inmates who earn just £30 a week rather than members of its own 23,000 staff. Convicts at a privately run Category B jail, the second-highest security level, transferred tapes of old television shows to computer to save them for posterity. Senior staff in the BBC’s archives department visited the jail to watch the work in progress while meetings were held to discuss a landmark deal for the prisoners to digitise all 1million hours of programmes in its vaults. Fearful about the controversy the scheme could cause, the BBC never discussed it publicly and even the broadcasting union, Bectu, was unaware of it. Details were obtained by this newspaper through a Freedom of Information request that took more than four months rather than the usual 20 working days. The BBC insists that it has not given any money to Serco, the private jail operator, for the secret scheme nor signed any contracts, following the pilot project last year. However emails disclosed by the corporation show that it had shown considerable interest in the innovative project proposed by Serco, which runs four prisons in England. The BBC owns more than 1m hours of historic content, some of it decades old and at risk of being lost. It employs 66 people to look after it, at a cost of £5m a year, in its Information and Archives department. The corporation estimates it would take 10 years to safely copy all 100m items in its collection into longer-lasting digital formats. In December 2008 it was approached by Serco to become involved in Artemis – Achieving Rehabilitation Through Establishing a Media Ingest Service – a new project for prisoners to transfer archive documents to computers. Serco said it would provide “high-quality employment” and the chance of an NVQ qualification for inmates and HMP Lowdham Grange, a 628-capacity jail near Nottingham all of whose inmates are serving at least four years. The firm said this would mean it could provide a “stable work force”. The BBC was told it would prove a “very cost-effective” way of digitising its archive, and several meetings were organised to discuss plans. Managers agreed to hand over 20 hours of old videos, including episodes of Horizon and Earth Story, so prisoners could transfer them to computer and also add “meta-data” – typed detailed descriptions of the footage to help producers search through it more easily. The British Library and National Archives also provided material for the pilot project. In September last year, five members of BBC staff visited the jail, where a production workshop had been built, and were reported to be “pleased” with what they saw of the prisoners’ work and enthusiasm. However David Crocker, the driving force behind the scheme at Serco, admitted: “The major concern was around the potential negative newspaper headlines that the BBC may attract.” The company did discuss the scheme with one newspaper and one trade magazine but made no reference to the BBC’s involvement. In November, Mr Crocker told the BBC: “I can’t thank you enough for finding a project for us to kick-start Artemis.” He said his staff were drawing up “terms of reference” and would then “cost the project” of a full-scale digitisation of the BBC’s archive. However no deals have yet been signed. The BBC said: “The BBC did hold discussions with Serco about their planned project to digitise archives. As part of this the BBC, alongside other organisations, provided some material for Serco to use as part of its feasibility study for the project. “No payment was made to Serco as part of this, nor was any guarantee or promise of work entered into. “The BBC has no plans to work with Serco to digitise its programme archive and has not come to any agreements nor signed any contracts with any firms about utilising the prison workforce on any project.”

Borallon Correctional Centre, Queensland, Australia
August 15, 2011 9 News
Queensland's opposition has asked the auditor-general to review the state government's handling of a jail tender it has described as "dodgy". The government announced last month it would temporarily mothball Borallon prison in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, and transfer inmates to a new prison near Gatton due to be opened next year. Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed plans to convert the jail into immigration accommodation, however no final decision has yet been made. Security company Serco, which manages Borallon jail, has been awarded the contract to operate the new jail, Southern Queensland Correctional Centre at Spring Creek. The Liberal National Party (LNP) has labelled this a "dodgy deal". LNP corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the party had referred the matter to the auditor-general. The auditor-general's office has confirmed it received the LNP's request but as of Monday morning, it was yet to view the details. Mr Langbroek argues the government did not conduct a proper tendering process. "The way this secret deal between Serco, who currently run the prison at Borallon, and the state government has been handled raises many questions," he said. "Under the normal tendering for service process, the contract for service delivery at the new Gatton prison should have been advertised and put to the market to ensure the best value for money was achieved. "This matter deserves due consideration and that's why I have written to the auditor-general seeking advice on whether this deal is in fact legal and meets the state government's own rules and guidelines."

Broadmeadows Youth Detention Center, Australia
July 26, 2011 The Age
THREE teenage asylum seekers stitched their lips together at Broadmeadows youth detention centre this weekend, posting the photos on Facebook in a plea for help. Refugee Action Collective volunteer Daniella Olea, who has previously visited the teenagers, said they were aged between 16 and 18 and arrived alone from Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. They have been detained for about a year. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced in October that he intended to release all children from detention centres by June, but Ms Olea said about 50 teenagers under the age of 18 were still at Broadmeadows. Ms Olea, who has not been allowed to visit the boys recently, said they stitched their lips shut on Sunday afternoon. She said the youths were desperate. ''Some of them haven't heard from their case managers for months.'' A wall has been built at the centre, she said, so it was no longer possible to see greenery from its outdoor area. ''Before you could see the trees. Now they have just boarded all that up.'' The Department of Immigration confirmed the self-harm and said operator Serco had provided psychological support.

Christmas Island Detention Center, Christmas Island
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011

Nov 9, 2015 tvnz.co.nz
A Kiwi being held at the Christmas Island detention centre says "there are fires everywhere" and "no security", after riots erupted following the death of a detainee.

Speaking to ONE News this morning, Ricky Downs said guards have abandoned the centre.

"There are fires everywhere, holes in the wall and the canteen has been smashed to pieces," he said. "There's not security, there's no response team, there's not border control, no guards. They've freaked out and left." New Zealand nationals detained on Christmas Island's detention centre are being blamed for a riot which broke out at the centre this morning. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are 40 New Zealanders reportedly on Christmas Island. Christmas Island detention centre riot is ‘going off’. Guards have reportedly abandoned the controversial centre following mass riots. Guards have reportedly abandoned the controversial centre following mass riots. A detainee speaking to SBS made the accusations this morning claiming the rioters were mainly Kiwis and they had left the centre looking like a "disaster zone". The man, who wasn't named in the article, alleged guards from the private prison operator Serco had abandoned the centre. The medical centre had been destroyed along with the canteen and some offices, the man said. "The place is a disaster zone," he said. "People are destroying everything that can be destroyed." Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection has confirmed a "disturbance" happened at the Christmas Island detention centre. The Department wouldn't go into details about how the disturbance began or if detainees have sparked a riot at the detention centre as reported this morning. Earlier today, a woman close to a detainee said the riots began after prisoners learned of the death of a refugee who escaped the detention centre two days ago. The Kurdish-Iranian man in his 30s was found in bush land yesterday. ‘They freaked out and left’ – Christmas Island guards reportedly abandon detention centre 00:20 Kiwi detainee on Christmas Island Ricky Downs says a mass riot has broken out at the centre. Kiwi detainee on Christmas Island Ricky Downs says a mass riot has broken out at the centre. Source: ONE News ONE News also spoke with Labour MP Kelvin Davis this morning who says the island prison is in chaos. Kelvin Davis@NgatiBird Just got off the phone to detainees. They're scared they'll be shot. #freethe501s Christmas Island: "The guards have disappeared. We can't see them." The calm before the storm? #freethe501s Mr Davis says from what he is hearing, when prisoners questioned the death of an inmate who tried to escape the facility, one person was punched in the face by a guard sparking the riot. The Department says "its service providers are working together to resolve the situation". They say no injures have been reported and won't give any further comment on the situation.

Jul 13, 2014 The Sidney Morning Herald

A woman who is in hospital on Christmas Island after attempting suicide was returned to the offshore detention centre against the advice of mental-health professionals after being transferred for treatment in Australia. It's widespread and it's getting worse. Fairfax Media has been told the women was transferred to Perth earlier this year but discharged from hospital and returned to detention before being sent back to Christmas Island against the advice. It is believed the woman, who is not a mother, tried to take her own life this week and remains in Christmas Island hospital. Sources have told Fairfax Media there were several asylum seekers who continue to be held on Christmas Island despite advice that they be transferred to Australia for treatment for mental illnesses. ''This is not manipulation [of the system],'' a source said. ''It's widespread and it's getting worse.'' It comes as Christmas Island shire president Gordon Thompson said the number of women on suicide watch had increased from 11 on Wednesday, to 14 on Thursday. ''They are [on] constant watch,'' he said. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison this week denied Fairfax Media reports that up to nine women had attempted suicide, saying multiple suicide attempts by women on Christmas Island were ''not correct''. Mr Morrison has refused to provide information on self harm in detention, citing ''government commentary on such issues takes into account privacy and the impact public commentary may have in encouraging such behaviour''. On Wednesday, Fairfax Media obtained advice from the Department of Immigration showing that, following a meeting on Christmas Island this week, there were ''seven individuals who made threats of self harm, four have actually self-harmed and one woman attempted suicide''. But an International Health and Medical Service employee said the categories of ''self harm and ''attempted suicide'' were often hard to differentiate. ''A self harm could be a suicide attempt,'' the worker said. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists said it was ''concerned but not surprised'' to hear of reports that women on Christmas Island were harming themselves. ''The college is extremely concerned that people are finding themselves in such a desperate situation that they are considering such measures as attempting suicide,'' said the president, Dr Murray Patton. The government's leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, described the incidents on Monday night as ''minor self harm''. But Greens Senator and immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said that response was ''callous and insincere''. ''Suicide attempts are not 'minor incidents' as so ignorantly described by the Abbott government,'' she said. ''The Department of Immigration's own contract with Serco defines attempted serious self harm as a critical incident.''


The Sidney Morning Herald,  November 16, 2013

Staff at Australia's immigration detention centres have undergone retraining after a worker was sacked for having a sexual relationship with a detainee. Managers of the Christmas Island centre, British-owned company Serco, have confirmed that a male employee was dismissed in October following an investigation. ''We take a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate relationships and any sexual contact is completely unacceptable,'' Serco spokesman Paul Shaw said in a statement. The matter has been reported to police and the Immigration Department. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told ABC TV the conduct was ''appalling and completely unacceptable'' and that the department would seek further information from Serco. The company has also revealed that three other Christmas Island staff, members of an emergency response team, have been reassigned after breaking protocol by drinking alcohol. ''During the periods when they are not at work but on-call, they must remain ready for duty at all times,'' Mr Shaw said of the stringent physical requirements demanded of team members. ''This means that they are not permitted to consume any alcohol.'' News of dissent among staff at the Christmas Island facility comes as the Australian government faces criticism for operations in its detention centre network, including the separation of an asylum-seeker woman and her newborn baby. Refugee advocate Pamela Curr was quick to speak out against the latest misconduct. ''A sexual relationship between a guard and a detainee is like a relationship between a student and a teacher, between a doctor and a patient. The power relationship is such an imbalance it can never be acceptable, it is exploitative,'' she told the ABC. Serco said it had addressed the problems. ''After our investigation concluded in this matter, we held formal refresher training sessions for our staff across the immigration detention network, reinforcing the importance of professional boundaries and respect for the people in our care,'' Mr Shaw said.

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

November 30, 2011 ABC
The head of the company which runs Australia's detention centres has admitted that administration staff were told to act as security during the Christmas Island riots. Serco's chief executive officer David Campbell has been answering questions before a parliamentary committee in Perth. It is looking into Serco being awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to provide services at the city's new Fiona Stanley Hospital. Mr Campbell told the committee that administration staff formed a perimeter during the Christmas Island riots. He said they were told to act as observers. Outside the hearing, the union United Voice said Serco's administrative staff were dressed in the blue polo t-shirts normally worn by security guards and were put on the front lines. The union's Dave Kelly says staff were poorly treated. "That they dressed administrative staff up as security guards and put them on the front lines, I find that absolutely amazing," he said.

November 30, 2011 The Age
THE Immigration Department was warned severe overcrowding at the detention centre on Christmas Island would cause a serious incident five months before riots broke out there. That is the finding of an independent inquiry into the Christmas Island and Villawood riots, by former public servants Allan Hawke and Helen Williams. Released yesterday, the report said the failure of the department to brief Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on the warning until March 2011 was ''highly regrettable''. The report has described conditions on Christmas Island before the riots as ''severely compromised'' - with failing sewerage systems, a ''precarious'' supply of water and access to toilets and education under stress. Detainee numbers had leapt to 2530 on the island. Knowledge Consulting warned in October 2010 that safety was compromised, accommodation was unsuitable and detainees had no meaningful activities. A freeze on processing Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum claims a year earlier caused a backlog and ''significant impact on the detention network''. The inquiry found that adding to this explosive mix was an influx of middle-class Iranian asylum seekers ''who had higher expectations of service and lower tolerance for any perceived slowness in processing or inconsistency in decision-making or failure to achieve a positive result''. Riots on Christmas Island, sparked on March 11, caused $2.5 million in damages, while riots at Villawood in Sydney a month later cost $6 million. Serco, the private company that runs the detention network, was warned of the planned mass escape and riot on Christmas Island four days earlier, but a teleconference with the Immigration Department in Canberra dismissed an informant's warning. The report blamed both riots in part on the detention network's inability to manage a core group of angry asylum seekers who had been rejected. It said 80 of the 100 detainees identified as taking part in the Christmas Island riot had received initial rejections and were waiting for a review. Thirteen of the 19 charged had been rejected as refugees at the first interview. Of the nine detainees charged over the Villawood riot, all had received a negative primary decision. The report called for the contract with Serco to be revised to improve security and co-ordination with police.

September 16, 2011 The Australian
FIREFIGHTERS have repeatedly raised concerns with the government on their capacity to respond to emergencies at Christmas Island. The Australian understands concerns were expressed with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship about the ability of volunteer firefighters to enter violent and uncontrolled situations inside the centre. The concerns are understood to have been raised at least once before violent riots in March. Yesterday, a departmental spokesman rejected the suggestion concerns had been ignored. He said detention centre operator Serco was required to have appropriate contingency arrangements to deal with a range of scenarios, including fires. "Serco works with local emergency services in developing these arrangements, which are continually reviewed to address any concerns which may be raised," the spokesman said. The fire brigade, along with the island's ambulance service, relies solely on volunteers and was on standby over many nights during the riots, in which detainees set parts of compounds on fire. Problems with the capacity of Christmas Island's emergency services to cope with increasing demand - due to the detention centre and associated influx of workers - are expected to be highlighted in an upcoming socio-economic report on the impact of detention on the island. The report's draft findings were detailed to community members at a meeting last week, where it was revealed there were serious concerns about the capacity of the fire and ambulance services. Locals interviewed for the report also spoke of high levels of exhaustion among volunteers. The co-ordinator of the island's ambulance service, volunteer Barbara Copeland, said call-outs had increased from five for the whole of 2007 to 50 so far this year. She said 95 per cent of call-outs this year were related to the island's detention compounds and included responding to self-harm incidents and evacuations to the hospital or Perth. Ms Copeland said the island's transient nature made it difficult to maintain adequate numbers of volunteer workers. The SIEV-221 boat wreck last December, in which 50 asylum-seekers died, had led some volunteers to walk away because of burn-out.

September 7, 2011 ABC
A parliamentary committee has heard many of the Christmas Island detention centre staff have not had the necessary training to deal with detainees' high rates of self harm and attempted suicide. The committee, which is assessing the impact of mandatory detention, spent two days inspecting the facilities and talking to workers there. The committee's deputy chair, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says because of the island's remoteness and the stressful nature of the work, it is difficult to recruit staff with the mental health skills needed. "Many of the workers in the centres are getting on the job training yet they are dealing with very vulnerable people," she said. "We had one man attempt to hang himself while we were visiting the facility and of course that happens to be a daily occurrence." The committee will tour the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's far north near Derby, today. The joint select committee is visiting detention centres across Australia, assessing a range of issues relating to the cost, impact and effectiveness of mandatory detention. The group will also look at the role of government agencies and private contractors within the detention network, before making their recommendations to parliament. They are expected to hold talks with local hospital staff and workers from Serco which operates the Curtin facility.

September 6, 2011 The Australian
THE refugee lawyer who helped extract a multi-million-dollar payout for Cornelia Rau from the Howard government is preparing multiple civil lawsuits on behalf of asylum-seekers who claim they were assaulted and drugged on Christmas Island during mass escapes and rioting in March. George Newhouse will also ask West Australian police to investigate alleged assaults, sedations and wrongful detention of boatpeople as far back as July 2009 when Labor awarded a five-year contract to security firm Serco. Mr Newhouse told The Australian he was acting for detainees who had been isolated at Christmas Island's high-security "behaviour management unit" called Red Block, had their possessions taken from them and who believed sedatives had been put in their food without their knowledge. "I have been approached by a number of former detainees from Christmas Island who say that they were sedated without their consent and we are putting together a brief for the West Australian police," he said. Mr Newhouse intends to advertise in the Arabic and Farsi press for other detainees to come forward. The advertisement, entitled "A Message to All Former Immigration Detainees", states in part: "If you were assaulted, had your possessions taken from you, sedated without your consent and/or moved into restrictive custody, you may be entitled to pursue your legal rights and entitlements." The push comes six years after Ms Rau, an Australian resident, won a payout reported to be $2.6 million over her wrongful detention at Baxter detention centre. The treatment of Ms Rau, a psychiatric patient, sparked a government inquiry into the possible wrongful detention of more than 200 people. Mr Newhouse worked on that case and said yesterday he still had serious concerns about the use of force on immigration detainees, who were "obviously seriously mentally unwell". He said he regarded any sedation of anyone without their knowledge or consent as an assault. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship was not aware of any instance of detainees being sedated without their knowledge or consent. "The department requires medical intervention to occur with the person's consent within immigration detention facilities at all times. This includes sedation," a spokesman said. The Australian has been told at least two detainees allege they were assaulted and sedated on Christmas Island between March 13 and March 17 after being deemed ringleaders.

August 17, 2011 The Age
THE full extent of despair and unrest in Australia's immigration detention centres has been exposed, with documents showing 1507 detainees were hospitalised in the first six months of this year, including 72 psychiatric hospital admissions, and 213 treated for self-inflicted injuries. The documents, released to a parliamentary committee by the Department of Immigration, also show more than 700 detainees were treated for ''voluntary starvation''. And it emerged that police had been notified 264 times of possible criminal behaviour in detention centres. The figures were released as Australia's top immigration bureaucrat last night urged MPs to rethink mandatory detention of asylum seekers and asked whether the hardline policy actually deterred boat arrivals. In an extraordinary opening address to the inquiry last night, Andrew Metcalfe, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, urged a more flexible approach. The inquiry was instigated by the opposition and Greens, and has begun to lift the veil on the secretive private contractor, Serco, that runs Australia's detention centres. Hundreds of pages of data supplied to the inquiry by the department include the time and nature of every recorded incident inside the nation's 19 detention centres. However, Serco is refusing to state how many staff it employs at each centre, claiming this is sensitive. The department told last night's hearing that Serco was not required under its contract to meet any staff-to-detainee ratios. Mr Metcalfe said Serco was refusing to disclose its staffing ratios because it was concerned detainees would find out. Last night's hearing was also told that Serco had been fined every month in 2010-11 for failing to meet contract goals. Serco has reported 871 instances of inappropriate behaviour towards its staff, and 700 instances of inappropriate behaviour between detainees. There have been five substantiated complaints against staff - but no resulting dismissals. In June alone, there were 135 critical incidents across the network, covering multiple serious injuries, assaults, two escapes and self-harm. Christmas Island is particularly plagued by suicide attempts. There were 620 self-harm incidents there in the year to June, including 193 actual acts, 31 serious attempts and 476 threatened acts. The island's four detention centres were over capacity on 27 occasions. Hunger strikes were reported at most centres, and at least 17 cases of children starving themselves were noted in the past year. The surge in incidents began in mid-2010, coinciding with a rise in boat arrivals. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the data revealed the detention system had collapsed, with the government sitting ''in policy denial'' while centres filled. Greens senator Sarah Hanson Young said she wanted more details, including the daily cost of operating the network. Mr Metcalfe said rising unrest, self-harm and suicide were unfortunate and sad, but ''defy simple solutions''.

July 28, 2011 Big Pond News
An inquiry into the mental health of those in Aust's immigration detention centres has begun. The commonwealth ombudsman has launched an inquiry into suicide and self-harm in Australia's immigration detention centres. Allan Asher witnessed the deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers when he visited Christmas Island in June. In the week the ombudsman visited the detention centre there were more than 30 incidents of self-harm by detainees there. "This reflects an upsurge in the number of incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide reported to IHMS (International Health and Medical Services) across all immigration detention facilities," Mr Asher said on Thursday. "My investigation will assess the extent of this tragic problem." It would examine the root causes, and consider practical steps that the department and its service providers Serco and IHMS should take to identify and manage those at risk of suicide and self-harm. Mr Asher wants the investigation to give evidence-based, expert-endorsed advice on guidelines and protocols for reducing the number of suicide and self-harm incidents. The ombudsman hopes to release the results of his inquiry by the end of 2011.

July 22, 2011 The West Australian
EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE FROM THE ONLY NEWS TEAM ON THE GROUND: Asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island began rioting for the third night last night, only hours after Australian Federal Police reinforcements arrived, and amid increasing speculation the Federal Government has finalised an asylum swap deal with Malaysia. Fires were burning within the North West Point centre, including one on the roof of a building. Detainees could be clearly heard yelling in unison, but their words were indecipherable and many men could be seen pacing around the centre. A detainee from inside the centre told The West Australian that the men at the heart of the protest had raided the Green Two compound and put bags and plastic chairs on the roof and set fire to them. He said small fires had been lit inside parts of the centre. It is understood that Serco officers who worked yesterday's day shift were held back last night to help quell the protests. The Government is expected to announce a deal with Malaysia as early as Monday. Under a deal announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in May, Malaysia will take up to 800 asylum seekers arriving by boat, in return for Australia accepting 4000 processed refugees. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said today the Malaysia agreement was a bad deal. "I don't think it's going to stop the boats," Mr Abbott told the Nine Network. "It's now two-and-a-half months since the so-called Malaysia deal was announced and I think in that time we have had 10 boats and more than 500 people arrive." Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said yesterday the violence at the island's detention centre was inappropriate after 20 to 40 detainees caused major damage. He said mattresses and a temporary building were torched before Federal police moved in to quell the riots using tear gas and bean bag bullets. "This is way out of line," Mr Bowen said. He said rioters achieved nothing except risking jail. An Iraqi detainee in his late 40s described by phone yesterday his fear during the riots as asylum seekers vented anger at delays in getting visas. He said he had been in detention on the island more than a year and though not in the riots, he understood why some chose violent protests. A department spokeswoman said applications were assessed case by case and some took longer because they were more complex.

July 22, 2011 Australian
ASYLUM seekers at Christmas Island's detention centre lit fires and destroyed property for the third evening in a row last night. Tensions boiled over about 8.30pm local time, with estimates around 100 detainees were involved in the destruction. A mattress was reportedly set alight on the roof of one of the compounds and bins were also set on fire. The island's local fire brigade was called along with Australian Federal Police officers. The AFP fired tear gas and bean bag bullets inside the detention centre during protests on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Last night a detainee from inside the centre told The Australian Online, "The situation here is very bad.'' "There's no security, it's not safe. Many people make trouble, make doors smash,'' the man who did not want to be named said. "At night the policemen have tear gas.'' The stateless asylum seeker said around 600 men had had their claims for asylum rejected and this had created frustration. "They have been here a long time and got rejected without reason ... They can't stay in detention like animals waiting, waiting with no justice.'' He said he wanted Australians to examine the reasons why the detainees were rioting and not simply ask who had participated. A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed last night that "a few small fires'' had been lit. "The department can confirm that there is an incident underway,'' he said. "Our focus currently and that of the detention centre services provider is on doing what we can to bring the situation under control with the assistance of the AFP and local fire service,'' he said. The recent protests have seen detention centre "guards'' with just weeks of training being called upon to handcuff Christmas Island's most volatile detainees and fit them with soft helmets before locking them in isolation cells known as Red Block.

July 13, 2011 The Australian
THE company running Australia's immigration detention centres is incurring unsustainable fines from the Department of Immigration for breaches of its $712 million contract, according to a leaked email from Serco's senior operations manager at the Christmas Island detention centre. An escape on July 1 -- about three months after Australian Federal Police were sent to bolster the security at the centre and insist that electric perimeter fences be switched on -- is the latest in a string of breaches that will cost Serco dearly. The company last week appointed a full-time security manager to prevent further escapes. Guards are now stationed on the perimeter of the centre under beach umbrellas on 12-hour shifts, complaining it is too hot and that shade falls on the other side of the fence for several hours each day. Serco's senior operations manager for the detention centre, Steve Southgate, addressed colleagues about continued breaches in an email last Monday. "We can no longer remain where we are," he said. "We are getting fined for things that should have been completed. We are getting fined for not paying attention to the detail. We are getting fined for not doing what we have said we will do. We need to change our culture to a proactive culture and get ourselves out of this reactive blame culture." Mr Southgate arrived on the island after mass breakouts, unrest and rioting in March that led to the AFP taking over the centre temporarily. Those incidents are likely to have resulted in substantial fines -- called abatements -- for Serco, though the firm's contract stipulates that fines are capped at 5 per cent of whatever the company gets paid that month for running the centre where the breaches occurred. The 5 per cent cap does not apply if the breaches are deemed "significant or continuous".

June 24, 2011 The West Australian
Security guards patrolling the Christmas Island detention centre are routinely given a knife specifically designed to cut down detainees who have tried to hang themselves. In a rare insight into the conditions security officers face on a daily basis, a former security guard at the centre told The West Australian his colleagues were turning to alcohol to block out the emotional turmoil of caring for detainees on the island. The guard said during induction he was introduced to the "Hoffman" knife and told: "Before a month is out, at least four of you guards are going to have to use this knife to cut someone down." "That just freaked me out. I went from being a run of the mill security guard to doing this," he said. He said that was one of the many reasons he had quit his job with MSS Security, despite being paid $120,000 a year. He said his departure from the island was also fuelled by "disgusting" accommodation, long shifts, a lack of training and racism some guards displayed towards detainees. Guards were drinking a lot of cheap alcohol to deal with the stress, with many calling in sick when "they hit the wall," he said. Christmas Island Workers Union secretary Kaye Bernard confirmed each guard was required to clip a Hoffman knife to their belt but said there were often not enough to go around. She said one guard had broken down in tears when he told her about having to cut down a detainee who tried to hang himself. A Serco spokesman said all staff in key accommodation areas at detention centres across the country would have access to a rescue knife, basic first aid equipment and a radio. The guard was also upset his complaints to Serco, DIAC and MSS, about a another guard being racist towards refugees, had not been acted upon. But the Serco spokesman said an investigation found nothing to substantiate claims of racism.

June 10, 2011 The Age
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says calm has been restored at the Christmas Island Detention Centre and only two asylum seekers are persisting with a rooftop protest following an evening of riots on the island. Australian Federal Police officers used bean-bag bullets and capsicum spray were called in to quell a riot among 100 detainees last night. The federal police have confirmed the force was deployed at the North West Point detention centre after detainees began throwing projectiles at police and security guards. A federal police spokeswoman said the detainees had armed themselves with metal poles fashioned from sporting equipment and concrete. "During negotiations, some of the protesters began throwing projectiles at police and security guards. The AFP deployed less than lethal munitions, including chemical munitions, a bean-bag round and distraction devices, to restore order," the spokeswoman said. Police were called to the detention centre by the Immigration Department and Serco at 11pm yesterday. An Immigration Department spokeswoman said the disturbance involved two compounds of the facility, and did not involve all detainees at the centre.

June 3, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
A SAFETY order was issued to the federal government less than three weeks before riots broke out at the Villawood detention centre, warning that sections of the facility posed a serious safety and security risk. The Improvement Notice issued by Comcare, and tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, also warned the detention centre at the time could not cope with transfers of potentially violent asylum seekers from Christmas Island. It said Villawood had a "lower level" of health and safety and security. It also discovered broken and missing security cameras and found Serco staff did not have proper training to deal with asylum seekers. "There are likely to be significant risk to health and safety associated with the relocation of the Christmas Island detainees to the Villawood IDF," the April 1 report warned. The release of the report came as parliament yesterday voted to begin a joint inquiry into mandatory detention and the Villawood and Christmas Island riots. The Comcare document raised concerns specifically about the transfer of 10 asylum seekers involved in Christmas Island riots to Villawood. But the government claimed that none of the detainees involved in the Christmas Island riots was involved in the riot at Villawood. Those transferred to Villawood were under lock and key at the western Sydney facility's high security Blaxland compound when the riot broke out in a neighbouring compound. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's spokesman last night confirmed the Minister was aware of the issues raised by Comcare at the time. "The government only approved the transfer of the clients from Christmas Island after evidence was provided to Comcare that appropriate risk management measures were in place," he said. "These were in place by the allotted deadline, before the transfer occurred and well before the incidents at Villawood." Comcare had ordered the department to take action within three days to begin training staff and to repair the security and the safety breaches. Comcare deputy CEO Steve Kibble this week said that a follow-up investigation on May 24 found it was "generally" satisfied with the Immigration Department's response to fixing the problems. But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that the report should have been a "flashing light" for the government. "(The government) were warned not to proceed but they went ahead anyway," Mr Morrison said. "What disturbs me about this is that a department was forced to cut corners as pressure continued to mount from the government's failed border protection policies. It also shows the significant pressure the network was already under prior to the riots."

June 2, 2011 ABC News
In a series of explosive allegations, two former employees of the private security firm which has a $756 million contract with the Federal Government claim fines for contract breaches at detention centres are being pushed to the side "for political reasons". The employees have also detailed lax security practices at the Christmas Island detention centre. The Government fines the security firm, Serco, for any breach of its contract, which can include detainee escapes, riots, or untimely transport escorts. But despite an extensive audit system, the Christmas Island insiders claim the financial penalties, or abatements, are not always recouped by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). "The monthly abatements ran into the many hundreds of thousands of dollars [on Christmas Island] but when it would reach up into the cluster management or regional manager level, they would sort it out with DIAC and nothing would ever come to pass,'' a former Serco manager told ABC's Online Investigative Unit. "The view among senior management on the ground, who were worried about it, was that they were sweeping it under the table, probably for political reasons, as they probably didn't want it getting around how bad the situation was there. "When it got really bad, the amount mentioned that Serco were going to be abated [on Christmas Island] was $1.5 million, and always at the end of the month after they had the final abatement meeting, but it would just be pushed off to the side. "I'm sure there's a lot at stake to make it look like Serco is coping or just coping but it is just wrong for Australian taxpayers that these people are gilding the lily." In response to the allegations, a DIAC spokesperson said the abatements could not fall through the cracks. "The Department of Immigration and Citizenship follows up all breaches at all immigration detention facilities and these are taken very seriously." DIAC serves abatements against Serco once a month for unfulfilled contractual obligations yet these are "commercial in confidence" and not publicly disclosed. Serco did not return calls to the ABC prior to publication. Waste of money -- One former Serco employee alleges a range of contractual obligations were not being met on Christmas Island but that DIAC was unaware. "The wastage of money and lack of accountability was concerning. [Serco] staff could put down extra hours and they wouldn't even know where staff were - people claiming wages and they weren't even on the island," the former employee said. The allegations coincide with calls by the Opposition for a parliamentary inquiry into Australia's immigration detention system. The call is backed by the Greens and by independent MP Andrew Wilkie. The Greens also want a broader inquiry into mandatory detention and requested that DIAC table Serco abatements in last week's Senate estimates hearing. "You wouldn't have to be too clever to find a whole host of financial and human resource mismanagement, it would be plain to see," the former Serco manager said. "They would just have to ask for the records of the contract management meetings. They are all minuted and recorded, pages and pages of evidence." It is understood that acts of non-compliance such as the escapes, riots and fires at Christmas Island in mid-March incur some of the highest penalties. "There were the times when there were the big escapes and the damages occurring," the whistleblower continued. "Certainly the figures raised at meetings that I attended, there was the potential to be abated well over $1 million. That's for one month." The other insider added: "You could be greeted by a security officer sitting and having a cigarette and that's when you walked in the gate. And I'd say, 'Well, aren't you going to search my bag?' It was just not up to scratch. "You were not supposed to take cameras into the property. I had a camera in my bag since day one. People are supposed to X-ray your bag coming and going. No. Not always. "There were a whole heap of people wandering outside the camps almost on a daily basis, at will. What they were saying is that these people had escaped because the fences weren't secure. "But what was occurring and it was common knowledge among the people there - is that there were people [detainees] who were just wandering in and out of the camps." In last week's Senate estimate hearings, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young drew attention to the lack of transparency of the contract, breaches and abatements. DIAC official Fiona Lynch-Magor responded: "The Serco contract provides significant capability for the Department to ensure that the contract is appropriately administered." "We certainly have abated Serco [in] the period of this contract on many occasions for their failure to deliver the contract but it is not recorded in a recordable manner, as in X number of breaches this financial year, because of the way the abatements work." The Serco whistleblower says a paper trail would not be hard to locate. "All somebody needs to say to DIAC is, we would like to see a copy of their minutes from the abatement meetings that are held every Thursday at approximately 2:00pm [on Christmas Island]."

May 26, 2011 ABC News
Two private security whistleblowers say it is only a matter of time before an under-qualified or under-resourced colleague is partly responsible for the death of a suicidal detainee on Christmas Island. Current and former employees of contractor Serco fear soaring asylum seeker self-harm rates, combined with staff who are stretched beyond their capacities, could soon prove fatal at the immigration detention centre. The ABC investigative unit has obtained confidential documents dated April 27, April 29, May 6 and May 11, 2011, detailing 50 incidents including suicidal intent among asylum seekers, attempted hangings, self-harm with intent, homicidal thoughts and self-mutilation. "Serco had protocols to follow in respect to suicide watch and keeping them [unstable detainees] in separate areas but that wasn't occurring at all,'' the former Serco employee said. "They [Serco] certainly didn't have enough people trained to do a specified job like monitoring people who were on suicide watch - they just weren't qualified to do that. "There was a whole recording system too where these things had to be logged, and they just weren't being recorded. "We just didn't have the people to do it." The revelations come as an Australian Human Rights Commission report on Sydney's Villawood detention centre detailed extensive problems of self-harm and depression among detainees. Serco said it was not policy to comment or divulge protocol for dealing with suicidal detainees. It is understood, however, that suicidal tendencies should be picked up and reported on each client's personal file. All self-harm clients are to be reported and accessed by psychiatric nurses. Clients on suicide watch are isolated and monitored by a dedicated staff member who signs off on inspections. In the most serious cases, detainees are taken to the local medical centre or hospital for treatment. The current Serco employee believes it is "a matter of time" until a tragedy occurs, and claims there have been 241 cases of attempted self-harm by detainees in Christmas Island immigration detention facilities in April. The ABC has been unable to verify this figure. Last week, ABC News Online reported allegations by detainees at Villawood detention centre in Sydney that an inadequate response from guards forced them to use a cigarette lighter to try to save the life of a man who had attempted suicide earlier this year. Detainees say they tried to burn through the rope Ahmed Al Akabi had used to take his own life. Serco declined to comment on the allegations but in a statement to the ABC following the report, said it ran a comprehensive staff training program that goes beyond its contractual obligations. "Serco is committed to doing everything we can to prevent those in our care from coming to harm," the statement said. "Our staff take this commitment extremely seriously and work hard to keep those in our care safe and secure." Protocol -- But the former Serco employee insists staff are not appropriately qualified, nor do they have a suitable guard-to-detainee ratio to always carry out recommended protocol. "To escort one person over from one camp to the medical centre was a whole logistics exercise in itself, especially on occasions when there might be only two officers to look after 600 or so clients in a camp," they said. "Sometimes they just didn't have the people available. "DIAC (the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) would say to us, 'well, that suicide person was reported at such and such time', there was a timeline - sometimes it would be hours, sometimes even days out of date - to escort them to the local hospital or the medical centre." "There was another time when [Serco] were putting people into an empty dining room where there was an officers' station and the officers would watch them through the glass. "The officers wanted to cover up the glass because they didn't want to be watching the inmates all the time or have the inmates watching them." The Opposition intends to introduce a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the nation's immigration detention centres.

May 25, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department says riots at the Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres are estimated to have caused about $9 million in damage. A number of buildings were destroyed during violent protests at both centres earlier this year. Department spokeswoman Fiona Lynch-Magor told a Senate hearing the company that runs the centres, Serco, will make an insurance claim for the damage. "We've made some early assessments of what we think those costs will be with our insurer," she said. "But Serco will be pursuing the insurance with their own insurer." The Immigration Department also says there were not enough federal police on Christmas Island to arrest asylum seekers who escaped from the detention centre during protests earlier this year. A large group of asylum seekers broke through the detention centre fence during the riots and the Senate hearing heard they were offered a lift back to the detention centre. Department spokeswoman Jackie Wilson says it was not possible to arrest the group. "The numbers of police on the island and the need to secure the airport as a priority did not enable us to have sufficient AFP on the island to do that," she said. "We were trying to do it in a peaceful way which required working with the clients rather than using AFP, which were being used for another purpose at the time." The Opposition says the lack of federal police left the island in a vulnerable position. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says it backs his argument for a parliamentary inquiry into the detention network. "[It's] very concerning that there were not sufficient police on the island when things broke out," he said. "What makes [this] worse is the department confirmed that the number and type of incidents were escalating and getting more serious, which was a clear indication that things were ... [the] temperature was rising and things were getting out of hand." The Government has already established a number of inquiries into the detention network.

May 6, 2011 Big Pond
A Christmas Island detention centre guard has accused management of a series of cover-ups. The guard said Serco, a private company that runs Australia's detention centres, was keeping the immigration department in the dark about the problems it faces at its facilities. Choosing to remain anonymous, he told ABC television on Thursday a management officer shredded a report detailing an incident in which he was attacked. 'You might get an unruly detainee, and Immigration will say Oh no, you can't do anything, you can't touch him' even if he pushes you, shoves ya, you just look at him,' the guard said. 'If you write him up, sometimes it goes into Bin 13 - and that's it.' He said Bin 13 was code among staff for the shredder. Asked if such cover-ups were a regular occurrence, he replied: 'I'd say so.' The man also accused Serco of inflating staff numbers and having guards on the rosters that didn't exist. 'Yep, they're not on the island, but they're on the roster.' The guard said he and his colleagues sometimes would go to work drunk, but were never punished because of the worker shortage. The ABC broadcast statements from two other Serco guards who agreed staff numbers were low. One said that during a riot in February, there had been 15 guards watching over 2500 detainees. Serco has been contacted for comment. The cover-up claims come as Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was forced to rebuke his department for not alerting him to the discovery of a homemade bomb at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre. He conceded he should have been alerted when the primitive device was found in March, just a month before a riot and major fire broke out, damaging nine buildings.

May 10, 2011 The Australian
THERE are now tensions among guards as well as detainees on Christmas Island. Up to 100 untrained casual detention workers at the centre claim they are doing the same work as qualified security officers but are paid about $800 a week less. Serco, the company chosen to run Australia's immigration detention centres, is battling a shortage of workers on the remote island and has grown concerned by recent resignations and dissatisfaction among the lower-paid workforce employed by subcontractor MSS. Serco has begun recruiting MSS workers in a bid to quell disquiet and prevent further resignations, The Australian has been told. "We're the ones doing all the work while Serco workers get the good pay," one MSS worker told The Australian. "Some Serco officers are sympathetic but some just lord it over you because you haven't done the Serco course. We're not even supposed to have contact with the clients (detainees) and we're running the place." Under Australian law, detention centre officers who interact with asylum-seekers in detention must complete a training course that usually takes six weeks. The arrival of untrained security subcontractors from MSS on Christmas Island last year helped Serco fill positions at the main detention centre and other camps as the boat arrivals rose. But The Australian has been told the move took the Department of Immigration and Citizenship by surprise. "DIAC didn't know they were here, on the island, already working," one immigration worker said. Serco employs more than 100 Christmas Islanders but dissatisfaction built up between the fly-in, fly-out workers after the MSS staff discovered their Serco colleagues had extra benefits. These include a "living away from home" allowance of $103 a day and a daily allowance if they shared a room with another guard.

April 19, 2011 ABC Radio Australia News
New allegations have surfaced that staff at Australia's Christmas Island detention centre are being pressured not to report troublesome incidents. Kaye Bernard from the Christmas Island Workers union claims the company that manages the facility, Serco, has instructed workers not to report incidents, including self-harm. Ms Bernard claims it's because the company doesn't want to be fined by the Government if its found to have breached its contractual obligations. "They've certainly instructed some of our members that they will not, that they will not tolerate them reporting incidents as they are required to do over the contract with DIAC and if you do report incidents you get a window seat, you get flown off the island," she said. In a statement Serco has strongly denied the allegation.

March 26, 2011 The West Australian
Asylum seekers involved in violent protests on Christmas Island armed themselves with riot gear including shields and handcuffs stolen from detention centre security guards. The West Australian has confirmed detainees managed to seize dangerous "restraint equipment" after storming one of the centre's administration buildings early in the riots. Stolen equipment included specialist riot shields, plastic flexi-handcuffs and protective equipment. The equipment was taken from the stores of the detention service provider Serco. "Some detainees are believed to have gained access to restraint equipment, including helmets and shields. All items were subsequently recovered or accounted for," Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's spokesman said. As well as the riot equipment, detainees are known to have armed themselves with broom handles and pool cues and a kind of accelerant described by some as a form of Molotov cocktail.

March 23, 2011 Big Pond News
Federal police have arrested two men in the jungle on Christmas Island during a search for escaped detainees following break-outs and riots at the detention centre. The arrests follow conflicting government statements on whether all detainees had been accounted for after police regained control of the centre. On Tuesday, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said a first head count at the centre had not tallied, so a second count, matching detainees with their photos, was being conducted by the centre's private operator Serco. As that count was under way, AFP Operations Commander Rob Gilliland told reporters on the island that two men were taken into custody by AFP officers conducting searches near the Northwest Point detention centre on Tuesday morning. The officers 'found these two individuals in the jungle', he said. Mass break-outs preceded last week's riots, in which accommodation marquees and small buildings were burnt down as police used tear gas and 'bean-bag bullets' to quell rioters throwing molotov cocktails and rocks. At least two break-outs occurred, one involving a perimeter fence being pushed down, and up to 170 detainees roamed the island, heightening safety fears in the Christmas Island community. Police, who now number 189 on the island, have secured the centre, imposing a night-time curfew and electrifying a security fence.

March 22, 2011 The Australian
THE former manager of the Christmas Island detention centre wrote to his boss at Serco five months before last week's riots, urging the company to hire more staff to tackle security and safety failures at the overcrowded facility. The staffing proposal document written last October by then centre manager, Ray Wiley, urged Serco, which operates all the detention centres, to hire more personnel and "provide proactive intervention rather than reactive damage control". The document, obtained by The Australian, details chronic overcrowding at Christmas Island's main detention centre, including 144 detainees housed in classrooms, 92 in storerooms, 30 in a visiting area and 240 in tents. In his letter, Mr Wiley, who has since left Serco, claims the detention centre was "typically 15 staff short per day" and says "even if all posts were filled, we would struggle". "This in itself does not enable confidence in being able to manage the centre in a controlled and ordered manner, affording a safe environment for staff, clients and visitors to the centre," he says. Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. .End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. After violent rioting last Thursday night in which parts of the centre were burned to the ground, the Immigration Department asked the Australian Federal Police to take over control of the facility from Serco, which has a $370 million a year contract to run Australia's detention centres. Julia Gillard warned yesterday that the asylum-seekers involved in the riots would not go unpunished, saying they should face criminal charges. After taking charge of security at the problem-plagued centre, the AFP has switched on the electric fences and yesterday patrolled the compound with a tactical police dog to move detainees to their assigned areas. Some detainees have been refusing to move to the main compounds from the burnt-out remains of the Aqua and Lilac compounds at the edge of the centre. There are fears up to 20 escaped detainees are camping out in the jungle, eating robber crabs, and yesterday AFP operational commander Chris Lines acknowledged that an official head-count had not been completed. "What I can report is that it was another calm night at the centre, the third calm night in succession," Deputy Superintendent Lines said. Serco was reportedly fined more than $4m for contract breaches earlier this year. Rosters obtained by The Australian this month show that on some night shifts since November, there have been fewer than 10 guards in compounds holding about 1600 men.

March 19, 2011 The Australian
THE rioting detainees on Christmas Island have been warned that they face 20-year jail terms and having their asylum bids rejected, as the government tries to end six days of running battles with federal police that have left the detention centre in burnt-out ruins. The rioting sparked a renewed political battle yesterday, with the Greens describing the border protection system as having reached breaking point and the Coalition demanding the government suspend the asylum applications of the rioters to send a message to other asylum-seekers. The $400 million detention centre built by the Howard government was a scene of devastation yesterday, with tents and other accommodation burnt to the ground. A group of 280 non-violent detainees were being sheltered from others who had allegedly pressured them into joining the uprising. The centre's contractor, Serco, was yesterday using barbecues to feed detainees because of damage to the kitchens where meals are prepared for almost 3000 asylum-seekers. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen rejected opposition claims that Christmas Island was out of control, saying he was satisfied the AFP had taken stewardship of the detention facility. He appointed two former senior bureaucrats to review the performance of his department and Serco. Describing the violence as inexcusable, Mr Bowen said he had the power to reject visa applications on the basis of conduct and character, in a clear warning to the ringleaders that their activities could cost them asylum even if they are not charged. Mr Bowen told The Weekend Australian yesterday jail time for the rioters would not be ruled out.

March 1, 2011 The Age
THIRTEEN people were injured, windows were smashed and three asylum seekers were arrested during a riot at the crowded Christmas Island detention centre at the weekend. Federal police used capsicum spray to subdue some of those involved in the fracas, which led to several young Afghans being separated from other asylum seekers and locked in a dining room overnight for their own protection. Sources said the altercation was similar to a violent incident earlier last month at another facility, the Darwin Airport Lodge, where hundreds of asylum seekers are being held. While the catalyst is believed to be tension between Afghan Hazara boys and the protective fathers of girls in the centre, advocates say the violence is the consequence of frustration over indefinite detention, cramped conditions and inadequate facilities. Many of the unaccompanied minors are unable to attend school on the island. All are denied access to the community oval adjacent to the centre because of a dispute with the local cricket club.

February 4, 2011 The Age
INTERPRETERS for asylum seekers on Christmas Island have been working without accreditation or translating experience. A Melbourne interpreter said unqualified staff were ill-equipped to deal with asylum seekers' issues dispassionately. ''Some of the interpreters are not competent because they are not actually interpreters,'' the source, who had worked on Christmas Island, said. ''It's not up to Immigration. They are desperate. The number of clients has gone up and demand is shocking.'' For certain dialects, the interpreter said, it was impossible to meet demand from the pool of trained professionals within Australia. The comments follow a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, which found asylum seekers had been assigned interpreters who did not speak their language and were recording incorrect information on their asylum claims. Amnesty International Australia said the problems were common to detention centres in Darwin and at Curtin in Western Australia.

December 2, 2010 Daily Telegraph
THE Department of Immigration is investigating a brawl which broke out between 100 asylum seekers, some teenagers, at Christmas Island Detention Centre. Just before 10pm (WST) on Monday, a fight broke out at the detention centre's construction camp involving Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan asylum seekers and Indonesian boat crew. A Department spokesman said the construction camp is where many of the unaccompanied minors who arrive at Christmas Island are held and the brawl did involve teenagers. "It was just a bit of a scuffle between a bunch of teenagers really and it was brought under control fairly quickly," he said. Three detainees suffered minor injuries as a result of the fight and were taken to hospital after being assessed by the detention centre's health service providers. Police were called and the Department ordered a full investigation and report into the brawl by the centre's service provider Serco.

September 13, 2010 The Australian
A VIOLENT and bloody riot erupted between Sri Lankan and Afghan detainees at Christmas Island’s detention centre one hour after guards decided it was safe to re-open security doors separating the brawling ethnic groups. The riot on November 21 last year involved up to 200 men and saw Sri Lankan asylum-seekers brandish metal soccer goalposts and attack a vastly outnumbered group of Afghan detainees, prosecutors allege. Opening the Commonwealth’s case today against five Sri Lankan men charged with participating in a riot and possessing a weapon, Ron Davies QC said four hours before the rampage a violent argument between Sri Lankans and Afghans resulted in security doors being closed. The doors separated detainees from accommodation compounds and a communal recreation area. Mr Davies said the doors re-opened around 7pm and about an hour later tensions boiled over and the riot began, resulting in 50 people being injured. “Clients (detainees) were attacking each other with anything and everything they could, buckets, pool cues, mops, brooms, chairs,” Serco operations manager Mark Bonccorso told Perth Magistrates Court today. Mr Bonccorso - whose employer managed the centre for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship - said after the initial argument he spoke to the detainees involved who told him the problem was resolved. When the security doors were raised he assured two Afghan detainees that they could return to their compound because the Sri Lankans had told him “it was over”. But Mr Bonccorso told magistrate Steve Malley that when the riot broke out he saw one of the Afghan men he had previously reassured with severe facial injuries. “He approached me and said to me, ‘you said it would be safe’,” he said. He told the court that at one point there was at least 100 Sri Lankans moving towards 40 Afghans, some of whom were trying to retreat. “(Sri Lankans) had got towards the goal posts and they had physically ripped them apart to arm themselves with metal bars... they started to advance to the Afghans,” he said. Mr Bonccorso said he saw one Afghan man who was not participating in the riot struck in the head from behind by a Sri Lankan armed with a tree stump. He said he and other guards tried to break up the riot by arming themselves with sticks and trying to deflect blows between the asylum-seekers. “My impression was the Afghans were losing and losing pretty badly,” he said.

August 17, 2010 The Australian
IMMIGRATION officers are investigating how a Kurdish detainee escaped from Christmas Island's Detention Centre for at least nine hours today. He is back in the centre tonight after the Australian Federal Police found him about 500m from the boundary at 3.30pm local time (6.30pm AEST). The AFP took him to the local hospital, and he had no apparent injuries. The Immigration Department has ordered a report of the incident from the contractor running the centre, Serco, after a headcount at 7am yesterday confirmed someone was unaccounted for. Serco will be fined if the escape is found to have resulted from lax work practices or incompetence. Serco initially believed the man escaped by digging a hole under a perimeter fence, taking a pillow and a blanket with him into inhospitable jungle. In April, a man escaped from the centre by scaling two high fences. A department spokeswoman said the method of the most recent escape was still being investigated, but there was no evidence to show he dug himself out.

May 4, 2010 The Australian
A DISGRUNTLED detainee left his tent, scaled two wire fences and stalked off into thick jungle on Christmas Island last Friday, sparking an Australian Federal Police operation and warnings to detention centre staff not to speak about the security breach. The man was seen about 10.30am (WST) escaping from the $400 million Immigration Detention Centre, built by the Howard government with security akin to a maximum-security prison. He was spotted climbing an electric fence that The Australian understands was not activated. He was picked up by the AFP close to the centre about 2.30pm (local time). The Department of Immigration and Citizenship refused to answer questions about whether the fences were electrified, or had been since the Rudd Government placed the first detainees in the centre in December 2008. But a spokesman for the Department said the man had been gone for about an hour, between about 1.30pm and 2.30pm. "He was monitored while he was out," the spokesman said. The department and contractor Serco has told workers not to talk about the escape. Escaping from the detention centre is almost certainly futile; the tiny island is 2700km by sea from Perth. Anyone who breaks out faces sheer cliffs in one direction, jungle in another and a 20km walk to a settlement where they would stand out. The escape comes amid increasing anxiety among detainees about an apparent toughening of the Department's approach. As the man bolted, a group of Afghans inside the centre was protesting against a decision to reject 25 of them for visas. The rejections came as a shock because no Afghan asylum-seeker arriving by boat has been sent home by the Rudd Government. But Immigration Minister Chris Evans has hinted that more rejections are imminent.

March 12, 2010 The Australian
PROSECUTORS are unsure whether they have sufficient evidence against 11 asylum-seekers charged over a riot inside the Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island in November. The commonwealth revealed its uncertainty about the case at the Christmas Island courthouse yesterday when the nine Sri Lankan men and two Afghanis made their first appearances to answer charges of taking part in a riot and wielding weapons, including a chair. They all pleaded not guilty after arriving under guard in a minibus from the Phosphate Hill detention compound. Prosecutor Joel Grinceri told the court the commonwealth needed more time to assess the evidence and find out about the availability of witnesses to the riot. "The commonwealth DPP is not in possession of all relevant material from the Australian Federal Police to enable proper consideration of the sufficiency of the evidence and the possible approach to prosecute these persons," Mr Grinceri said. The Australian understands CCTV footage of some crucial parts of the rioting either does not exist or is of poor quality. Julian Burnside QC has been asked to represent the asylum-seekers if the matters go to trial. "Identification will be a major issue in this case," Mr Burnside told The Australian. "The role of Serco (the contractor that runs the detention centre and supplies guards) in the disturbance will also be an issue."

February 27, 2010 Green Left Weekly
An asylum seeker accused of rioting in the Christmas Island detention centre on November 21 recently contacted a refugee advocate about living conditions inside. The refugee advocate asked Green Left Weekly to withhold both their name. At the trial of the accused rioters on January 20, the magistrate did not issue orders to move them. Yet the accused were moved to “red compound”. The asylum seeker said they felt violated by surveillance cameras in the toilets, and complained about this. They have since been moved to the centre’s “alpha compound”. There are no surveillance cameras in the toilets at the alpha compound, but it is more crowded. The asylum seeker said he was in a 12-by-10 foot room with two others. It was too small to fit a table or cupboard, or to display religious items. He said they were not allowed out to the oval, church or the pool. They were surrounded by an electric fence. They had access to mobile phones in red compound, but they are banned in alpha compound. There are two computers for 100 people. He wrote: “We can’t inform this message [to] anybody, so I inform you: what can we do?” He was distraught about the fate of his family, fearful of his fate in detention, and desperate to continue tertiary studies. He was very appreciative of what practical help the refugee advocate could provide, which was to send him books on learning English. That there was a need to send books suggests little had changed since a 2003 report characterised the detention centre’s library services to asylum seekers as “leftovers and scraps”. The living conditions sounded like a Siberian prison camp under Stalin. Serco, the company that runs the privatised detention centre, refused to speak to GLW. However, a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesperson answered some questions by email. DIAC advised that if refugees are unhappy with their living conditions they can “raise such issues with the detention services provider”. The refugee advocate told GLW that the ombudsman plans to visit the island. It is not clear if the ombudsman will have access to complaints. There is a higher security area known as “red compound”. Surveillance of toilet areas is used only if inmates pose a very high risk to themselves or others. Alpha compound is an “ordinary holding area”, DIAC told GLW. Asylum seekers are given 50 credit points (worth about $1) per week with which they can purchase items such as cigarettes or phone cards to use with fixed phones. According to DIAC, many of the books available were “sourced from the Christmas Island local school, while some books, magazines and newspapers have been donated by people living on the island”. However, a “large order” of Tamil books that includes novels, cricket books and magazines had just been delivered. Given the serious gap between the asylum seeker’s evidence and DIAC’s description, it is of grave concern that ordinary Australians cannot freely contact staff or residents at the centre. Serco Australia has pledged to “meet the highest standards of performance and accountability”. But has it?

November 24, 2009 The Age
RIOTING refugees could be kicked out of Australia for their part in a wild brawl that broke out in Christmas Island's detention centre on Saturday night. Security is also set to be beefed up following the riot, in which 150 Afghan and Tamil asylum seekers attacked each other with pool cues, brooms and tree branches. The fight was sparked by a dispute over a game of pool. As a Federal Police probe began, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned that the ringleaders had jeopardised their asylum claims: ''If a detainee on Christmas Island has committed a serious offence this will be taken into consideration as part of the assessment as to whether or not they are granted a visa.'' A fourth asylum seeker who was badly injured in the brawl was flown to Perth for treatment, joining three other men already in Fremantle Hospital, in a stable condition. While 43 asylum seekers were hurt, five guards employed by the centre's manager Serco suffered minor injuries. Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the warring groups were being kept separate and he promised tighter security. The problem started when two Afghan men using a pool table refused to give it up and taunted waiting Tamils, a source said. ''The Afghans kept heckling and wouldn't get out. Normally when two people lose, they leave and let the next two have a go. The men exchanged foul language and one Afghan hit the Tamil guy and the Tamil guy hit back and then it escalated with pool cues,'' the source said. A fight erupted and continued for 45 minutes before it was broken up by Serco staff. After detainees were locked in their rooms for an hour, those treated for wounds returned to find 50 Afghan men waiting. Another brawl erupted. The source said Sinhalese Sri Lankans backed Tamil countrymen in the fight that left some with broken bones and head injuries. Senator Evans dismissed suggestions ethnic tensions, such as resentment towards the Afghans for getting visas quicker, triggered the fight. He said Sri Lankan men had become increasingly anxious after some of their countrymen were deported a few weeks ago. ''There has been some increased tension around the Sri Lankans in particular being a bit concerned, as we have had some people removed back to Sri Lanka,'' Mr Evans said. He added he was ''quite comfortable'' that the centre was being managed properly, despite becoming increasingly overcrowded as more detainees were squeezed in.

Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center, Colnbrook, UK
Jun 16, 2015 theguardian.com

UK: Gov must release critical private prison reports

Potentially damaging reports into the running of two immigration detention centres by private contractors must be released by the Home Office within weeks, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said. The documents will give detailed breakdowns and insight into the running of Harmondsworth, Britain’s largest immigration detention centre, and Colnbrook, both near Heathrow in west London. It is believed that this is the first time the reports, which are prepared for Home Office officials each month by the contractors that run Britain’s immigration detention facilities, will come to light. The Home Office fought to prevent their release for more than 10 months after the research group Corporate Watch lodged a freedom of information request. Government officials argued that the documents were confidential and would harm the commercial interests of the contractors Serco and GEO Group if they became public knowledge. The Home Office also said their release would make it more difficult to negotiate deals with contractors in future. However, in a decision Corporate Watch described as landmark, the ICO said that, while it agreed that the commercial interests of the firms would be harmed, the public interest in transparency was more important, and gave the Home Office until 13 July to release the reports. It said their release would cause no significant damage to the Home Office’s bargaining position with potential contractors, knocking down an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act often relied upon by government departments. Phil Miller, a researcher for Corporate Watch, said the ICO’s decision sent “a strong signal to government to be far more transparent on outsourced contracts. Home Office bureaucrats should not shield private security companies from public scrutiny”. In a document detailing the reasons for its ruling, the ICO said the operation of immigration removal centres (IRCs) in general is an issue that has been the subject of scrutiny and concern. It said it had taken into account media coverage suggesting that the operation of the centres “has been a problematic area generally” and that the HM chief inspector of prisons’ reports were “to varying degrees of severity, critical” of the running of Harmondsworth and Colnbrook. The document added: “The introduction to the report on Harmondsworth refers to ‘inadequate focus on the needs of the most vulnerable detainees’, ‘shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost’ and to the centre as ‘dirty and bleak’ and ‘in a state of drift’.” It noted that the Colnbrook report was also negative, although to a lesser degree. The ICO said: “Given this publicly available criticism of the operation of these centres, the commissioner’s view is that there is in general a very strong public interest in other information about their operation.” It said that because the two self-audits now due to be released post-date the HMIP reports, “there is a strong public interest in favour of disclosure in order to reveal whether, according to the contractors’ own accounts, the operations of these IRCs improved”. The commissioner added: “It is also highly relevant that the contractors are paid with public money to operate these IRCs. The disclosure of the self-audit reports would add to public knowledge on the extent to which a value-for-money service is being provided to the taxpayer, which is also in the public interest. Furthermore, all of the factors in favour of disclosure are made more acute by the vulnerable nature of people held within IRCs.” The number of reports of serious self-harm at Harmondsworth have increased almost fourfold since 2012, according to figures obtained by Channel 4 News. There were at least 16 cases in 2012 and at least 62 incidents in 2014. Across all UK immigration detention centres, it reported that the number of incidents of self-harm requiring medical attention more than doubled between 2012 and 2014 from 150 to at least 306. The two reports that the Home Office has been ordered to publish date from May 2014, when more than 100 detainees reportedly went on hunger strike at Harmondsworth. At that time, it was being run by the American company GEO Group. Responsibility for Harmondsworth’s operation has now passed to Mitie after it won the contract. Colnbrook is still run by Serco. The government can appeal, but has not confirmed whether it will do so. A Home Office spokesman said: “We have noted the Information Commissioner’s decision and are considering whether or not to appeal. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.” Serco declined to comment, saying it was a matter for the Home Office. GEO Group has not responded to a request for comment.

Mar 1, 2015 rt.com UK

A whistleblower who worked at a Serco-run immigration detention center alleges the firm turned a blind eye to corruption in the jail, despite evidence staff were smuggling hard drugs into the facility and making a handsome profit in the process. Former detention custody officer Mark Blake stands accused of conspiring to commit misconduct when he worked at Colnbrook immigration removal center. However, he maintains his innocence – insisting that stories he leaked to the Sun newspaper were justified and in the public interest. The ex-Colebrook officer’s case began at the Old Bailey in central London on Wednesday. Sun journalist Tom Wells, who also faces allegations of misconduct, is also on trial. During the proceedings, it emerged Blake’s concerns about practices in Colebrook prompted him to forge a connection with Wells. The court heard Blake subsequently leaked a number of controversial stories about Colnbrook to the Sun reporter, and was offered almost £8,000 in return. The tipoffs evolved into 10 separate stories in the tabloid newspaper. Prosecutor Jonathon Rees QC, who is representing Serco, told the court Blake had received training at Colnbrook about not speaking with the press. However, when the detention custody officer was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in March 2013, he told police his actions had been entirely in the “public interest.” Blake said at the time he reached out to the Sun because he knew what was happening at the detention center was illegal. He insisted he did not expect any form of payment. Following his arrest, he informed officers of “widespread drug abuse” and violence between inmates. The ex-Colnbrook employee maintained Serco was aware prison staff were smuggling hard drugs into the facility, and that some had bought luxury cars from the proceeds. The defendant also said female prison staff engaged in sexual activity with inmates. He added when the transgressions were discovered by Serco, the firm “merely turned a blind eye and marched the officers off the premises.” Throughout the proceedings, it emerged Blake was told to “man up” and focus on his job when he raised concerns about the detention center. Blake also told police that Serco bribed inmates with coveted items to silence them and avoid potential financial penalties, jurors heard. Rees told the jury that Serco does not accept Blake’s claim that he raised concerns internally before approaching the Sun. Blake, 43, from Slough, denies all allegations of misconduct in public office. Sun reporter Tom Wells, who lives in southeast London, also denies allegations of misconduct. In January, another Serco immigration detention center in Bedfordshire, southern England came under fire. Read more -- Yarl’s Wood asylum seekers ‘sexually abused by staff’ and ‘denied privacy’ – charity A damning report, conducted by Women for Refugee Women, found that female immigrants detained there are often denied privacy and dignity. The refugee charity said female asylum seekers held at the facility are routinely degraded by male staff, who monitor them while they are naked. It also uncovered claims of sexual misconduct carried out by Yarl’s Wood staff. Nevertheless, the Home Office has maintained full faith in outsourcing giant Serco. The firm was recently offered a £70 million contract by the Home Office to manage Yarl’s Wood for a further eight years. Thousands of people are currently being detained in high security immigration jails across Britain. Many are vulnerable asylum seekers whose requests for UK residency have been rejected or are in process. They are often deeply traumatized by difficult circumstances in their homeland and fearful they may be forcibly returned.

August 5, 2011 The Guardian
Separate investigations into three deaths in immigration removal centres (IRC) in the past month have been launched by the police, amid growing concern about the treatment of detainees. The spate of deaths has caused alarm among critics of the government's detention policy, who warn that the system is at "breaking point" with poor healthcare putting people's lives at risk. Two men died from suspected heart attacks at Colnbrook near Heathrow airport and the third killed himself at the Campsfield House detention centre in Oxfordshire on Tuesday. John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, who has two detention centres including Colnbrook in his constituency, said he feared there would be more deaths as the system struggled to cope with the number of people being detained. "The government is now detaining people on such a scale that the existing services are swamped," he said. "It is inevitable if we put the services under such relentless strain that there will be more deaths as a result … we are dealing with people who are extremely stressed and extremely vulnerable and the services are not able to cope and not able to guarantee their safety." The first man who died was Muhammad Shukat, 47, a Pakistani immigration detainee who collapsed at around 6am on 2 July. His roommate Abdul Khan says that in the hours before he died Shukat was groaning in agony, had very bad chest pains and was sweating profusely. Khan, 19, from Afghanistan, said he began raising the alarm around 6am and pressed the emergency button in the room 10 times in a frantic effort to get help. Khan claimed that on three occasions members of the centre's nursing team entered the room and found Shukat on the floor where he had collapsed. Khan said they put him back into bed, took his temperature and some medicine was administered, but did not call emergency assistance immediately. According to Khan, the nurses initially said that Shukat could go to see the centre's doctor at 8am. According to the London Ambulance Service, Colnbrook staff called an ambulance just before 7.20am. Attempts were made to resuscitate Shukat, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Hillingdon Hospital. A postmortem found the provisional cause of death to be coronary heart disease. Shukat's body has been returned to Pakistan and his family are understood to have no concerns about the medical treatment he received. The second man to die at Colnbrook has not yet been named. According to the Metropolitan police he was 35 and was found dead in his cell at 10.30am last Sunday. London Ambulance Service officials pronounced him dead at the scene. "A postmortem held on 1 August found the cause of death to be a ruptured aorta. The death is being treated as unexplained," said a police spokesman. Colnbrook IRC is managed by Serco. In a statement to detainees about Shukat's death, deputy director at Colnbrook, Jenni Halliday, described her "deep regret" and extended her condolences. In a statement to detainees about the second Colnbrook death, Serco's contract manager, Michael Guy, informed detainees that a resident in the short-term holding facility had died and that the death was thought to be from natural causes. On Tuesday, a 35-year-old man hanged himself in the toilet block at Campsfield House detention centre in Oxfordshire. A fellow detainee, who refused to give his name, said the man had been hours away from being deported and had become very anxious. "He was normally a very quiet person … but the pressure is too much for people in here." It is understood the man had only been at the centre for a few days before he died. The Home Office refused to give any more details saying his extended family had yet to be informed. Emma Ginn, from the campaign group Medical Justice, said the deaths had heightened concern about the poor healthcare on offer to those being kept in UK detention centres. "Based on medical evidence from many hundreds of detainees, Medical Justice has documented the disturbingly inadequate healthcare provision that often vulnerable immigration detainees are subjected to in Colnbrook and other immigration removal centres... [this] combined with the perilous and frightening conditions of detention, is a lethal cocktail, a disaster waiting to happen." The UK Border Agency declined to comment on the specific circumstances of each case. It said the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman always investigated deaths in immigration detention centres and it would be inappropriate to comment until these were complete. David Wood, director of criminality and detention at the UK Border Agency, said all detainees at immigration removal centres have access to health services seven days a week. "All detainees are seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival and are given an opportunity to see a GP within 24 hours," he added. "The health of all detainees is monitored closely, and the healthcare professionals are required to report cases where it is considered that a person's health is being affected by continued detention. "The UK takes its responsibilities seriously, which is why we consider every case on its individual merits and will continue to offer protection to those who need it. However, detention is an essential part of our controls on immigration in the UK." A groundbreaking ruling -- A man with severe mental illness was unlawfully locked up in a UK detention centre for five months and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment, according to a high court ruling. The man, a 34-year-old Indian national, was detained in Harmondsworth immigration removal centre between April and September last year. On Friday a judge ruled that his treatment amounted to a breach of article 3 of the European convention human rights. The man's lawyer said the ruling – thought to be the first of its kind – raised wider questions about how the government treats people with mental illnesses in the immigration and detention system. "The court's decision that my client suffered inhuman or degrading treatment at a UK detention facility sends a very loud and clear message to the authorities," said. "We would urge the minister to conduct a fundamental review into how people suffering from mental illness are treated in the immigration detention estate." The man, referred to as "S" in the ruling, had a history of serious ill treatment and abuse before arriving in the UK. He served time in prison for wounding and assault before being transferred to a secure psychiatric hospital until his discharge in April 2010. Following his release the UK Border Agency said there was "no evidence" he was mentally ill and he was detained in Harmondsworth where his health deteriorated and he began to have psychotic episodes and self harm. The high court intervened and he was released on bail. His lawyers said he had been living with his family since then and had fully complied with the conditions of bail set by the court. In the ruling judge David Elvin said: "S's pre-existing mental condition was both triggered and exacerbated by detention and that involved both a debasement and humiliation of S since it showed a serious lack of respect for his human dignity. It created a state in S's mind of real anguish and fear, through his hallucinations, which led him to self-harm frequently and to behave in a manner which was humiliating…" A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: "We regularly review our detention policies and will look at the findings in this case to ensure lessons are learned. Detention is an essential part of our immigration control but we recognise the importance of ensuring it remains appropriate on a case by case basis."

June 22, 2009 Thaindian
The news that foreign criminals, including rapists and terrorists, are being treated to lavish cuisine as they wait to be deported, has not gone down with the taxpayers in Britain. There is an outrage among residents over money being spent on the preparation of mouthwatering dishes for 383 inmates, who are currently staying at a luxurious 47 million pounds Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in Berkshire. The menu that these detainees are being offered includes oriental poached fish parcels, beef goulash and mint lamb stew. Each detainee is offered four choices for lunch and dinner, plus three vegetable options and a dessert. “The idea that these people should enjoy hotel-style standards of service and food is preposterous. Given the recession we’re living in, most people will think this type of arrangement is outrageous,” the Sun quoted Matthew Elliott, a local resident, as saying. Other delicacies offered to them include chicken chasseur, fish gumbo and beef and onion pie. They are handed a menu at the start of the week and asked to mark their choices for the next seven days - with food cooked to order. “Some of the dishes are so exotic they put Gordon Ramsay to shame. The grub’s certainly better than the local hotels. Now every foreign con wants to come here because the food is so good,” an official said. The scandal is the latest to hit the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in Berkshire, which is run by a private firm ‘Serco’. Earlier it was reported how the detainees had access to Nintendo Wiis and plasma TVs.

June 2, 2009 The Independent
Allegations that asylum seekers are being bullied by immigration staff are not being properly investigated, a report into Britain's flagship immigration removal centre has found. The use of reasonable force to control detainees at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, near Heathrow Airport, had increased and was not always well managed, Anne Owers, the Chief Inspector of Prisons also found in a report published today. In the three months before the inspection, there had been 179 complaints ranging from bullying to poor food. Dame Anne said: "...we found little improvement at Colnbrook since our last visit... there was evidence of the centre taking inappropriate steps to manage some of the challenges; there were examples of separation being misused and the vulnerable persons unit was not fit for purpose." The centre, run by Serco, holds male detainees in the most secure facility in the detention estate. Dame Anne said: "A significant number of complaints, including allegations of staff bullying, were not adequately investigated and replies lacked detail." Dave Woods, head of criminality and detention at the UK Border Agency, said: "In the six months since HMCIP visited, safety, security and purposeful activity for detainees have improved significantly."

January 16, 2007 IC Coventry
Conditions in holding centres for immigration offenders awaiting deportation still need to be improved, the jails watchdog has said. Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers published reports on four immigration short-term holding facilities at Colnbrook near Heathrow Airport, Sandford House in Solihull, and Liverpool's Reliance House and John Lennon Airport. Inspectors found that detainees at Colnbrook spent unacceptably long periods locked in single rooms, and there was a lack of information and independent advice for people facing removal. But it had avoided some of the problems seen in other facilities because it was managed by the Immigration Removal Centre, offering access to healthcare facilities, welfare and race relations support, Ms Owers said. Staff at the three centres in Liverpool and Solihull - all run by Group 4 Securicor - needed more training in the care and protection of children, her report found. The facilities also required reorganising for a mixed population, it added. Ms Owers said: "Accommodation still remains inadequate in many centres and the needs of detainees in relation to healthcare, information and advice, and preparations for release are not yet sufficiently met." Home Office Minister Liam Byrne said: "I take very seriously the recommendations, and action plans responding in detail are currently being drawn up to ensure further improvements are made. "It is important to remember that non-residential short-term holding facilities are intended to accommodate people for very brief periods of time." Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: "The inspector's report confirms what has been apparent for some time: that, for the Government, these people are out of sight and out of mind. "Any society should be ashamed when people are treated like this just because they are to be deported."

Curtin Detention Centre, Australia
November 26, 2011 The West Australian
A Perth man once charged with people smuggling has been working as a guard at an immigration detention centre for the past year. Jarajo Zirak, 22, has been working at the Perth Airport centre but his employer, Serco, stood him down on Thursday after The Weekend West made inquiries about his employment. In a separate development, Serco, which runs Australia's immigration detention centres, has been ordered to investigate claims detainees at the Curtin centre near Derby were pressured by staff to pay money owed for their voyage to Australia. Mr Zirak, an Afghan refugee who has lived in Perth for five years, was arrested outside his family's Thornlie home in April last year and charged with organising or facilitating the proposed entry into Australia of five or more people while in Indonesia between May 22 and November 26, 2009. The charge was dropped a month later. At the time, Australian Federal Police reportedly said there were "significant changes in the strength of evidence from the witness" that were beyond the control of the AFP and prosecutors. A few months later, Serco employed Mr Zirak as a client service officer and, until this week, he had regular contact with asylum seekers. He declined to comment through his lawyer yesterday. A police check would not have shown Mr Zirak's charge because he was not convicted, but a Google search reveals media reports on his arrest. A Serco spokesman said an investigation was under way into his employment.

November 3, 2011 The Australian
A FEMALE security guard suffered head injuries when she was allegedly bashed amid rising tensions among asylum-seekers at Western Australia's Curtin Immigration Detention Centre. The woman's colleagues discovered her semi-conscious in a laundry room in the centre's accommodation compound at about 3am yesterday. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship said a small fire also had been lit in a washing machine in the laundry room, escalating fears of further attempts to burn down buildings. Centre sources told The Australian there were rising tensions at the centre with staff worried that a full-scale riot would break out. There had been several incidents in recent days, The Australian was told. The centre was reopened last year by the federal government.

September 7, 2011 ABC
A parliamentary committee has heard many of the Christmas Island detention centre staff have not had the necessary training to deal with detainees' high rates of self harm and attempted suicide. The committee, which is assessing the impact of mandatory detention, spent two days inspecting the facilities and talking to workers there. The committee's deputy chair, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says because of the island's remoteness and the stressful nature of the work, it is difficult to recruit staff with the mental health skills needed. "Many of the workers in the centres are getting on the job training yet they are dealing with very vulnerable people," she said. "We had one man attempt to hang himself while we were visiting the facility and of course that happens to be a daily occurrence." The committee will tour the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's far north near Derby, today. The joint select committee is visiting detention centres across Australia, assessing a range of issues relating to the cost, impact and effectiveness of mandatory detention. The group will also look at the role of government agencies and private contractors within the detention network, before making their recommendations to parliament. They are expected to hold talks with local hospital staff and workers from Serco which operates the Curtin facility.

August 25, 2011 The West Australian
A former Serco employee at Curtin Detention Centre says treatment of detainees by some staff members was "outrageously brutal" and they were bullied constantly. Seven asylum seekers were flown from Curtin and put in isolation on Christmas Island on Tuesday night because of increased tensions at the remote centre, 40km from Derby. The Immigration Department confirmed two men tried to escape on Friday. They climbed an internal fence but did not get past the electric perimeter fence. A spokeswoman denied the men were injured in the incident and said they were not among three detainees denied treatment at Broome Hospital on Tuesday for speaking to a member of the public in a waiting room. The former employee, who recently resigned and asked not to be named, spoke of growing tensions at Curtin where there were three staff who had "no training, no idea and no perceived intention to provide any welfare" to detainees. "The fact two Serco guards have committed suicided since April is evidence that not everyone can live with this on their conscience," they said. An elderly Afghan man who had asked in July to be moved to a single room because he believed he "smelled" - a problem attributed to mental health issues - was manhandled by staff. They claimed a department case manager and Serco welfare officer called the man a liar after a short interview and, as he tried to leave the room, two "burly" Serco guards shoved him to the ground. He spent four days in hospital with back injuries, the former employee said. Employees were scared to talk to anyone outside the centre about such incidents, particularly the media, for fear of being identified or sacked. "The expulsion of the Serco man at Christmas Island recently and the sacking of the mental health nurse from Darwin last week is evidence that it is a real threat," they said. Habib, 28, an Afghan asylum seeker released in July after 15 months in detention, fears for friends inside. He said some staff were uncaring and detainees were scared to speak out in case it affected their status. Many were depressed after waiting many months for interviews. The immigration spokeswoman rejected claims detainees were treated badly. "We require that our staff and Serco staff treat detainees with dignity and respect," she said. There were complaint processes and allegations were always investigated. She said there were no recent complaints of mistreatment.

August 23, 2011 ABC
A refugee advocacy group says three Curtin detention centre detainees were denied medical treatment for talking to a member of the public at a hospital waiting room. Police and the Immigration Department have confirmed a confrontation happened at Broome regional hospital this morning as the detainees waited for appointments. An argument broke out between refugee advocate Jackie Rehmani and Servo security guards supervising the men. Ms Rehmani says the trouble began when Serco staff told her not to speak to the detainees. "At this point the guards became more irate and asked me to leave and to desist talking to the detainees," she said. "All I was doing was asking them their names, how long they'd been in detention and the officers were very aggressive and intimidatory towards the detainees." Ms Rehmani says it was a distressing scene. "The senior officer left to call the centre management and then (they were) taken out of the hospital and were taken back to the detention centre," she said. "These people get poor health care as it is and their specialist medical appointments were cancelled simply because a member of the public was talking to them." Police were called to attend but say no-one was charged. A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department says the Serco staff stopped the conversation to protect the privacy of the detainees.

July 11, 2011 The Australian
THE company running Australia's immigration detention centres has acknowledged the work is traumatic for staff following the death of a young guard troubled by the hanging of a teenage asylum-seeker. Kieran Webb died while holidaying with his family last Wednesday after working for six months as a security officer at the Curtin immigration detention centre in Western Australia's far north, according to a memo to all staff from government contractor Serco last Friday. There were no suspicious circumstances, Serco Immigration Services managing director Chris Manning wrote in the memo. "If you feel the need for emotional support arising from the work you do, please consider speaking to someone," he said. "It is important we acknowledge that our line of work can at times place us in difficult and traumatic situations as we manage vulnerable people in our care." Five detainees have killed themselves in immigration detention centres since last September. Self-harm and threats of self-harm occur daily, and a psychologist is employed full-time by Serco to help guards deal with the fallout of acts such as lip-sewing, slashing and attempted hangings. The Australian has been told detainees are taking increasingly dramatic steps to draw attention to their grievances. On Christmas Island last Thursday, a detainee sewed his lips together and had a friend tie him to the compound fence in a crucifix position. On March 28, Mr Webb was among guards who cut down a 19-year-old Afghan detainee who hanged himself in his room. Mr Webb was deeply affected by the death and by the unrest that followed, according to guards who worked alongside him at the time.

April 25, 2011 The Age
DETENTION centres on both sides of the country were in turmoil last night, with three detainees maintaining a roof-top protest at Sydney's Villawood facility and hunger strikes under way at the Curtin Centre in Western Australia. The Sydney protesters - now in their sixth day on the roof at Villawood - claimed they are prepared to die unless their demands for asylum in Australia are met. One of the men, Majid Parhizkar, a 24-year-old Iranian, said the three were ''sick, hungry, cold, wet and dizzy'', having had nothing but water since last Wednesday. He said he would not come down until the Department of Immigration granted him a bridging visa that would allow him to stay in Australia with his mother, sister and brother. It was his second visa application rejection, 10 days ago, that prompted him to protest. The other two men - stateless Kurds Mehdi and Amir - want a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A protest by refugee advocates has been planned for outside the gates of Villawood today. The unrest spread to Western Australia's Curtin Air Base detention centre over the weekend, and 16 refugee activists were arrested late yesterday afternoon while blocking the access road to the centre. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, said a hunger strike and sit-in involving about 300 detainees was expected to escalate.

February 4, 2011 The Age
INTERPRETERS for asylum seekers on Christmas Island have been working without accreditation or translating experience. A Melbourne interpreter said unqualified staff were ill-equipped to deal with asylum seekers' issues dispassionately. ''Some of the interpreters are not competent because they are not actually interpreters,'' the source, who had worked on Christmas Island, said. ''It's not up to Immigration. They are desperate. The number of clients has gone up and demand is shocking.'' For certain dialects, the interpreter said, it was impossible to meet demand from the pool of trained professionals within Australia. The comments follow a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, which found asylum seekers had been assigned interpreters who did not speak their language and were recording incorrect information on their asylum claims. Amnesty International Australia said the problems were common to detention centres in Darwin and at Curtin in Western Australia.

August 29, 2010 Green Left
On August 23, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) reported that a 30-year-old man found unconscious in the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia had died. After his collapse on August 21, the man was taken to Derby hospital, 40 kilometres away. That night, he was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, more than 2000km south of Derby. He died the next day. DIAC would not tell Green Left Weekly the man’s name, but said it didn’t believe there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. A Coronial inquiry will be held. Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson, said on August 23: “This man’s death raises yet more questions about remote detention centres. “It seems highly likely that if this man had been living in the community, the medical services to treat any medical condition and the emergency services needed to save his life may have been available for him. We want to see a complete medical audit of all the detention centres.” Under the former Howard Coalition government, immigration detention services were outsourced to GSL (Australia) Pty Ltd. GSL subcontracted medical services to International Medical Health Services (IHMS). Numerous reports exposed the handballing of responsibility under this arrangement. Curtin, Woomera and Baxter detention centres were shut down in an aura of shame. (The federal Labor government re-opened Curtin in June.) Despite its promises to end outsourcing of immigration detention services, the Rudd Labor government simply changed the service provider to SERCO, and contracted directly with IHMS to provide general and mental health care. GLW was unable to find an IHMS webpage, or any description of its services. When asked about healthcare arrangements at Curtin, and specifically whether there was a resident doctor, the DIAC spokesperson simply told GLW: “Curtin immigration detention centre (IDC) provides mental health support teams and medical staff.”

Darwin Airport Lodge Detention Centre, Darwin, Australia
January 5, 2012 North Territory News
THE Territory Coroner has called for a review into the number of nurses working at a Darwin prison after a man "suddenly" died of a heart attack in custody. Joanne Michel, health services manager at Darwin Corrections Centre, told a coronial inquest that there was only one nurse on duty when a young father died on a day she described as a "disaster". Ms Michel wrote a letter to her manager about under-staffing at the prison as a "cry for help" after the 33-year-old man's death on March 12 last year. "It was me venting my frustration," she said in November last year. NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh found yesterday that "no one was at fault" but said lessons could be learnt from the tragedy. He recommended that the NT Health Department review the "appropriate" nurse-to-patient ratio at the prison - that can house up to 700 inmates. He also asked the department to take into account the country's "best practice" when negotiating contracts for the prison's health services. "The tender process should reflect the fact that the Territory prison population is over 80 per cent Aboriginal," he said. The inquest also heard that nursing staff could not contact on-call doctor Carol Tainsch on that day because she couldn't hear her phone ring. Mr Cavanagh said it was "entirely unsatisfactory" that an after hours doctor could not be reached at the weekend. But he said: "I am not able to say whether the failure of nursing staff to reach Dr Tainsch made any difference to the tragic outcome." Mr Cavanagh also recommended that the Government implement a protocol that would give nurses more than one number to call for an after hours doctor.

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

September 20, 2011 AAP
Three asylum seekers are on the run in Darwin after slipping away from a weekend church service. The Vietnamese men were part of a group of 50 Christians who were allowed to attend the Catholic church service on Sunday, escorted by security guards. But part way through the service it is believed the men left the church and have not been seen since.  A spokeswoman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said local and federal police had been called in to try and locate the men. "When the service finished the detention services provider staff identified that the three detainees were missing," the spokeswoman said. "The department views any escape from our immigration detention facilities very seriously," she said. DIAC has called for an investigation and report that will include details of the guarding and security arrangements in place at the time of the escape.

August 19, 2011 The Age
A MENTAL health nurse has been sacked from a Darwin detention centre for saying she believes mandatory detention contributes to mental illness in asylum seekers. A letter sent by her employer, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), and obtained by The Age, says her job was terminated last Friday after Serco detention centre managers and Immigration Department staff complained that she was ''expressing negative political opinions'' about detention. The federal government's Detention Health Advisory Group, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian Psychological Society yesterday called for mandatory detention to be abandoned. Their call came after documents submitted to a parliamentary inquiry showed high levels of self-harm, with 213 detainees treated for self-inflicted injuries and 700 for ''voluntary starvation'' in the first six months of this year. The chairwoman of the advisory group, Professor Louise Newman, said she was concerned that a political view could be held against a health worker. IHMS spokeswoman Melissa Lysaght said last night that staff were entitled to political opinions but needed to work in a team environment. ''In fact, that is not a reason for terminating someone, because everyone is entitled to a political opinion,'' Ms Lysaght said. ''In hindsight, the phrasing of the letter was incorrect.'' She said the woman had been sacked for professional standards reasons, after working there for two weeks. Amanda Gordon, of the Australian Psychological Society, said yesterday there was clear scientific evidence of the harm caused by indefinite detention, which ''exacerbates trauma, and creates mental illness, in contravention of the government's own commitment to reduce it''. Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said yesterday his attack on the mandatory detention policy at the AMA's parliamentary dinner this week had been prompted by ''terrible stories'' being reported by paediatricians and psychiatrists who went inside detention centres. Dr Paul Bauert, director of paediatrics at the Royal Darwin Hospital, said children as young as four and five had been caught up in hunger strikes that their parents were involved in, and were treated at his hospital. ''They weren't eating and required intravenous and gastric drips,'' he said.

August 14, 2011 North Territory News
DETENTION centre staff in Darwin are allegedly afraid to go to work following a melee in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre on Friday morning. Two Burmese detainees have been charged with assault over the incident. A source said Serco staff have cancelled night shifts after one guard was taken to hospital with cuts to the head and 11 other guards were allegedly assaulted. The two detainees will appear in the Darwin Magistrates Court tomorrow. The Australian Federal Police said it was inappropriate to comment because they were still investigating and the Immigration Department declined to comment because of the charges. The incident happened between 1am and 4am. The two men have been held in Australian detention for more than 21 months and are awaiting security clearance. Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network spokesman Carl O'Connor said the detainees rang him after the incident looking to complain to police. One of the men allegedly told DASSAN that two guards "covered us and the rest others twist from leg, twist my hands and push down the floor". "A male supervisor stepped on my stomach and stepped again on my cheek with his knee, while another one strangle from my throat." DASSAN spokeswoman Emma Murphy said the wait in detention centres is causing distress and tension, and is a cause of recent suicide attempts.

August 12, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department has refused to provide further detail about an incident at Darwin's detention centre that has sent a worker to hospital. The department says a number of other staff working for SERCO - the company that runs the centre - sustained minor injuries in the incident. A department spokesman says Australian Federal Police are investigating, but no further detail is being provided about the nature of the incident or the seriousness of the injuries. The news comes as an asylum seeker alleges brutality inside the detention centre. A detainee says he was bashed by SERCO staff after taking part in a peaceful rooftop protest. The Immigration Department says its been made aware of the allegations but has no reports of injuries to asylum seekers. It will not say whether the two incidents are linked.

February 11, 2011 AAP
ELEVEN asylum-seekers have been charged after a disturbance involving about 40 detainees at one of Darwin's detention centres. The 11 males were taken to the Darwin watchhouse this morning following the latest in a series of incidents at the Darwin Airport Lodge detention centre, which is used to house asylum-seeker families and unaccompanied minors. They were later charged under section 197B of the Migration Act in relation to the possession of a weapon as a detainee and were due to appear in the Darwin Magistrates Court this afternoon. The charges come after authorities revealed that six asylum-seekers had been hospitalised in the past three days as a result of several "scuffles" between detainees at the detention centre. Three of the injured detainees have since been returned to the detention centre. An immigration spokesman confirmed there had been "previous scuffles" between detainees in the days leading up to the incident. Late yesterday afternoon a disturbance at the same centre involving several asylum-seekers led to unrest between other detainees, the spokesman said. The spokesman confirmed about 20 detainees started protest action just outside the perimeter. He said police and staff engaged the group, brought the situation under control quickly and returned the detainees to the facility.

May 16, 2010 Northern Territory News
A CHINESE woman was still on the run last night - two days after she escaped detention from a Darwin motel. The Immigration Department confirmed the woman slipped away from the motel on Thursday morning and is yet to be found. The same firm, Serco, that allowed eight people to flee from Sydney's Villawood detention centre, is being blamed for her escape. A source told the Sunday Territorian that federal police had detained the woman and a Chinese man at Darwin airport after the pair allegedly arrived from a Bali flight with fake passports. The source said the woman had to be rushed to hospital when she panicked and swallowed a ring at the airport. She was allegedly left unattended at the hospital before she was moved to the Darwin motel and put into the care of security guards. The man is still believed to be in detention.

Docklands Light Railway, London, England
May 13, 2010 London Evening Standard
Docklands Light Railway operator Serco has been fined £450,000 after it failed to stop a train which hit and killed a man who had fallen off a platform. Robert Carter, 34, stumbled on to the lines at All Saints station following a late-night argument with another passenger, Paul Green. Mr Green telephoned police to say Mr Carter had a knife and had fallen on to the track. Officers asked the DLR control room to check if someone was on the lines, but this was treated as an “informal request” rather than an actual report, Southwark Crown Court was told. A control room operator failed to see Mr Carter on the track and did not halt the trains, which are automatic and do not have an actual driver. Shortly afterwards another member of the control room staff saw a police officer on All Saints station's CCTV waving his arms above his head. This operator immediately pressed an emergency plunger to halt an oncoming train but it was too late. The wheels struck Mr Carter, who suffered serious injuries and died in hospital. Serco was also ordered to pay £43,773 costs. It was found guilty last month, under health and safety regulations, of failing to ensure its automatic trains did not hit people who were on the tracks. Judge Deborah Taylor, passing sentence yesterday, said: “Serco fell considerably below what was required of it.” Procedures were “not robust or comprehensive enough” in dealing with incidents of human error. But the judge said it was clear that Serco “took safety seriously “ and there was “no suggestion profit was put before safety”. David Travers, QC, prosecuting for the Office of Rail Regulation, said Mr Carter was involved in an altercation with another passenger at All Saints. “After he fell, it would appear that Mr Carter was unable or unwilling to move — whether through injuries from the fall, intoxication or for some other reason is unknown,” said Mr Travers. “DLR staff looked at the station on their CCTV monitors, which are not suitable for seeing if anyone is on the track, and failed to see Mr Carter. The train which killed Mr Carter could have been stopped before reaching the station.” Jurors were played a recording of the British Transport Police call to the DLR control centre, in which line controller Paul Day was heard to say: “There's certainly no one on the track.” Stephen Moody, for Serco, said it had made several changes since the incident and improved safety procedures. It denied one count of failing to comply with its health and safety duties.

Doncaster Prison, South Yorkshire, UK
Mar 9, 2016 independent.co.uk
Violence, hostage taking and gang attacks rife in private prison, report finds
Staff shortages at one of Britain’s most modern jails run by the private-sector Serco has left wardens overwhelmed by high levels of violence, hostage-taking and gang assaults on its wings, an inspection report reveals today. Conditions at Doncaster prison – one of five run by the company which has a £3.5bn turnover – were so poor that inspectors spotted mice, cockroaches, missing window panes and exposed wires at the purpose-built prison. Inspectors said that violence was unacceptably high despite prison numbers being cut by 100 to try to deal with the deep-seated problems. Three inmates killed themselves in the past 18 months The Government has focused on problems within Victorian prisons. But campaigners said that conditions at Doncaster – one of 14 run privately – highlighted the extent of problems at new jails blighted by staff shortages and lack of investment. “Today’s report emphasises how misleading it is to blame the prison system’s failings on Victorian jails,” said Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform. “If old buildings were the problem, we would be tearing down Oxbridge. Doncaster is a big, new, private prison, opened in 1994, but it is already infested with vermin. Prisons with too many prisoners and too few staff will fail, no matter how old they are.” The problems at Doncaster represent a case study of Prime Minister David Cameron’s complaint last month about the shameful level of prison violence, drug-taking and self-harm as he announced a shake-up of prisons and the treatment of inmates. Serco was awarded a new 15-year £250m contract from 2011 to run the prison, which holds more than 1,000 inmates, and said that it would “continue to ensure that it is a safe, secure, decent, efficient and responsible establishment”. But inspectors highlighted a raft of failures at the prison including attacks by gangs of men, persistent bullying and at least three hostage incidents. Nearly half of inmates thought it was easy to get drugs. Some prisoners said they were too frightened to leave their cells. Last year a convicted burglar, Keiron Simpson, killed a man with a single punch in an apparently motiveless attack in the prison. “The lack of staff was a critical problem,” the report said. Hospital appointments for sick inmates had to be cancelled because of a lack of escort staff to take them there. One prisoner, in a wheelchair, said he had not had a shower for more than two years because the necessary alterations had not been made. Juliet Lyon, director of the prison Reform Trust, said: “Since its opening, Doncaster has been better known for its institutional meanness and overcrowding than for the efficiency and innovation promised, but not always delivered, by the private sector.” Serco’s record has been mixed. Inspectors said that one of its institutions for sex offenders was very good, while violence at others was assessed to be too high. Julia Rogers, of Serco, said: “We are continuing to address the issues raised in this inspection and safety has improved, violence is gradually reducing and the house blocks have been refurbished.” A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We will be investing £1.3bn to transform the prison estate over the next five years, to better support rehabilitation and tackle bullying, violence and drugs.”

November 3, 2010 The Star
A DISGRACED prison officer who was handed a suicide note by an inmate put it in his manager's 'in tray' to be dealt with the next morning. By that time Shaun Flanagan, aged 26, was dead - just three days after being locked-up on a charge of driving while disqualified. An inquest at Doncaster Coroner's Court was told prison officer Russell Calladine admitted he was too frightened to enter the cell where Mr Flanagan hanged himself in June 2006. Instead, he waited until colleagues at HMP Doncaster arrived a few minutes later before helping to cut the prisoner's noose. It has taken more than four years for evidence about Mr Flanagan's last hours to be heard in public, by a jury of four women and three men. Mr Flanagan, of South Street, Highfields, was supposed to be checked in his cell every 30 minutes because he was detoxifying from drug addiction. But questions have been raised about the checks carried out by Mr Calladine, who has since been sacked.

July 23, 2010 The Star
PRISONER-on-prisoner violence has more than doubled in Doncaster Prison last year after bosses put all the young offenders together. The figures for assaults reported at the Marshgate jail soared to 412 in 2009, compared to 192 in 2008. The figure was more than three time the 2007 figure of 127. The revelation comes as figures obtained by The Star under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there were 1,149 attacks on prisoners by other inmates over the last three years. Lindholme Prison saw the fewest, with 156 over three years, with 47 in 2009, 57 in 2008 and 52 in 2007. Moorland recorded 262, with 85 last year, 86 in 2008 and 91 in 2007. A Ministry of Justice Spokesman said: "The rise on prisoner-on-prisoner assaults recorded at HMP Doncaster in 2009 was due to restructuring in the prison whereby its young offender population was relocated to a single block, rather than dispersed among the adult population. This resulted in a temporary spike in assaults and particularly fights among young offenders.

April 23, 2006 24 DASH
Prison officers are calling for all jail wardens to be better armed claiming they should be given metal batons in order to defend themselves from assault. The Prison Officers Association (POA) conference next month will vote on whether the extendable baton should be allowed in many more prisons. The union's national general secretary Brian Caton said he supported the proposals and predicted the motions would be passed. Currently, staff at private prisons such as Doncaster do not carry batons. "We would say that's wrong," Mr Caton said. "Prisoners in private prisons are no less violent, they're no less difficult. "You are twice as likely to be attacked in a private prison as in a public prison. Last July the Chief Inspector of Prisons warned that staff at a privately-run prison were being bullied by inmates." Anne Owers demanded urgent action after discovering unsafe conditions at Rye Hill jail, near Rugby in Warwickshire, which is run by GSL UK Ltd. Inexperienced officers were ignoring misbehaviour and evidence of contraband in order to "survive" on the wings, the report said.

April 12, 2006 Politics.Co.UK
The government has been forced to defend its use of private contractors to run Britain's prisons in the wake of a critical report from the chief inspector. Anne Owers says that while Doncaster is "by no means a bad local prison", where relationships with staff and inmates are generally good, physical conditions are "sometimes squalid". Many prisoners lack basics such as pillows, toilet seats and working televisions, some cells are dirty and covered in graffiti, and she highlights "institutional meanness" in making prisoners pay to change their account number which allows them to call home. In her report, Ms Owers notes the prison has good points, in particular in its resettlement of offenders and community re-entry facilities, but warns the problems were all in areas "not specifically mandated by the contract under which the prison is run". "There remains a concern that, in focusing on meeting their contractual obligations, prison managers had allowed important areas to slip below what was safe and decent; and indeed may have sought savings in precisely those areas," she said. Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, seized upon today's report as an example of the "manifest failings of private prisons". "It exposes the fallacy promulgated by the Home Office that private prisons have helped to improve prison conditions, raised standards or fostered advances in the decent treatment of prisoners and staff. Doncaster shows that this is not the case," she said. "Unsurprisingly, the chief inspector draws attention to the fact that those areas in which the prison is failing are those in which it was not contractually obliged by the Home Office to meet particular standards."

April 12, 2006 The Mirror
DONCASTER prison has been described as "squalid" and showing signs of "institutional meanness" in a damning report by the jails' watchdog. Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers expressed concern that prison chiefs had let standards slip at the 800-inmate jail and made savings to meet Home Office contract targets. She claims the medium security jail, which is run by private company Serco - formerly known as Premier Prison Services - had deteriorated since it was last inspected in 2003. Her report said one example of "meanness" was charging inmates 50 pence to change family telephone numbers on the automated phone system, which was branded "particularly unfair" because of the shortage of paying jobs in the jail. The chief inspector said: "Respect was seriously undermined by the physical conditions in which many prisoners lived, which in some cases were squalid. Many prisoners lacked pillows, adequate mattresses, toilet seats, working televisions, notice-boards and places to store belongings. "Some cells, especially on the young prisoners' wing, were dirty and festooned with graffiti." First night cells were "squalid" with no hot water, "lumps of foam" as mattresses and "dirty" bedding, said the report. In other areas, bedding was "heavily soiled". Ms Owers also pointed out bullying problems were not properly addressed at the prison and only 29 per cent of young ethnic minority prisoners reported that staff treated them well. In 2003, Ms Owers said Doncaster was a good jail which needed to increase the amount of purposeful activities available - such as work or education - and improve first night facilities. On her return last November, she found it had not tackled these problems and had slipped back in a number of other areas. But, overall, she said Doncaster was "by no means a bad prison". Making 156 recommendations for improvement, Ms Owers said: "Our main concern was not only that managers had failed to tackle problems we pointed out in our last inspection, but that the prison had deteriorated in some important respects - all in areas not mandated in the prison's contract. Yorkshire and Humberside regional offender manager, Paul Wilson, said: "I am satisfied that Serco has responded quickly and appropriately to the inspectorate's recommendations and that the director and his staff are committed to continuous improvement of standards of offender management."

May 6, 2005 The Mirror
VALENTINE'S Day killer Paul Dyson slit his wrists and scrawled "Sorry" on his jail cell wall before admitting responsibility for his girlfriend Joanne Nelson's death. The former bouncer, charged earlier this week, smuggled a small blade into his prison. A guard found him slumped on the floor of his cell in the early hours. Doncaster Prison, where Dyson is being held, opened nine years ago and was Britain's first private jail. It is run by Premier Prisons, which is partly American owned. The jail has been hit by controversy in the past, with allegations of bullying and high numbers of suicides.

Dovegate Prison, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Jan 8, 2017 dailystar.co.uk
Jail racket busted: Tennis balls used to smuggle drugs into Staffordshire prison
BUSTED: Eight drug packages were smuggled into HMP Dovegate inside of tennis balls. The eight packages had been served up over a perimeter fence early on Christmas Eve. Officers at HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire found them outside the jail’s L wing after getting a tip off. Each ball had been opened, packed with drugs and sewn together again. They were then hurled over the fence from the public side of the category B unit. “Everybody was walking around shouting ‘balls please’”. “It’s one of the more unusual techniques used to smuggle drugs. “But a tennis ball is the ideal object to throw long distances and is pretty inconspicuous. “The theory is an inmate was waiting for the delivery but officers got there first.” The consignment was mainly made up of so-called “legal highs” including Spice. The discovery was made at the private jail, run by Serco, at 8am on December 24.Staff also found a white iPhone during a search. Staffordshire police have now launched their own investigation. Glyn Travis, from the Prison Officers Association, said: “Criminals will use all means to smuggle contraband. “This haul of drugs and mobiles was stopped because of the professional action of staff. “But, because of cuts and lower staff numbers, it is harder to stop smuggling.” Dovegate, near Uttoxeter, opened in 2001 and has room for 1,060 inmates.

Feb 13, 2016 bbc.com
Legal highs may have sparked HMP Dovegate riot
Serco said it was "working extremely hard" to address the issues at HMP Dovegate. So-called legal highs could have sparked a riot at Dovegate Prison in Staffordshire, a report has found. Six prisoners took over a residential wing last March. A "catastrophic failure of basic security procedure" allowed a convicted robber to escape in May, independent inspectors said. The use of so-called legal highs led to widespread debt, bullying and violence among inmates, inspectors found. Serco said the report recognised challenges of psychoactive substances. The Independent Monitoring Board annual report said: "Assaults and weapon finds still give rise for concern." In the nine months to the end of September 2015 there were 38 assaults on staff by prisoners and 106 assaults between inmates. There were 45 fights and 136 weapon finds, the report said. New psychoactive substances "could well have been a major contributing factor" for the events of 26 March, said the report. Six prisoners caused "significant interruption to the prison regime" and the National Offender Management service's riot unit, known as the Tornado team, was called in to restore order.

May 29, 2015 independent.co.uk
Violent robber ‘walks out door’ of Serco-run private prison

A “violent” robber managed to escape from a high-security prison run by the outsourcing giant Serco by walking out with a group of people who were visiting him, The Independent has learnt. Haroon Ahmed, 26, is being sought by police after escaping from HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire on Wednesday. He had been in jail since 2008, after being convicted of robbing a garage armed with a knife. Sources close to the prison, which has been run by the private company Serco since it opened in 2001, said Ahmed had managed to slip away unnoticed during visiting hours despite being on the prison’s “watch list”. The extraordinary escape came just hours before the publication of a report by the Government’s prisons watchdog which raised concerns about “very tight” staffing levels at Dovegate. Inspectors said that, on some occasions, entire wings of the prison had been left unstaffed while inmates were out of their cells. Dovegate is a Category B jail, designed to accommodate prisoners who are considered highly likely to attempt escape. It currently holds more than 900 male inmates, most of whom have been convicted of serious violent offences. One former member of staff at the prison, who did not want to be named, told The Independent that Ahmed should have had to pass through at least three locked doors to escape. “He left the visits hall with his visitors and just walked out, basically, which is shocking for a Cat B establishment,” they said. “He never even used violence [to make his escape], and it’s very rare for this to happen.” Haroon Ahmed, 26, is being sought by police after escaping from HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire Haroon Ahmed, 26, is being sought by police after escaping from HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire. Agreeing with inspectors that staffing levels at the prison were too low, the source added: “The situation at the moment is really bad – that’s why I feel it needs to be put out there. The Ministry of Justice needs to do something about it.” The source also claimed that corruption among prison staff was “rife”, with guards earning money by smuggling items such as iPhones to prisoners, and that reports detailing potential security problems at the jail often went unread. Staffordshire Police said Ahmed, who is described as Asian, 6ft tall with a thin build and short black hair in a crew cut, had escaped from the prison at around 4.15pm on Wednesday wearing jeans and a grey T-shirt. He is believed to be staying in the Derby area where he has “numerous connections”. A spokesman for the force said: “Officers involved in the search for him [on Thursday] arrested his brother, Majeed Ahmed, 25, of Derby, and have charged him with assisting a prisoner in escaping from prison. He has been released on bail to appear before magistrates on 25 June. “A black Volkswagen Golf was also recovered as part of the investigation and will be subject to a detailed forensic examination. Due to [Haroon Ahmed’s] conviction for a violent robbery we advise members of the public not to approach him.” Michael Guy, Serco’s director at Dovegate, said: “We are taking this extremely seriously and I have commissioned an investigation into the circumstances of the escape. We are working closely with the police to identify what went wrong and to address any failings.” A spokesperson for the Prison Service said it was “working closely” with police, adding: “Escapes from prison custody are extremely rare but we take each one incredibly seriously. Public protection is our top priority.” When prison inspectors visited the jail in January this year, they found high levels of violence, bullying, unjustified segregation and poor visiting arrangements. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, said the jail’s performance “had dipped” since the inspectors’ last visit, with a new management team struggling to cope with an influx of violent inmates. “Prisoners were left feeling … insecure because staffing on units was often insufficient: we observed short periods when no staff were present on the units, even though a number of prisoners were unlocked,” he wrote in his report, published the day after Ahmed escaped. Inspectors praised the prison’s good living conditions and its resettlement work, but recommended that staffing levels on residential wings should be raised “to reassure prisoners about their safety”. It is understood that the jail’s staffing arrangements were already being reviewed by Serco before inspectors visited. READ MORE: SERCO SHARES PLUNGE AFTER ISSUING FOURTH PROFIT WARNING POLICE DROPS INVESTIGATION INTO SERCO'S PRISONER TRANSPORT CONTRACT SERCO GIVEN YARL’S WOOD CONTRACT DESPITE ‘VAST FAILINGS’  SELF-HARMING AND ABUSE PREVALENT IN PRIVATE PRISONS G4S YOUTH PRISON SLAMMED BY OFSTED REPORT Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Dovegate is an overcrowded and understaffed private prison that has struggled to tackle serious problems. Levels of violence and self-harm are high, and illicit drugs are easy to obtain. “When inspectors visited, there were occasions when they found no staff on the wings. This is particularly worrying in a prison where four people took their own lives in 2013.” Responding to Mr Hardwick’s report, Mr Guy said: “HMP Dovegate has recently faced a number of significant challenges including an influx of category-B prisoners, many of whom have been convicted of serious violent offences and a large number of whom have mental health issues. “We are pleased that the report recognises that we are focused on these challenges, that we have already made a number of improvements and that we have realistic plans for the future. We fully accept the recommendations… We know we have more to do.” Case file: Robber on the run Haroon Ahmed was only 19 when in January 2008 he robbed a garage in Derby at knifepoint. Shaun King, 20, was his accomplice.Derby Crown Court heard that the pair had their faces covered when they burst into the service station. “One of the men jumped on the counter with the knife,” cashier Kulan Sakthy recalled later. “He shoved me on to the counter and put the knife on my neck and said ‘Open the till’. I said, ‘What do you want me to do? Just don’t do anything to me’. It was terrifying.” The men made off with £500, cigarettes and mobile phones, but were arrested. Private prisons: previous scandals

* This month a report into Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Northamptonshire found that children had been subjected to “degrading treatment” and “racist comments” from staff under the influence of illegal drugs. Six members of staff at the G4S-run jail were sacked.

* Teenagers at a Serco-run Young Offender Institution near Bristol were “exposed to unacceptable levels of violence” by staff, inspectors said in 2013. HMP Ashfield is now an adult prison, but is still managed by Serco.

* Inspectors found a prisoner had been held in a “squalid” segregation cell for more than five years, at the women-only HMP Bronzefield in 2013. Sodexo said that due to her complex needs “no other option” was available.

August 14, 2010 The Sun
ONE of Damilola Taylor's killers is claiming £100,000 from prison bosses for failing to stop a lag from slicing off one of his ears. Evil Ricky Preddie, 23, was lured into his attacker's cell and hacked with a home-made knife after a row over a game of pool. Doctors could not sew the lug back on. Preddie is suing private firm Serco, which runs Dovecote Prison, Staffs. Last night Damilola's dad called the claim "outrageous". Richard, 62, said: "He doesn't deserve a penny. Ricky was attacked in prison because he remains as arrogant as ever. "If he had been sentenced properly - and by that I mean the death penalty - then he could only launch his claim in hell." A Serco spokesman said: "Mr Preddie made a complaint that we believe has no substance and have refuted."

January 26, 2010 Derby Telegraph
A FORMER prison officer has appeared in court accused of helping an inmate to escape from a Derbyshire jail. Andrea Clarke is also charged with harbouring an escaped prisoner and leaving a prohibited article for importation into prison. Clarke had been employed at the privately-run Dovegate Prison. But the charges relate to the escape of an inmate from Sudbury Prison, three miles away. The 36-year-old, of Burton, appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court yesterday but entered no plea. The case was committed to Derby Crown Court. Dovegate Prison, in Marchington, near Uttoxeter, is a category B prison run by Serco. A spokesman for HMP Dovegate said: "The individual concerned no longer works for Serco. We continue to fully co-operate with the police."

December 17, 2009 Liverpool Daily Post
A LIVERPOOL prison is among five in the country allowing its inmates to watch satellite television. More than 4,000 prisoners enjoy the privilege in private jails nationwide. Altcourse Prison, in Fazakerley, is among the contractor-run prisons allowing access to a “limited number” of satellite channels. The number of prisoners allowed to watch satellite varies according to behaviour. But Justice minister and city MP Maria Eagle revealed the number was currently around 4,070. The Garston MP was responding to a written question from Tory MP Philip Davies. She said no inmates in public sector jails have access to satellite in their quarters. But they do at Altcourse and other GS4-run prisons in South Wales and Warwickshire. The other private prisons offering satellite television are run by Serco in Staffordshire and Nottingham. Ms Eagle said: “In these establishments, satellite television in cells is generally only available to prisoners on the enhanced or standard level of the incentives and earned privileges scheme.” There are 84,500 prisoners in England and Wales, meaning around one in 20 has access to satellite TV.

December 8, 2009 Yorkshire Post
A JUDGE has urged a thorough investigation into how a dangerous criminal was able to use a mobile phone in prison to organise the punishment shooting of another man who might now lose a leg. Leyon Randall was in Dovegate Prison, Staffordshire, serving an indeterminate jail sentence for robbery, kidnap and firearms offences, at the time he arranged the shooting of Geovannie Meade in Leeds in May this year. Yesterday Randall and his brother Lloyd were both jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court after being convicted by a jury of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Meade. Judge Scott Wolstenholme said: "It is a very serious situation." It appeared Leyon Randall was able not only to communicate regularly via a mobile phone but to organise the "ruthless shooting from the comfort of his jail cell using a mobile phone he had had for weeks if not months". It was also suggested during the case that had been done with the connivance of officers at the jail. "That may be an outrageous lie but it is something I would have thought needs thoroughly investigating," the judge added. He said the shooting was carried out by Lloyd Randall because his brother believed Mr Meade was spending too much time with his girlfriend Amy Farnhill. The fact he was prepared to arrange such lethal violence to settle "petty scores" confirmed the view he was dangerous. It also showed a mobile phone in the wrong hands in prison could be a very dangerous weapon. Sentencing both to life, the judge ordered Leyon Randall, 29, to serve a minimum of eight years and Lloyd Randall, 29 of Recreation Street, Holbeck, Leeds to a minimum of seven years in jail. Both denied any involvement in the shooting. Susanna Holdsworth, 26, a care assistant, found guilty by the jury of perverting the course of justice, was jailed for two years. She gave Lloyd Randall an alibi for the time of the shooting. Farnhill, 18, was cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The jury heard from David Dixon, prosecuting, that on May 9 Mr Meade was invited to Farnhill's address in Lingfield Gate, Moortown, Leeds, but as he arrived in the early hours he was approached by Lloyd Randall and another man, and was shot in the leg by Randall. He had surgery in hospital and further operations since but may still lose his leg. A spokesman for Serco which operates HMP Dovegate said they had worked with West Yorkshire Police in the case: "HMP Dovegate has a leading reputation for reducing and preventing the use of illicit mobile phones. This year alone we have confiscated 46 illegal phones from prisoners or visitors."

September 11, 2009 Burton Mail
A PRIVATE prison near Burton says it has taken action on failings surrounding the death of a prisoner last year. The inquest of Simon Coutts, who was found hanged in his cell at HMP Dovegate, in Marchington, in June last year, concluded yesterday at Stafford Coroner’s Court. The 29-year-old, originally from Manchester, was discovered by prison officers with a ligature around his neck, days after receiving a ‘dear John’ letter from his wife ending their relationship. Details of Coutts’ conviction or how long he was serving were not disclosed at the hearing. The inquest heard from DC Dave Johnstone, the investigating officer from Burton police, that Coutts used a sheet and a towel, wrapped together using electric cable as a ligature. This was fixed to a ligature point — consisting of a hook attached to a small wooden block stuck to the wall using a powerful adhesive glue — with shoe laces. DC Johnstone told the hearing that as well as the hook on the cell wall, there were also makeshift shelves attached, and a bird cage holding a budgerigar, which was permitted in the ‘therapeutic community’ (TC) which houses 200 of the prison’s 700 inmates. Eric Pearson, the investigating officer for prison owner Serco, had told the hearing the previous day that there had been ‘failings’ by prison staff, whom he believed had not carried out cell checks on the night of Coutts’ death. He said both the ligature point and toilet roll used to block the cell door’s glass window should have been spotted and removed if correct checks had been performed.

Dungavel Immigration Centre, Scotland
May 19, 2010 Morning Star
Concrete evidence of the Con-Dem government's contempt for the most vulnerable was already surfacing on Wednesday after one of their headline pledges was shown to be a farce. Anger erupted among human rights campaigners after it emerged that the coalition's announcement that it was committed to ending child detention for immigration purposes had already been severely undermined. Immigration Minister Damian Green boasted on Wednesday of the new government's quick progress that, "with immediate effect, children will no longer be detained overnight at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre. "This is something which many groups in Scotland have been calling for and we are now delivering this positive outcome." But it emerged that the detention of those children and their mothers would continue, as they are instead being transferred to the notorious Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre in Bedfordshire. And Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell wrote to new Home Secretary Theresa May on Wednesday detailing his "strong concerns" when he found out that, on Monday, Pakistani woman Sehar Shebaz and her eight-month-old daughter Wanya were taken into Dungavel. The two are due to be moved to Yarl's Wood. Glasgow MSP Anne McLaughlin said: "The House of Commons has been highly critical of child detention in Yarl's Wood and we must see this practice brought to an end across the UK as soon as possible." Yarl's Wood made the headlines earlier this year after women, many of whom are rape and torture survivors, went on hunger strike against the alleged inhumane treatment they were suffering at the hands of the centre's staff, who are employed by security giant Serco. Black Women's Rape Action Project co-ordinator Cristel Amiss said the pledge to end child detention should be extended to mothers, pointing out that the trauma of a mother and child being separated causes suicidal feelings in mothers and symptoms such as nightmares and bed-wetting in children. She said there was no evidence that detention of mothers and children was necessary as the UK Border Agency itself has admitted that there is no risk of absconding. "No mother wants to rip her child out of school and put them through lying low somewhere - it doesn't happen." Ms Amiss also highlighted that Britain was a signatory to the UN Convention for Refugees, but "successive governments have dismantled that to the point where Britain does not give protection and safety, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable. "Women have told us they had to seek asylum and had to come to Britain because Britain has been involved in promoting wars they have fled and providing arms for rebel forces." The Home Office insisted that detention would continue while a review was carried out into alternatives. End Child Detention Now spokeswoman Esme Madil said: "We see absolutely no reason to delay this while the review is taking place. "Immigration detention should have ended immediately."

May 18, 2005 BBC
Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers said provision for children at the Dungavel immigration detention centre in Lanarkshire was "inadequate". Ms Owers also attacked the "seriously deficient" protection of children at Tinsley House near Gatwick. Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said detention must be carried out with humanity and dignity. Ms Owers said the Dungavel centre, which holds failed asylum seekers before deportation, had failed to implement recommendations made during a visit two years earlier. She said she was "extremely concerned" about children at the centre, and in all the immigration removal centres she had inspected. "Obviously the detention of children is a very sensitive matter which should be exceptional and only for a very short period," she told BBC News. "The problem was that in neither of those centres were there proper independent procedures in place so that the welfare needs of those children could be properly identified and met, and so that any serious concerns could be raised quickly." Dungavel House is Scotland's only immigration removal centre. On Tinsley House, Ms Owers said there was no dedicated child protection officer, and inadequate criminal record checks on staff. The privately-run centre was also attacked for weak complaints and race relations procedures. Linda Fabiani, deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament's cross-party group on refugees, condemned the "disgraceful" provision of care for children at Dungavel. "This report is a damning indictment of the centre and the Scottish Executive's policy on the handling of asylum seekers," the Scottish National Party MSP said. "The executive must now tell the Home Office that it is not acceptable that these children are being failed on Scottish soil and demand action now." The Scottish Socialist Party MSP, Rosie Kane, said: "Dungavel detention centre is Scotland's national disgrace. "The detention of innocent men, women and children on Scottish soil is an abuse of human rights, of the right under international law to seek asylum.
"The detention of children is absolutely barbaric."

An investigation has been launched after a man was found dead at the Dungavel immigration centre.  The Home Office confirmed that there was a death on Friday night, but refused to give any further details.  It is understood that the death at the Lanarkshire centre is not being treated as suspicious.  Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar claimed that the man had committed suicide after he was moved from a centre in west London following a riot.  There was a disturbance at Harmondsworth earlier this month after a 31-year-old detainee was found hanged.  (BBC, July 25, 2004)

Elmley Prison, Kent, UK
May 24, 2010  Kent News
Four people, including a prison guard, have been sentenced for conspiracy to supply drugs and mobile phones to convicts. The drugs had a prison ‘street value’ of around £17,000 in HMP Elmley prison, and the judge described the crimes as "very serious offences, as drugs and mobile phones are a form of currency within prisons which can destroy prison life". Prisoner Darren Byrne, 30, of HMP Elmley, received eight years imprisonment for his role as ringleader in the conspiracy. At Maidstone Crown Court Judge Gold said: "You were at the hub of this conspiracy, orchestrating it all from within the prison walls". The court heard how officers had found a mobile phone and Sim card in Byrne's cell and the phone revealed a series of text messages between him and Carly Morris revealing key information about the smuggling operation. Morris, 25, from Dover, formerly a Serco court security employee working at Canterbury Crown Court, was given a total of five years imprisonment for her role in the conspiracy. Judge Gold said Morris "had a responsibility to transport and guard prisoners and that she had abused her position of trust" by passing over drugs and mobile phones to prisoners to smuggle back into HMP Elmley.

June 3, 2009 Little Hampton Gazette
A former prison worker has been remanded on bail after appearing in court charged with trying to smuggle drugs into a Kent prison. Carly Joanne Morris, 24, who has left her post at Serco, was charged with conspiracy to supply drugs into Elmley Prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, along with three other people. Prison inmate Darren Paul Byrne, 29, Dino Lewis Gillet, 37, unemployed, of Canterbury Road, Westgate-on-Sea, and his wife, Sahra Naomi Gillet, 35, also unemployed and of the same address, also appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court for a preliminary hearing. All four are also charged with conveying prohibited articles into the prison. Morris, from Dover, and Mrs Gillet were remanded on bail. Mr Gillet and Byrne were remanded in custody until their next appearance at Maidstone Crown Court on June 15. Officers from the serious and organised crime unit within Kent Police's specialist operations directorate made the arrests following a joint investigation between Kent Police and HMP Elmley security department. More than 18 police officers were involved in the investigation and arrests and properties in Grange Road, Ramsgate, and Canterbury Road, Westgate-on-Sea, were searched. The arrests come after another former Serco worker was charged with trying to smuggle drugs into the jail last month.

May 14, 2009 BBC
A former prison worker has been charged with trying to smuggle drugs into a Kent jail. Kent Police charged Zoe Spenser-Campbell, 25, with conspiracy to supply controlled drugs into Elmley Prison on the Isle of Sheppey. The former Serco employee was charged alongside labourer Jason Howsam, 26, who lives at the same address in High Street, Herne Bay. A second man who was also arrested on Tuesday was released without charge. The arrests followed a joint investigation between the serious and organised crime unit within Kent Police's specialist operations directorate and HMP Elmley security department.

Harrow Crown Court
London, UK
Serco

January 20, 2012 UKPA
A former Harrow Crown Court prison guard has been jailed for four years for trying to smuggle heroin. Dean Nelder, 28, was caught taking a package containing cannabis and heroin into the court in April last year. Police were alerted to the plan after a note was left in a cell at Wormwood Scrubs prison tipping them off. Passing sentence at the Old Bailey, the Recorder of London Peter Beaumont QC said: "You've let yourself down, you've let your family down, and those who care for you, and you've made it very difficult to get a responsible job in the future." Nelder was jailed for four years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, two years for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and three years for possession of a class A drug with intent to supply, to run concurrently.

Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, Doncaster, England
April 25, 2011 The Independent
Juveniles in private prisons are at risk of serious injury or death through the use of illegal restraints, according to research by the penal reform charity the Howard League. Some privately run Secure Training Centres (STC) are using unlawful restraints which have resulted in bruising, broken bones and a number of deaths of under 18s in penal custody, according to researchers. The report from Howard League lawyers documents the daily violence the juveniles have faced while they have been in custody. A 15-year-old boy in a STC said in evidence given to a Howard League lawyer: "I had bruised shoulders from when one of the staff dragged me across the room and shoved me into the wall. I had bruising on my back from where I was slammed into the wall in my cell." The report reveals that there were 142 injuries to children recorded as a result of the restraint of boys in prisons between April 2008 and March 2009. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC is holding a series of public hearings in the House of Lords into the policies and practices of using force on children in custody. In an independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint in 2006, Lord Carlile recommended that it should never be used as punishment or to secure compliance. He added that the infliction of pain was not acceptable and may be unlawful. The report, Twisted: the Use of Force on Children in Custody, comes after the death of 14-year-old Adam Rickwood who was found hanging in his cell in 2004 after being restrained by staff at Hassockfield STC in County Durham. At a second inquest into his death, held at Easington earlier this year, a jury found that the unlawful use of force by staff had contributed to it. A secret manual published by the Ministry of Justice that was publicly disclosed after legal action in 2010 shows that staff were authorised to use pain-inflicting distraction techniques on the thumbs, ribs and noses of children. According to the Youth Justice Board, 6,904 incidents of restraint were reported between 2009-10 in England and Wales, 257 of which resulted in injury. However, the report highlights that statistics are likely to underestimate the extent to which physical restraint is used, as not all incidents are recorded. Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, said: "These shadowy private companies who profit from children being locked up have disguised their methods of painful holds on children for years. It is time we revealed what is really happening."

February 15, 2011 The Guardian
A high court challenge has been launched over the Ministry of Justice's refusal to identify hundreds of children who have been unlawfully restrained in privately run child jails using techniques that have since been banned. The Children's Rights Alliance for England (Crae) has applied for a judicial review of the refusal by the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, to identify and contact children who may have been unlawfully restrained in the privately run secure training centres. The legal battle follows the second inquest two weeks ago into the death of 14-year-old Adam Rickwood, found hanging in his room at Hassockfield secure training centre where he was on remand in 2006. The inquest concluded that there was a serious system failure which gave rise to an unlawful regime at the jail. The use of several "distraction'' restraint techniques, which involve inflicting pain with a severe blow to the nose or ribs, or by pulling back a child's thumb, were first suspended in 2007 before being banned in 2008. The use of physical restraint to control teenagers in child jails for the purposes of "good order and discipline" was also ruled to be unlawful by the court of appeal in the same year. Carolyne Willow of Crae said she believed that there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of children who have been unlawfully restrained in secure training centres since they first opened in 1998.

January 11, 2011 Evening-Chronicle
GUARDS at a privately-run young people’s unit acted illegally leading up to a teenager’s prison cell suicide, an inquest heard. Tragic Adam Rickwood was found hanging just hours after he was mistreated by warders. His mother Carol Pounder, told jurors she would be “locked up” if she had behaved towards her son the way authorities had in the moments leading up to his death. At a second hearing into the tragedy, following a High Court appeal, Durham’s Assistant Deputy Coroner Jeremy Freedman revealed previous jurors were not informed prison staff had used unorthodox methods to restrain Adam and were acting “unlawfully and illegally” on the evening of his death on August 9, 2004. The 14-year-old, from Burnley, was found hanged by his shoelaces in his cell by staff at the Serco-run Hassockfield secure training centre in Consett, while on remand for an alleged wounding charge. Hours before his death, at 6pm, he was involved in an altercation with staff who ordered him to return to his cell from the social area he was in. The order came after a note was passed to him by another inmate which contained “unflattering remarks” about a female member of staff. When Adam refused to go back to his cell and instead sat on the floor in the communal area, back-up was called and he was physically removed. Four officers restrained him – two holding his arms, one holding his head and one holding his legs. Adam was placed in his cell face down and, because the officer holding his head feared Adam was trying to bite his fingers, he employed a “nose distraction method” to control Adam’s behaviour – a painful manoeuvre which left his nose swollen and bruised. Mr Freedman, who is leading the second inquest into his death, said the previous jury had not been told “three important things”. He said: “When they removed Adam from the free association area, in these circumstances, it was unlawful and illegal. “Second, they weren’t told that the use of Physical Control in Care in taking him into his cell in these circumstances was, too, unlawful. “And thirdly, they weren’t told that the use of the nose distraction technique was in any circumstances unlawful and illegal.”

July 18, 2010 AP
Brutal techniques to restrain children held in private prisons have been made public after mounting pressure from children's rights groups. The Observer disclosed details of the techniques used to train staff in restraining young offenders in the country's four privately-run secure training centres. The secret manual, Physical Control in Care, was created by the HM Prison Service and approved by the Department of Justice in 2005. The government's Youth Justice Board (YJB) had initially fought the Information Commissioner's order to hand over the documents. When the Children's Rights Alliance (CRAE) called on the Justice Secretary to hold an independent judicial inquiry, YJB finally relented. The Observer revealed that control measures authorised for staff to use include "an inverted knuckle into the trainee's sternum and drive inward and upward," "alternate elbow strikes to the young person's ribs until a release is achieved," and "drive straight fingers into the young person's face, and then quickly drive the straightened fingers of the same hand downwards into the young person's groin area." The manual went so far as to warn staff that some techniques risk a "fracture to the skull" and "temporary or permanent blindness caused by rupture to eyeball or detached retina." One passage states in regard to administering a head-hold that "if breathing is compromised the situation ceases to be a restraint and becomes a medical emergency." Carolyne Willow, CRAE's national co-ordinator stated, "Until now, we've seen a compulsive reliance on secrecy and an absolute failure to face up publicly to the disgraceful and unlawful treatment of children the State officially describes as vulnerable." The campaign to make the information public came after the deaths of two children, Gareth Myatt, 15, and Adam Rickwood, 14, who died in the custody of Rainsbrook and Hassockfield secure training centres in 2004.

March 8, 2008 The Northern Echo
BRUTAL restraint techniques used before the suicide of a 14-year-old boy at a North-East secure unit are illegal and must be banned, MPs and peers will demand today. In a damning report, the Joint Human Rights Committee condemns the "state sanctioned infliction of pain against children" as young as 12, who misbehave in private prisons. The restraint techniques include hitting a child's nose from underneath - the restraint method used on Adam Rickwood by staff at the Serco-run Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, near Consett, County Durham. Six hours later, on August 9, 2004, Adam, from Burnley, Lancashire, became the youngest person to die in custody in Britain when he hanged himself from a curtain rail, using his shoelaces. Last night, Adam's mother, Carol Pounder, welcomed the report and said the treatment her son received should never have been allowed to take place. She said: "Sometimes you need to restrain a child to protect them from themselves, but there is a difference between restraining a child and beating a child. "What gives them the right to do these things to our children? If I had punched Adam in the nose and caused pain and bleeding at home, I would be taken to court. But because it happens behind closed doors nobody knows. "The best thing this Government could do is withdraw this distraction technique, not just put a suspension on it." Describing the so-called distraction techniques as unlawful under international human rights laws, the committee warns they have had "tragic results". Andrew Dismore, the committee's Labour chairman, said: "What is, in effect, state-sanctioned infliction of pain against children to ensure good order and discipline should not continue. "It must be absolutely clear that inflicting pain on children is never justified and the use of force is an absolute last resort, for use only when all alternatives have been demonstrably exhausted." The committee also condemns the Government for refusing to release the staff manual for restraining children, which means the full details of the hold techniques remain secret. As well as "nose distraction" - the upward chop to the septum used against Adam - the techniques include the "double basket", where the arms are crossed and held behind the back. In December, the Government agreed to suspend the use of both techniques after medical advice. Today's report demands their permanent removal from the manual. The report includes an extract from a note found in Adam's room after his death. The 14-year-old wrote: "When I calmed down, I asked them why they hit me in the nose and jumped on me. "They said it was because I wouldn't go in my room, so I said what gives them the right to hit a 14-year-old child in the nose, and they said it was restraint." The inquest into his death returned a verdict of suicide. It heard the officer who used the nose distraction technique on the boy later noticed it had drawn blood. The director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Francis Crook, said last night he was very pleased with the committee's opposition to the use of painful restraint. He said: "Treatment that would see a parent or teacher in front of social services is not only allowed in these child jails but positively encouraged by recent rule changes." A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Force is only ever used as a last resort. "However, some young people in secure training centres can be very violent and staff need appropriate and effective methods to contain and resolve dangerous situations. "The Youth Justice Board's Code of Practice on behaviour management makes it explicit that restrictive physical interventions must only be used as a last resort." Serco, which runs the centre, declined to comment.

Kilmarnock (Bowhouse), Scotland
Nov 13, 2016 mirror.co.uk
Kickboxing guard on prison drugs rap after cannabis is 'smuggled into private jail'
Scottish heavyweight boxing contender Ian Gibson allegedly brought in cannabis after being threatened by a jail kingpin lifer. A kickboxing prison guard has been charged with smuggling drugs into a private jail. Ian Gibson, 35, was held by police at HMP Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire then spent the weekend in custody. The heavyweight boxer has been charged with dealing cannabis at the privately run prison. Gibson allegedly brought in the drugs after being threatened by a notorious inmate inside for murder. The prison guard's solicitor Simon Brown said: “A positive line of defence is being pursued.” Gibson is a well-known kickboxer, boxer and strongman athlete. Earlier this year, he lost a fight for the Scottish heavyweight boxing title. He was arrested on November 4 after he was searched at the jail, known locally as Bowhouse. Drugs were allegedly found stashed at a toilet and drug-related items taken from Gibson’s car. Gibson, of Irvine, appeared in private at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last Monday. He faced a single charge of possessing cannabis with intent to supply. Gibson made no plea. The case was continued and he was released on bail. Prosecutors have a year to bring him to trial. He has not been charged in relation to the other items found in his vehicle. Gibson and his lawyers are due to discuss the case with detectives this week. It’s alleged a high-profile prisoner, currently serving life at the jail for murder, threatened ­Gibson. A source told the Daily Record : “The claim is effectively he was ­blackmailed. It’s alleged the drugs were then brought into the jail after this. “There’s now this allegation that cannabis was taken into Bowhouse, where he is a prison officer. “It’s possible that any charges in this case may eventually become part of a bigger conspiracy investigation.” During the commentary for one of Gibson’s fights available online, he is described as a “no-nonsense heavyweight”. He lost his title fight after being knocked out by Eric Majda at Strathclyde Country Park Hotel in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, on July 2. But he scored a first-round win against Manchester fighter Liam Crawley. More than 300 fans were at the kickboxing and boxing night in Irvine. Gibson states on his Facebook page that he was a mechanical engineer before getting his job at the prison. He said last week: “I am not able to say anything about this at the moment.” His solicitor added: “We’re co-operating with police and I’m unable to comment further.” The Scottish Prison Service said staffing issues at the jail were a matter for Serco, who operate HMP Kilmarnock. Serco confirmed Gibson is no longer employed by them. Michael Guy, Serco contract director at the prison, said: “We work very hard to prevent contraband being smuggled into HMP Kilmarnock ­and we take a zero-tolerance ­attitude towards any such ­activity. “Recently, working closely with the police, we undertook a search and we’re pleased that as a result an individual was arrested and charged.” Police confirmed a report had gone to the procurator fiscal.

Jun 4, 2016 dailyrecord.co.uk
Warders at private prison cleared by sheriff over brutal jail murder
A COURT has ruled that staff at Kilmarnock Prison could not have foreseen the murder of an accused rapist by a fellow inmate. A SHERIFF has cleared prison staff of blame for the brutal murder of a prisoner in a private jail. Rape accused Michael Cameron, 21, was on remand at HMP Kilmarnock when he was battered by inmate David Martin in June 2006. Martin, on remand for another killing, was caught on camera kicking, stamping and pouring boiling water on Cameron. Following a fatal accident inquiry, Sheriff Susan Sinclair ruled that staff at the Serco-run jail could not have foreseen the murder. The inquiry heard claims the prisoners should not have been put together in the same ward in a health care wing. It was also alleged two staff failed to intervene when Cameron was first attacked. But Sheriff Sinclair said: “There can be absolutely no criticism of either for their actions on that evening. They did everything that could possibly safely be done.” Martin was jailed for a minimum of 18 years for the killing while co-accused Andrew Kiltie, 28, was deemed insane and unfit to stand trial. The sheriff said there had only been staff failings in relation to filling out ­paperwork.

Jan 12, 2016 holyrood.com
Scottish Government ministers have confirmed plans to broaden the scope of freedom of information laws later this year. Contractors who run Scotland's two private prisons at Addiewell and Kilmarnock will be subject to FOI requests from September, as will providers of secure accommodation for children, grant-aided schools and independent special schools. The announcement comes almost a year to the day since Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew claimed powers to extend FOI to non-public sector bodies delivering public services as a result of outsourcing had been “woefully underused”. The government also looks set to give into pressure to include housing associations after acknowledging there are “persuasive arguments favouring extension” to registered social landlords (RSLs). A full consultation on the proposal will take place this year. Ministers have the power to extend FOI to third parties providing public services under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, though have only done so once to encompass bodies providing culture and leisure services on behalf of local authorities. A consultation was launched in June last year on extending coverage to four separate types of organisation. Implementation will now go ahead five months after originally planned due to concerns about rushed timescales. Ministers also intend to relax a requirement to respond to requests within 20 working days for “certain bodies in certain circumstances”. Agnew said: “We are pleased about the further extension of FOI, and hope this current order is simply the next in a series. “Extension to these organisations will give the public a right to information about performance, standards and how public money is spent.  It will also place a duty on organisations to publish information proactively. “Over the coming months we’ll be working with the organisations to help them prepare for their new responsibilities, to ensure that they are ready by the September deadline.” Though ministers initially said they were not “persuaded of the merits” of extending coverage to housing associations, views were sought on which other bodies should be brought under FOI as part of the recent consultation. A “considerable number” of responses backed a petition currently before Holyrood requesting that housing associations fall under the Act, while the Scottish Information Commissioner has pressed for the move to be made. “Given this combination of factors we are now of the view that there are persuasive arguments favouring extension of coverage of FOISA to registered social landlords and that the sector should be formally consulted in order to fully explore the issues involved and consider which of their functions should be subject to FOISA,” said the Scottish Government in its response. “We therefore propose to consult the RSL sector in tandem with this year’s review of the Scottish Social Housing Charter.” Since the FOI Act came into force in 2005, over 15,000 Scottish households have lost FOI rights following the transfer of local authority housing stock to housing associations, according to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Jan 12, 2016 holyrood.com
Government confirms plans to extend freedom of information reach
Scottish Government ministers have confirmed plans to broaden the scope of freedom of information laws later this year. Contractors who run Scotland's two private prisons at Addiewell and Kilmarnock will be subject to FOI requests from September, as will providers of secure accommodation for children, grant-aided schools and independent special schools. The announcement comes almost a year to the day since Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew claimed powers to extend FOI to non-public sector bodies delivering public services as a result of outsourcing had been “woefully underused”. The government also looks set to give into pressure to include housing associations after acknowledging there are “persuasive arguments favouring extension” to registered social landlords (RSLs). A full consultation on the proposal will take place this year. Ministers have the power to extend FOI to third parties providing public services under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, though have only done so once to encompass bodies providing culture and leisure services on behalf of local authorities. A consultation was launched in June last year on extending coverage to four separate types of organisation. Implementation will now go ahead five months after originally planned due to concerns about rushed timescales. Ministers also intend to relax a requirement to respond to requests within 20 working days for “certain bodies in certain circumstances”. Agnew said: “We are pleased about the further extension of FOI, and hope this current order is simply the next in a series. “Extension to these organisations will give the public a right to information about performance, standards and how public money is spent.  It will also place a duty on organisations to publish information proactively. “Over the coming months we’ll be working with the organisations to help them prepare for their new responsibilities, to ensure that they are ready by the September deadline.” Though ministers initially said they were not “persuaded of the merits” of extending coverage to housing associations, views were sought on which other bodies should be brought under FOI as part of the recent consultation. A “considerable number” of responses backed a petition currently before Holyrood requesting that housing associations fall under the Act, while the Scottish Information Commissioner has pressed for the move to be made. “Given this combination of factors we are now of the view that there are persuasive arguments favouring extension of coverage of FOISA to registered social landlords and that the sector should be formally consulted in order to fully explore the issues involved and consider which of their functions should be subject to FOISA,” said the Scottish Government in its response. “We therefore propose to consult the RSL sector in tandem with this year’s review of the Scottish Social Housing Charter.” Since the FOI Act came into force in 2005, over 15,000 Scottish households have lost FOI rights following the transfer of local authority housing stock to housing associations, according to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

July 3, 2011 Scotland on Sunday
A PRIVATE prison has been confirmed as the "softest" in Scotland with one in three inmates who break the rules escaping punishment. Kilmarnock prisoners committed more than 17,500 offences in the past five years, the highest of any adult prison in Scotland. The figures include almost 2,000 cases of assault, drug abuse and destruction of prison property. But statistics for punishments handed out show that a third escaped with a caution, no action or had their case dismissed. The same figures reveal Shotts has the toughest discipline. Despite having fewer cases of drugs and assaults than Kilmarnock, it only lets off 7 per cent of prisoners. Critics of Kilmarnock have claimed that, to save cash, it operates with fewer staff per prisoner, meaning inmates are effectively in control. Details of how Kilmarnock operates are difficult to extract because of strict confidentiality surrounding the private deal, which will cost taxpayers £130 million over 25 years. But the statistics on offences and punishments suggest staff are struggling to control its 550 inmates.

December 3, 2010 Kilmarnock Standard
A NURSE claimed he was ‘outed’ as gay by prison bosses during an investigation into homophobic bullying at HMP Kilmarnock. Steven Ross, from Coatbridge, has been at a tribunal this week. He lodged a grievance in December, 2008 against colleagues at the jail who he said made homophobic remarks. Mr Ross was sent on gardening leave in January, 2009 while the investigation was carried out. At an employment tribunal in Glasgow, before judge Shona MacLean, Mr Ross has lodged a claim against Serco, who run the Kilmarnock prison, claiming he was discriminated against on the grounds of his sexual orientation. Mr Ross told the tribunal that he was subjected to bullying and harassment by colleagues who made comments such as he took “fag breaks” and about him “eating fairy cakes”. Mr Ross, who worked as a mental health nurse at the prison, told the hearing someone asked if he could be trusted on the nightshift alone because he was gay. Mr Ross, represented by lawyer Louise Bain, also said he was asked if he was a ‘giver or a taker’. He described feeling isolated and said he could not sleep and had poor concentration. The tribunal heard that afterwards Mr Ross gave Iain Donnelly, the deputy director of custodial health at the prison, names of those who allegedly made the comments and also witnesses. However, in February, during a conversation with Mr Donnelly, Mr Ross was shocked to learn 38 people had been interviewed. Mr Ross, who appeared upset and close to tears, said: “I couldn’t believe Iain Donnelly had outed me to so many people in the prison. I could not believe he had done this, I was devastated.” He added: “I felt that my human rights had been violated by this man.”

August 5, 2010 STV
A prisoner who died in a privately-run jail after complaining of chest pains was told he had indigestion, an inquiry has heard. William Scott, 58, told other inmates at Kilmarnock prison that he had been feeling increasingly unwell before his death in September 2009. His son Darren, 33, who was also an inmate at the Serco-operated prison, said his father was looking grey and had reported chest pains shortly before his body was discovered in his cell. But Mr Scott said his father was informed he probably had indigestion, a fatal accident inquiry heard at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court. Prison nurse Karen Smith, 50, said Mr Scott was "relaxed and cheerful" when he saw her on the evening before his death. Ms Smith said: "He told me he'd had indigestion and could he have something for it. I asked him how he knew it could be indigestion as it could have been other things." Mr Scott, of Ayr, told her he had a burning pain, the inquiry heard. Ms Smith added: "I dispensed Gaviscon and said if it didn't help to let me know." A prison officer suggested that Mr Scott might have asked when a doctor would be available, but Ms Smith said that she had “no recollection” of such a request. Ms Smith, a nurse for 30 years, admitted that she forgot to record details of the consultation on Mr Scott's medical records. She said she wrote on a Post-it note that Gaviscon had been dispensed but forgot to transfer it to his notes because of a later emergency at the prison. Lorna Grierson, 30, a prison custody officer, said she had looked in on Mr Scott when it was time to wake the prisoners but he was in his bed so she left him there. But later that morning Mr Scott's cell mate asked her to go and check on him. Ms Grierson said: "He appeared not to be breathing so I called the medical response." Other prison custody officers tried to revive Mr Scott without success. Ms Grierson admitted prison rules stated officers should get a verbal response from prisoners when waking them up in the morning. The inquiry has now ended and Sheriff Elizabeth McFarlane will issue a formal determination at a later date.

July 28, 2010 Lynn News
Private sector firms which run prisons and maintain schools and hospitals may face closer scrutiny under Government proposals to make them more accountable to the public. The Scottish Government is considering broadening the scope of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws which give anyone the right to obtain information from publicly-funded bodies such as councils and hospitals about their activities. A 14-week Government consultation will seek views on whether more organisations that deliver public services should be covered by FOI legislation. Those being considered include the private prison contractors running Addiewell and Kilmarnock prisons and those which transport prisoners. The Government believes there are "strong grounds" for Glasgow Housing Association to be covered given "the level of interest that it attracts".

May 10, 2010 BBC
A man has died while on remand in Kilmarnock Prison, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has said. Paul Murdoch, who was 24, had been awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge after appearing at Ayr Sheriff Court in February. He died in the privately-run jail on Saturday. The SPS said his family had been informed. A fatal accident inquiry into the death of Mr Murdoch will be held at a later date.

February 10, 2010 Evening Times
Two inmates at Scotland’s first private jail were involved in a late-night disturbance causing damage to a prison wing. Emergency services were put on stand-by at HMP Kilmarnock in Ayrshire after trouble flared around 8.30pm and lasted several hours. Police were alerted and an ambulance team were standing by at the privately run facility. Two inmates were said to be unhappy about being in Kilmarnock and sparked a disturbance. Damage was cause to Bravo wing and at one stage prison officers were forced to withdraw. The inmates tried to encourage others to get involved but their attempts failed. An investigation into the incident is expected to get under way later today. A prison source said: “Two prisoners tried to get a bit heavy with the staff and caused a disturbance which went on for several hours. “Staff had temporarily to withdraw but the situation was then dealt with and the prison returned to normal within a few hours.” Although emergency services were on the scene, no one is believed to have been injured.

September 9, 2009 BBC
Scotland's Information Commissioner has ordered the release of key financial data from a £50m PFI contract for Kilmarnock jail. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the private jail's operator had resisted giving the information to the union Unison. They argued it would substantially prejudice the contractor's commercial interests. Unison said it was "a major victory for the public's right to know". The prison is operated by Serco on behalf of the Scottish Prison Service. The SPS said it was "currently considering its response". Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion said the significance of the financial model data had diminished substantially since the 25-year contract was signed in November 1997. Unison's Scottish organiser Dave Watson said the union had long argued there was too much secrecy around PFI and Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts. "Too often the public is denied information about the costs of hospital, school and prison contracts on the grounds of commercial prejudice or commercial confidentiality," he said. "This decision is extremely important and should help pave the way for greater access to information about all PFI/PPP contracts." Unison had also requested the Full Business Case (FBC) for the Kilmarnock Prison, but Mr Dunion accepted this was not held. Mr Watson added: "The fact that there is no Full Business Case for the prison speaks volumes about the way public funding has been wasted on PFI/PPP. "The public was always told these projects would deliver value for money but has seen these claims unravel spectacularly over the years. "The figures have frequently been manipulated, or withheld, or in this case, were not even calculated beforehand in any meaningful way."

May 24, 2009 Sunday Mail
A ROOKIE guard has been awarded almost £120,000 for stress she suffered in a prison riot. Ann Hinshelwood says prisoners battled with warders when they did not get milk and cornflakes for breakfast. The 40-year-old was trapped behind a glass partition and forced to watch the riot unfold, which she claims caused her post-traumatic stress disorder. She said: "A lot of prisoners didn't get the milk and breakfast they were entitled to and they were bawling and shouting." Hinshelwood also says her training was so bad she had to ask inmates how to lock their cells. Once she even locked prisoners out of their cells by mistake because she did not know how to use the keys properly. Hinshelwood added: "I didn't know what I was doing and didn't have anyone to help me. I didn't have a clue. "I felt inadequate and stupid because I didn't know the routine and prisoners were trying to tell me what to do." Hinshelwood joined HMP Bowhouse in Kilmarnock as a guard having been a prison office clerk. She was trained from textbooks and, during the sevenweek course, had no practical experience. The riot escalated after fellow custody officer Mark Ritchie challenged an inmate to a fight. The riot was finally brought under control by a response team. Hinshelwood has been on sick leave for the last eight years since she was caught in the middle of the riot in 2001. She launched the claim against private prison operators Premier Custodial Group for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and stress. Hinshelwood, of Strathaven, Lanarkshire, was awarded £116,210 last week at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court after a four-year legal battle. The award was based on her past and future loss of earnings. The court was told that Hinshelwood had been singled out for promotion and would have been earning upwards of £30,000 a year by now. She has also launched a separate claim for legal costs and, if successful, Premier may be forced to pay out a further £50,000. In his judgment, Sheriff Colin Mackay blamed Ritchie and his bosses for the events which led to her suffering the trauma. He said: "It was the duty of Mark Ritchie to take reasonable care for the safety of fellow members of staff. It was his duty not to get involved in fights with prisoners. In each and all of these duties he failed. "His employers at the time are liable for his fault and negligence." The Kilmarnock prison is regarded as a soft option by many hardened cons. It has been dubbed the "Killie Hilton" because it has facilities such as a recording studio and sports hall. All cells have central heating and inmates are allowed DVD players and TVs. A spokesman for HMP Bowhouse said yesterday: "We are studying the judgment and will decide what further legal action to take."

May 22, 2009 Irvine Herald
AN Irvine recycling firm has been ordered to halt using PRISONERS to sort rubbish from homes across North Ayrshire. The order comes from the local authority after it emerged a load of waste – including confidential letters and bank statements – had been handed over to the jail in Kilmarnock to be sorted by cons. The move sparked fears the prisoners could steal people’s identities as they sorted through bags of waste paper. It was feared the work – at the private prison’s industries unit – would leave the public open to fraud or intimidation because many people fail to shred their waste paper. This week the council said they were not aware of the deal between Irvine based Lowmac Alloys and the nick. A spokesman said only one load had gone to the jail and it had been recovered. He added: “Lowmac have been instructed not to do this again. “This is a joint contract between the company, ourselves and South Ayrshire Council.”

May 21, 2009 Ardrossan Herald
The AUTHORITIES are investigating the prison death of a Saltcoats man. Steven Gibb, of Auchenharvie Road, was found dead in his cell on Saturday. The 27-year-old was seven months into a four-and-a-half-year sentence at HM Prison Kilmarnock. The Scottish Prison Service released a brief statement indicating that next of kin had been informed and that a fatal accident inquiry would be held. The cause of death has not yet been established but members of his family told the Herald they suspect he may have suffered a heart attack. Mr Gibb, who was serving his first prison sentence, had been taking medicine for anxiety.

April 20, 2009 BBC
Workers at Scotland's first private jail have called on ministers to hold an independent inquiry into the prison. The design, construction, financing and managing of Kilmarnock needs to be urgently looked into, according to a petition being discussed by MSPs. Holyrood's petitions committee is discussing a call by William Buntain "on behalf of staff at HMP Kilmarnock". Kilmarnock, which opened in 1999, is operated by Serco on behalf of the Scottish Prison Service. Mr Buntain raised health and safety concerns, including that Kilmarnock Prison employees did not have the same level of access to Pava spray, which he described as "pepper spray", in the event of a major incident. Shortly after coming to power, the SNP scrapped plans for a private £100m prison to replace Low Moss near Bishopbriggs, instead saying it would be run by the Scottish Prison Service. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said at the time prisons should be owned and operated by the public sector.

April 5, 2009 Sunday Mail
THREE wardens at a private jail have been suspended after an inmate's cell was left unlocked overnight. The incident at Kilmarnock's Bowhouse Prison is being treated as a major security breach although no prisoners escaped. Derek Turner, of the Prison Officers Association, said: "This is a very serious offence. If a prisoner had left his cell in the night he could have taken a member of staff hostage, got access to keys and opened up the whole jail . "But when a prisoner has been left compromised during the night, that is a more serious issue. People could lose their jobs over this." Two officers who finished their shift at 10pm on Monday are said to have failed to lock the cell when they shut down the rest of the prisoners for the night. And a guard who was on nightshift was accused of failing to spot the door was open when he was doing his rounds. All three have been told to stay at home while an investigation is carried out. The blunder wasn't discovered until Tuesday morning when the dayshift came in. The inmate whose cell was left unlocked was also told by prison bosses that if he had stepped outside his cell he would have been charged with trying to escape. A source at Bowhouse, run by service firm Serco, said: "It was fortunate the lad whose cell was left unlocked was nearing his parole hearing or there could have been chaos. "A lifer wouldn't have thought twice about leaving his cell and there could have been real problems." The Scottish Prison Service said: "Disciplinary matters at HMP Kilmarnock are a matter for the contractor. But we will be interested in any outcome." Hmp Kilmarnock said: "Three members of staff are suspended. An investigation is underway."

January 25, 2009 Sunday Mail
A PRISON doctor fired over claims he caused an inmate to fail a drugs test has been offered his job back. Dr Hamid Kopal won an apology from bosses at Scotland's only private jail after an internal inquest found he was wrongly dismissed. But the doctor could refuse to go back and sue Bowhouse Prison for more than £100,000. A prison insider said: "This is a major own goal for the jail. They've had to admit they were wrong and do a U-turn. "Dr Kopal could decide they've made his position impossible and sue them. "He is a doctor with a professional reputation to protect so it would be for a lot of money." Dr Kopal was booted out as prison medic at the Kilmarnock prison, which is run by private firm Serco. A con had failed a drugs test and blamed pills prescribed by Dr Kopal. No record of the prescription for high-strength painkillers could be found. When it turned up later, Italian-born Dr Kopal, 52, was accused of trying to cover up the mistake and fired. But he claimed bosses wanted him out because he criticised medical care standards at the prison. He said he was not called immediately when inmate Andrew Sorley complained of being ill. Sorley died in hospital of meningitis last year. The doctor also clashed with bosses over attempts to cut costs by reducing medication prescribed to prisoners. The insider said: "He's a good doctor and inmates even launched a petition to get him back." Dr Kopal, of Stewarton, Ayrshire, said: "I have been reinstated and I'm not prepared to say anything else." Serco said: "This is an ongoing staff issue so we cannot comment."

November 30, 2008 Sunday Mail
A PRISON doctor has been sacked over claims he caused a con to fail a drugs test. Hamid Kopal is accused of failing to record high-strength painkillers he prescribed - then trying to cover it up. He insists he is the innocent victim of a witch-hunt because he complained about the standard of medical care. Kopal, 52, claimed he was not called immediately when prisoner Andrew Sorley complained of being ill. He died of meningitis in June. The medic has now launched an appeal against Serco, who run Kilmarnock's Bowhouse Prison. A friend said: "He's a good doctor and cares about his patients but the prison authorities just want to run the place as cheaply as possible." Serco bosses claim Italian-born Kopal did not record prescribing painkillers to an inmate, who later failed a drugs test. The doctor insisted records were up to date but a note of the prescription was later found in the prisoner's file. A jail source said: "The doctor made a mistake but it's covering up the mistake that is the problem." Bowhouse said: "This issue is under investigation." Kopal, of Stewarton, Ayrshire, said: "I can't say anything because I have to have a meeting with the prison authorities."

July 18, 2008 Sunday Herald
A PRISONER died from suspected meningitis
afterpleasfor medical help from his cell were overlooked by warders at Kilmarnock Prison, a Fatal Accident Inquiry is likely to hear. Andrew Sorley had previously fallen into a coma with the disease and it will be claimed he knew the symptoms. As he begged to be taken to hospital, it is alleged that staff at Scotland's only private jail dismissed his claims, saying he was "at it". Medics did not attend to Sorley until 13 hours after his initial calls for help and he later died at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow on June 20. The death, which will be the subject of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI), raises questions about public health issues and contagion in prisons. Fellow inmates say Sorley, serving two years for carrying two knives in public, was heard banging on the door of his cell pleading for help. Prisoners later tried to revive him after he had collapsed on the floor of his cell. Prisoner Peter Simpson told the Sunday Herald that warders checked on Sorley three times during the night but he did not receive medical help until 9am. Simpson, serving six years for stabbing a man who had shot him in an earlier attack, said he desperately tried to help Sorley in his cell the next morning. Sorley's medical records were not sent with the patient to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, and as a result diagnosis was delayed, Simpson claims. Figures from the Scottish Prison Service reveal that HMP Kilmarnock has a higher than average number of deaths in custody in Scotland, the Sunday Herald can exclusively reveal. The UK has the highest level of deaths in custody in Europe. Prisoners are entitled to prompt medical attention and care under prison rule 33 and the European Convention on Human Rights. Simpson said Sorley had complained of feeling unwell as early as 8pm on the evening of Monday, June 16. He claims: "It is also known that prison staff were aware of Drew's medical status as a head-injured person and that he had previously been in a coma as a result of meningitis. "Drew appeared in some distress. He appeared completely disorientated and needed to lean on the walls to steady himself. It was as if he was drunk. "Drew was by this time lying on the floor of his cell and a prisoner was present when Drew told an officer that he knew what was wrong with him. He told the officer that he had suffered from meningitis in the past and said the last time he had experienced symptoms like this, his family called an ambulance and Drew fell into a coma for three days. Simpson claimed staff said they would see what they could do, but as the officer walked back to the D wing with the prisoner, it is alleged that the second prisoner was told Drew was "at it", and "he was probably suffering from the flu and was only looking for tablets". A month before he died, it is alleged Sorley complained to prison authorities and submitted a formal medical complaint claiming he was being denied access to proper medical care. A Scottish government spokesman said: "The justice secretary Kenny McAskill has repeatedly said that we will put public safety, not private profit, at the heart of our coherent prisons policy." The Crown Office declined to disclose how many FAIs had been held from deaths at Kilmarnock prison, or the total number of FAIs for all prisons in Scotland. Serco, the private company that runs HMP Kilmarnock, confirmed there is a nurse or qualified paramedic on each night shift. A spokeswoman said: "We are not in a position to comment on the cause of death. We are waiting for the post mortem results. "We can confirm that our prison officers have first aid training, but cannot confirm that all the officers working that night had first aid training. A trained nurse was on duty that night. We are running our own internal inquiry into the death of Andrew Sorley." She refused to confirm or deny any of the details of the incident.

June 8, 2008 Sunday Mail
BOSSES at Scotland's only private jail are being taken to court after a con lost his thumb in the jail's workshop. Barry O'Pray claims they are to blame for his finger being severed by a circular saw. Serco - who run Bowhouse jail near Kilmarnock - have been charged with failing to provide adequate training and supervision for inmates. It is the first time a jail has been taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive for putting prisoners at risk. If the criminal action is successful, it is likely O'Pray will sue the jail. Serco said: "We will be defending the charges vigorously." It is thought Serco will argue O'Pray deliberately injured himself to get compensation and took painkillers before his thumb was sliced off in January 2007. They will claim he was heard on the phone after the incident saying: "It's sorted out." O'Pray - who has a string of convictions for various offences, including dishonesty - was taken to hospital but surgeons could not save his thumb. The trial will take place at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in September. Last night, O'Pray, who is in his 40s, could not be contacted for comment. A woman who now lives in his former council flat in Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, said: "The police are never away from the door looking for him. I had to write to them to say he no longer lives here." Bowhouse opened nine years ago and has been hit by a string of security and safety breaches. Remand prisoner David Martin, 20, was jailed in March for at least 24 years for killing another inmate in the jail's hospital wing last year. Prison wardens were slammed for not helping the victim while he was attacked. Last year, two senior officers were suspended - one for a relationship with a con and the other for allegedly taking bets on when an inmate with cancer would die. Two years ago, the prison was sued for £200,000 by former guard Ann Hinshelwood, who claimed she was so badly trained she locked inmates out of their cells by mistake. Seven men also committed suicide in the prison between 1999 and 2005. But an inspector recently praised Bowhouse for its accommodation and prisoners' treatment. The Government pay £130million over 25 years to have the prison run privately. It has been dubbed the Killie Hilton due to facilities such as a recording studio, gym, sports hall and football pitches. All cells have central heating and inmates are allowed their own DVD players and TVs.

April 27, 2008 Sunday Mail
A PRISONER was caught hiding a contraband mobile phone up his backside - when warders dialled the number. The cheeky inmate had no option but to surrender the handset when staff heard his ring tone. A jail insider said: "They had long suspected he had a phone but couldn't work out where he kept it. "They somehow got hold of the number and decided there was only one way of establishing if it was his. "When it rang he was bouncing off the walls and confessed." The incident at Kilmarnock jail last week comes amid revelations that Scotland's jails are flooded with illicit mobiles. Last year, 748 were found - up from 568 in 2006 and just 26 in 2002. Mobiles allow inmates to conduct crime unchecked from behind bars.

March 20, 2008 BBC
A man who murdered a fellow inmate in a "horrific" prison attack has been sentenced to at least 24 years in jail. David Martin was captured on CCTV in June 2007 as he kicked and stamped on Michael Cameron at Kilmarnock Prison. The judge said questions would be asked about why prison staff had failed to intervene, but Serco - which runs the private jail - defended its procedures. The sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh also covered Martin's killing of Gilbert Grierson in March 2006. Martin was sentenced to life after admitting murdering Mr Cameron and was told he would have to serve a minimum of 24 years before he could apply for parole. That sentence also encompasses his period of punishment for killing Mr Grierson. The 20-year-old had previously admitted culpable homicide by killing Mr Grierson, 46, with knives, scissors, a frying pan and a bottle and setting his home in Irvine on fire. His attack on Mr Cameron happened three months after Martin was remanded for killing Mr Grierson, who was his mother's former boyfriend. The incident, in Kilmarnock Prison's health wing, also saw Martin pour boiling water over his victim. Mr Cameron was on remand at the time, accused of rape. A prison officer witnessed the murder but did not intervene until re-enforcements arrived. Under prison protocol a total of three custody officers should restrain any one prisoner. Martin's lawyer, Bill McVicar, described his client as a damaged individual who had a life of breathtaking deprivation. But the judge, Lord Matthews, said Martin's background was not an excuse for his actions. "You are no stranger to violence and it will be difficult to forget the CCTV images showing what you did to Mr Cameron," he said. "I do not know what kind of warped morality made you think it was appropriate to act in that manner. "No doubt questions will be asked and I know they are already being asked about the fact that this happened in prison while staff were watching." 'Tragic occurrence' -- Serco spokesman Michael Clarke said: "There were four prisoners in the healthcare unit in a ward and there was one prison officer and one nurse in the immediate area when this horrific attack erupted. "He quite rightly called for re-enforcements before entering the ward to stop the incident and within a couple of minutes extra staff had arrived." Figures released last month by the Scottish Government showed a total of 225 prisoners had been assaulted at HMP Kilmarnock in the past seven years. Last year, 49 assaults took place - a record number.

February 22, 2008 BBC
The company running Scotland's only private jail will review the case of an inmate murdered by a fellow prisoner, but said there was no staff shortage. David Martin, 20, kicked and stamped on Michael Cameron and poured boiling water over his head, in an attack captured on CCTV. A prison officer and a nurse witnessed the attack, but the warder could not intervene until reinforcements arrived. Prison operator Serco told BBC Scotland that staff took the correct action. At the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday, Martin, on remand for murder at the time of the prison incident, admitted murdering Cameron. Another prisoner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was involved on the attack on Cameron on 16 June, 2006. The victim was on remand at the time of the attack, which took place in a four-bed cell in Kilmarnock Prison's health care wing. Serco spokesman Michael Clarke told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that Kilmarnock was a "safe" prison. "It is, however, holding some violent and unpredictable men," he said. Lessons learned -- "Although we do as much as we possibly can to minimise the chances of violence in the prison, given the nature of the people we are looking after there, we cannot guarantee that there will never be any violent incidents." Mr Clarke added: "You wouldn't have enough staff everywhere in the prison to deal with anything breaking out anywhere, because the prison is quiet at night and there was an unprovoked, unforeseeable attack in the health care unit. "Staff were called from other parts of the prison and arrived very quickly." The incident, he added, would be looked at again and assessment procedures on the supply of kettles to prisoners reviewed, to see if lessons could be learned.

February 21,  2008 BBC
A killer has admitted murdering a fellow inmate in a prison cell while on remand at HMP Kilmarnock. David Martin, 20, kicked and stamped on Michael Cameron and poured boiling water over his head, in an attack captured on CCTV. A prison officer and a nurse witnessed the attack. The warder could not intervene until reinforcements arrived. Martin was on remand for murder at the time but the Crown accepted his plea to a reduced charge of culpable homicide. Another prisoner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was involved on the attack on Mr Cameron on 16 June, 2006 in a four-bed cell in HMP Kilmarnock's health wing. Mr Cameron was on remand at the time. Prison protocol -- Paul McBride QC said prison officer Craig Brennan wanted to stop the attack but was ordered by a superior not to enter the cell until reinforcements arrived. Mr Brennan's boss was concerned for the safety of his staff. Prison protocol dictates three custody officers should restrain any one prisoner. Mr McBride said after Martin had been restrained he attacked Mr Cameron again. He said the accident and emergency doctor who attended to Mr Cameron at Crosshouse Hospital had rarely seen injuries of such severity. HMP Kilmarnock is Scotland's only private prison. Serco, which runs the prison, said: "Our condolences go to Mr Cameron's family for their tragic loss. "We pay tribute to the bravery of our staff who showed real courage in restraining Martin and providing medical assistance to Mr Cameron." Figures released on Wednesday by the Scottish government showed a total of 225 prisoners had been assaulted at HMP Kilmarnock in the past seven years. Last year, 49 assaults took place - a record number.

January 6, 2008 Scotland on Sunday
SCOTLAND’S flagship private jail has emerged as the most violent in the country in a damning report by the chief inspector of prisons. Kilmarnock - which has been vaunted by the government as a blueprint for modern prisons - had the highest number of attacks on warders and the most fireraising incidents of any jail in Scotland. The report by Clive Fairweather - which has been seen by Scotland on Sunday - also reveals that Kilmarnock has the worst staff turnover in the prison service, and that a culture of fear exists among warders. Fairweather’s safety and crime prevention report reveals that in 12 months up to March 1 this year, 21 fires had been started at Kilmarnock and there were 29 assaults on staff - the highest for both categories in the prison service. It shows that prisoner discipline is the worst in any Scottish jail and that violence among inmates is rife. The report, says: "The prison was operating 13 staff under complement at the time of inspection, which was adding considerable pressure to an already difficult staffing situation." Fairweather added: "Custody officers claimed that staffing levels could at times be dangerously low, especially in ‘A’ wing and at weekends. They said that two members of staff had been assaulted over the past year, while there had also been a large number of less serious incidents. "We sensed generally that staff seemed to be even more concerned about safety than they had been a year ago (and being under complement could also have contributed to this). Examples were cited where it was impossible to arrange relief cover for toilet breaks, meaning that prisoners were left unsupervised, except by CCTV, during these periods." The findings of last month’s two-day inspection - the third since Kilmarnock opened in 1999 - are certain to embarrass ministers, who three weeks ago announced controversial plans to build a further three private jails in Scotland. Two anonymous letters, written by concerned staff at the jail and passed to Scotland on Sunday, will also add pressure on the Scottish Executive to scrap the strategy. Critics of the programme say privately operated prisons are most likely to try to save money by cutting back on staff, despite the risk that poses to warders and prisoners alike. Commercial confidentiality means the operators of private jails do not have to reveal their staffing levels. One prison officer claims in his letter that "the only reason that staff have not been seriously injured is because of the goodwill of the prisoners". It goes on: "When staff object or refuse to open wings [containing 60-80 prisoners] alone, they are pressurised by management. There are quite a lot of staff relatively new to the prison and they feel that their jobs are under threat if they do not comply. "I know for a fact that there is not enough staff to monitor all the cameras. There are two members of staff in this area to answer two telephones, operate electronic doors, communicate with radio users and deal with all alarms. It is not surprising that staff have no time to monitor wings or worksheds. "Staff feel that there have never been enough staff in the prison but this has become worse than ever and we feel that urgent action has to be taken." The other prison officer writes: "Staff shortages occur on a day-to-day basis throughout the prison. Staff regularly phone in sick due to stress. Everything the prisoners request they receive - televisions, DVDs, Game Boys, guitars, music centres, ghetto blasters. The phrase ‘inmates taking over the asylum’ comes to mind. It is about time an investigation into Kilmarnock was carried out." The revelations have angered opposition politicians and the prison officers’ union, who have branded Kilmarnock an "explosion waiting to happen". Derek Turner, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers Association Scotland, said: "A lot of things mentioned as being of concern in last year’s report have not been addressed. When you look at the number of custody officers it is no wonder that there are so many assaults against them." Michael Matheson, the SNP’s deputy justice spokesman, said: "What is extremely concerning is that the situation at Kilmarnock, which was bad last year in terms of assaults among prisoners and against staff, appears to have deteriorated further. "Given the extremely serious nature of a number of these findings, [the jail’s operators] Premier Prisons have got a lot of explaining to do. I want to have answers quickly as to what they propose to do to address the problem. It appears to be a prison that is going from bad to worse." A spokesman for Premier Prisons said: "Clive Fairweather’s report makes it clear that Kilmarnock continues to excel in many areas. There have been major reductions in staff turnover. People will use Kilmarnock as a stick to beat the Scottish Executive over the head with regards to privatisation. But they are adopting this policy so someone at the top must think that it is a good idea."

December 13, 2007 BBC
A prisoner has been found dead in his cell at Scotland's private prison, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has said. Stewart McBlain, 67, was remanded in custody on Monday and taken to HM Prison Kilmarnock while awaiting trial. Prison officers found him dead in his cell on Wednesday. It is understood he hanged himself. A spokesman for the SPS said: "Police and next of kin have now been informed and a fatal accident inquiry will be held in due course."

September 5, 3007 The Herald
Low-paid prison officers employed in the private sector are more vulnerable to the temptation of corruption, according to Kenny MacAskill. The Justice Secretary told MSPs yesterday that is one of the reasons why he does not want to see private companies running prisons. He said the only way corporations can run prisons more cheaply than the public sector is by having lower wages for staff, compromising security and morale. Appearing before Holyrood's Justice Committee, the Justice Minister disclosed the wide gulf in prisoner-warder ratios between the public sector and Kilmarnock Prison, with 4500 staff for a prison population of more than 7000, while the Ayrshire prison has 200 staff for 550 inmates. Mr MacAskill said some of that was because of the design of old prisons, and that the only saving from the private sector provision of prisons is in the wage bill: "I believe the prison officers in Scotland do an excellent job in very difficult circumstance, and I think we have to reward and treat them fairly. "I believe any strategy seeking to reduce what they are paid would not only damage them, it would damage security in our prisons." His appearance before the committee came days after the minister promised a radical shift in prison policy.

August 19, 2007 Sunday Mail
TWO senior prison officers have been suspended - one over her relationship with a con and another for allegedly taking bets on when an inmate with cancer would die. HMP Bowhouse in Kilmarnock - Scotland's only private prison - has been rocked by investigations into Wendy Hopkins and colleague Robert Crawford. Hopkins was suspended amid claims of an "inappropriate relationship" with prisoner David Goldie after she allegedly secured a job at the jail to be close to him. Crawford was sent home after being accused of running a book on when an alleged sex offender with cancer would die. Both officers deny the claims. Jail bosses told Hopkins, 28, to leave last Friday following an anonymous tip-off about her alleged closeness to Goldie before gathering their own "intelligence". Claims include she smuggled a mobile phone into his cell. But the probe will centre round a tip-off she applied for the job to be close to Goldie after he was sent there to serve a sentence for assault. An insider said: "They were said to have been in a relationship before he was banged up. "It's really bizarre - nobody has ever heard of anything like it before. "The gossip is that they were an item and when he got banged up she got herself a job here so they could be together. "There is CCTV everywhere in here so it isn't exactly the sort of thing that could be kept hidden. "She has been accused of smuggling stuff into him but bosses are staying really tight-lipped about it." At her home near Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire, the prison officer admitted she knew Goldie but denied they were in a relationship. She said: "I have been suspended but I don't even know why. "All they said was that they have received intelligence about me. Some people in the prison don't like me. I don't know what I'm supposed to have done. I am waiting for an interview. I'm gobsmacked by this." Last night a spokesman for Serco, the private firm which operates the prison, said: "As soon as this came to our attention we took action. "If there was an inappropriate relationship then that cannot be tolerated and now the disciplinary process must run its course." Goldie was transferred from Bowhouse to Greenock Prison the day before Hopkins was suspended. Insiders claim the move was linked to the probe but Hopkins said: "He was transferred because he was fighting." Prison chiefs are also investigating claims that Hopkins' colleague Crawford ran a sick sweepstake on when a terminally ill inmate would die. The prisoner is a cancer sufferer on remand as he waits to be charged with sex offences. Crawford faces disciplinary action. A prison insider said: "As in every prison, all suspected sex offenders are reviled but this bloke is on his way out and it is being taken very seriously. "Crawford was told to leave a week past Friday. He's a popular guy and everyone was shocked. But if he was caught doing this it has to go down as a bit of a stupid error. "This does the profession no good at all." At his home in a converted stable block near Kilmarnock, Crawford declined to comment. A spokesman for HM Prison Kilmarnock Bowhouse said: "An employee has been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation. It is very disappointing." The prison is dubbed the "Killie Hilton" because of soft conditions. Inmates have been given Setanta SPL football games for free and there are DVD players, TVs and videos in every cell. There are also personal trainers, gyms and officers bring inmates papers and milk in the morning.

May 26, 2007 The Scotsman
THE new Nationalist government is studying radical plans to nationalise Scotland's only privately-run prison, The Scotsman can reveal. Kenny MacAskill, the cabinet secretary for justice, has asked Executive civil servants urgently to tell him what it would cost to bring the controversial jail into the public ownership. The plan, which has been confirmed by John Swinney, the cabinet secretary for finance, comes after moves by the new government to stop the building of two new private prisons in Scotland. Mr MacAskill is looking at ways of preventing the proposed 700-capacity prison on the site of the existing Low Moss jail, near Bishopbriggs, from being run by the private sector. He has asked officials how much it would cost to buy out the contract for the Addiewell jail being built in West Lothian. Now he and his colleagues have gone a step further, asking civil servants if they can abolish private jails altogether - a longstanding policy of the SNP. The confirmation of the policy came from Mr Swinney. When asked by The Scotsman whether the SNP would try to take Kilmarnock into the Scottish Prison Service, he replied: "We have to look at what options are available to us and that's what we will do." Asked whether they would reverse the policy of the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration which supported the use of Kilmarnock as value for money, he added: "That's where I get into the ground where I would have to unpick existing arrangements." Mr MacAskill was unavailable to comment. An Executive spokeswoman confirmed that the new ministers were against private prisons. She said: "The new government has set out its commitment to a publicly-owned and run prison service." Derek Turner, the assistant secretary of the Prison Officers' Association, said: "We welcome any attempt by the SNP government to bring private prisons into the public sector." Last night, Labour, which had backed private prisons when in government, refused to reiterate its support for the policy. Margaret Curran, Labour's justice spokeswoman, said only: "Any SNP plans to bring these services back under direct public control will be scrutinised in depth by Scottish Labour. "What will be vital is that they are delivering the best possible value for the public pound, without compromising standards of delivery."

September 18, 2006 The Scotsman
A PRISON officer at Scotland's only private jail has resigned after failing a drugs test. The 32-year-old was tested after being suspected of taking the prescription tranquiliser Benzodiazepine at Kilmarnock prison. A spokesman for Serco, the jail's operator, said he resigned before action was taken against him.

August 11, 2005 BBC
Nationalist MSP Alex Neil has called on the Scottish Executive to come clean over the cost of running Scotland's only privately operated prison. The executive has always refused to give information about the cost of Kilmarnock Prison, saying that it was commercially confidential. The Scottish National Party MSP's own research suggested it costs £17,602 per prisoner per year at Kilmarnock. But that cost did not include mortgage costs for the prison building, he said. Mr Neil said: "I am writing to the auditor general for Scotland to ask him to carry out a truly independent inquiry into the costs of Kilmarnock Prison and to compare these on a like-for-like basis with the costs of running our publicly-run prisons in Scotland. He added: "Furthermore the secrecy surrounding the contract to run Kilmarnock Prison needs to be ended.
"This is public money which is being wasted on a private prison, which as well as being costly to run has one of the worst performing records of any prison in Scotland."

August 6, 2005 Daily Record
A PRISON officer who claimed he was forced out of his job by smokers has lost his unfair dismissal case. Barry Cochrane said he had to resign after Kilmarnock Prison bosses failed to stop staff and inmates smoking in designated fume-free areas. The 34-year-old said prisoners and officers regularly ignored the no-smoking policy - and chiefs at the private jail turned a blind eye. The tribunal heard 97 per cent of the prison population smoke but are only allowed to light up in certain areas Cochrane, from Irvine, Ayrshire, said when he caught a prisoner smoking in the library with a woman warden, she told him: 'There are worse things a prisoner could do than smoking a cigarette.' Premier Prisons said they planned to put in an extractor system and ensure the no-smoking policy was more strictly enforced but Cochrane left before the grievance procedure ended.

June 30, 2006 The Scotsman
TWO teenage prisoners have been sent for trial charged with murdering an inmate at Scotland's only private jail. David Martin, 19, and Andrew Kiltie, 18, are accused of punching, kicking and stamping Michael Cameron, 21, to death at Kilmarnock prison on 16 June.

June 18, 2006 BBC
A 21-year-old prisoner has died following a disturbance at the privately-run Kilmarnock prison. Michael Cameron from North Ayrshire was taken to Crosshouse Hospital with serious injuries at about 2330 BST on Friday but died on Saturday morning. Two other prisoners, aged 18 and 19, have been arrested in connection with the death and are due to appear at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on Monday. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal's office.

June 18, 2006 Sunday Mail
A MURDER investigation was launched yesterday after a prisoner was beaten to death in Kilmarnock jail. The 21-year-old victim, a remand prisoner, was attacked in the hospital wing of the maximum security private prison late on Friday night. He was taken to Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, where he later died from multiple injuries. Two teenage prisoners were arrested yesterday and charged with his murder. Both are expected to appear at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court tomorrow on the murder charge. A police spokeswoman confirmed last night: "A 21-year-old man has died following an incident within HM Prison Kilmarnock. The prisoner sustained serious injuries following a disturbance at around 11.20pm on Friday. "A report has been sent to the Procurator Fiscal. "Two men aged 18 and 19 have been arrested and are presently detained in custody in connection with the death." Police said that the dead man would not be identified until relatives had been informed.

September 14, 2005 The Herald
RELIANCE, the private security firm criticised over a series of prisoner escapes, has lost the multi-million pound contract for tagging offenders in Scotland. The initial £14m deal was awarded to Reliance Monitoring in January 2002 before being extended for a further 12 months, worth £8m, earlier this year. However, Serco, the com-pany which runs Scotland's only private prison, has now been awarded preferred bidder status for the tender to operate electronic monitoring on teenage and adult offenders from next April until 2011. The Scottish Executive is expected to make an official announcement next month. Critics believe the monitoring firm lost favour after its sister company, Reliance Custodial Services, took over prisoner escort responsibilities in April 2004. Just days into the seven-year £126m contract's roll-out, the firm allowed a number of prisoners to escape, including James McCormick, a convicted killer who was aged 17. The decision to award the contract to Serco is also expected to prove controversial. Serco owns Premier Custodial Services, the firm which runs Kilmarnock prison, and was rebuked earlier this year following claims of staff shortages and negligence. A BBC reporter found evidence that warders failed to carry out suicide checks, despite six suicides at the jail in a five-year period. The programme also claimed that officers failed to report offences, including heroin use, which would attract a fine, to protect the income of the jail's operator. The screening of Prison Undercover: The Real Story led to three staff being removed from their duties and an internal investigation by Premier. A fatal accident inquiry earlier this year into the suicide of an inmate at the prison in 2002 was highly critical of failures to monitor him. Premier said a number of improvements had already been introduced.

August 11, 2005 BBC
Nationalist MSP Alex Neil has called on the Scottish Executive to come clean over the cost of running Scotland's only privately operated prison. The executive has always refused to give information about the cost of Kilmarnock Prison, saying that it was commercially confidential. The Scottish National Party MSP's own research suggested it costs £17,602 per prisoner per year at Kilmarnock. But that cost did not include mortgage costs for the prison building, he said. Mr Neil said: "I am writing to the auditor general for Scotland to ask him to carry out a truly independent inquiry into the costs of Kilmarnock Prison and to compare these on a like-for-like basis with the costs of running our publicly-run prisons in Scotland. He added: "Furthermore the secrecy surrounding the contract to run Kilmarnock Prison needs to be ended.
"This is public money which is being wasted on a private prison, which as well as being costly to run has one of the worst performing records of any prison in Scotland."

August 6, 2005 Daily Record
A PRISON officer who claimed he was forced out of his job by smokers has lost his unfair dismissal case. Barry Cochrane said he had to resign after Kilmarnock Prison bosses failed to stop staff and inmates smoking in designated fume-free areas. The 34-year-old said prisoners and officers regularly ignored the no-smoking policy - and chiefs at the private jail turned a blind eye. The tribunal heard 97 per cent of the prison population smoke but are only allowed to light up in certain areas Cochrane, from Irvine, Ayrshire, said when he caught a prisoner smoking in the library with a woman warden, she told him: 'There are worse things a prisoner could do than smoking a cigarette.' Premier Prisons said they planned to put in an extractor system and ensure the no-smoking policy was more strictly enforced but Cochrane left before the grievance procedure ended.

August 11, 2005 BBC
Nationalist MSP Alex Neil has called on the Scottish Executive to come clean over the cost of running Scotland's only privately operated prison. The executive has always refused to give information about the cost of Kilmarnock Prison, saying that it was commercially confidential. The Scottish National Party MSP's own research suggested it costs £17,602 per prisoner per year at Kilmarnock. But that cost did not include mortgage costs for the prison building, he said. Mr Neil said: "I am writing to the auditor general for Scotland to ask him to carry out a truly independent inquiry into the costs of Kilmarnock Prison and to compare these on a like-for-like basis with the costs of running our publicly-run prisons in Scotland. He added: "Furthermore the secrecy surrounding the contract to run Kilmarnock Prison needs to be ended.
"This is public money which is being wasted on a private prison, which as well as being costly to run has one of the worst performing records of any prison in Scotland."

August 6, 2005 Daily Record
A PRISON officer who claimed he was forced out of his job by smokers has lost his unfair dismissal case. Barry Cochrane said he had to resign after Kilmarnock Prison bosses failed to stop staff and inmates smoking in designated fume-free areas. The 34-year-old said prisoners and officers regularly ignored the no-smoking policy - and chiefs at the private jail turned a blind eye. The tribunal heard 97 per cent of the prison population smoke but are only allowed to light up in certain areas Cochrane, from Irvine, Ayrshire, said when he caught a prisoner smoking in the library with a woman warden, she told him: 'There are worse things a prisoner could do than smoking a cigarette.' Premier Prisons said they planned to put in an extractor system and ensure the no-smoking policy was more strictly enforced but Cochrane left before the grievance procedure ended.

July 21, 2005 Daily Record
A PRISON officer claims he was forced to quit his job because he was constantly subjected to passive smoking.  Barry Cochrane, 34, said bosses at Kilmarnock Prison failed to enforce their smoking policy, leaving him exposed to tobacco fumes.  He claimed his health suffered and he had no option but to walk out.  Mr Cochrane is now suing Scotland's only private prison, claiming constructive and unfair dismissal.  A tribunal in Glasgow yesterday heard that 97 per cent of inmates smoked, but it was only allowed in certain parts of the Ayrshire jail.  Mr Cochrane, from Irvine, claimed prisoners often lit up elsewhere, with staff turning a blind eye. He also said other officers defied the rules.  Mr Cochrane added: 'I got headaches, sore eyes, stress due to grief from prisoners.

May 21, 2005 BBC
A prison guard suspended over allegations that he disguised himself as an inmate to try to get methadone has resigned. The 22-year-old was working at Kilmarnock Prison in Ayrshire, Scotland's only private jail. He is alleged to have gone with a group of prisoners who were due to receive the heroin substitute. Jail operators Premier Custodial Services said inquiries into the incident would continue. It is understood the officer was stopped by a nurse before he reached the head of the queue and claimed his actions had been intended as a joke. He was immediately suspended from duty. Kilmarnock Prison was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when three members of staff were removed from normal duties after an undercover BBC investigation claimed that staff ignored heroin abuse and failed to monitor vulnerable inmates.

May 20, 2005 BBC
A guard has been suspended after claims that he disguised himself as a prisoner and joined a queue for methadone at Scotland's private prison. He is alleged to have gone with a group of prisoners who were due to receive the heroin substitute at Kilmarnock Prison in Ayrshire. The 22-year-old was stopped before he reached the head of the queue. He claimed his actions had been intended as a joke but was immediately suspended from duty. A spokesman for the operators, Premier Custodial Services, confirmed that a member of staff had been suspended following "allegations of a breach of disciplinary procedure". Kilmarnock Prison was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when three members of staff were removed from normal duties after claims of malpractice in an undercover BBC investigation.
Prison chiefs launched an inquiry into allegations that staff ignored heroin abuse and failed to monitor vulnerable inmates despite six suicides at the jail in the past five years.

May 1, 2005 Sunday Mail
A PRISONER has won £1500 compensation from jail bosses - for slicing his thumb in a prison workshop. Now Andrew Halliday, 48, is suing them again - for letting him fall out of his bunk bed. Halliday, 48, who is blind in one eye, is complaining that they made him sleep in a top bunk.  Controversial £130million Kilmarnock Prison came under fire after a BBC documentary led to three staff being removed from duty. The report said prison officers missed suicide checks on vulnerable inmates. Seven men have killed themselves at the prison since 1999.

April 26, 2005 Evening Times
CHILDREN are regularly held in Scotland's only private jail, a report revealed today. Last year five youngsters aged 15 spent up to a week in Kilmarnock Prison, although not at the same time. Andrew McLellan, Chief Inspector of Prisons, who published the report, said there were good reasons to believe children should not be kept in adult jails. He added: "Whenever I find children under 16 in a prison I condemn it. "There is no reason to believe they are not treated properly, but there are very good reasons to believe children should not be in prison. Prison is no place for a child." Last year Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson commissioned research to investigate the problem and the Executive has vowed to increase the number of secure unit places by 40. The report also found that Kilmarnock, which is run by Premier Prisons and has had a controversial history since it opened in 1999, had lower staffing levels and a higher turnover of officers than Scottish Prison Service jails. It also noted educational opportunities were "impoverished" and criticised the standard of food. The lack of proper provision for basic education for adult inmates was very serious, said Mr McLellan and, despite a budget considerably greater than that in SPS prisons, the food was not good. Staffing at the jail was "considerably less than at other large jails". The report said: "Kilmarnock has a total number of staff which is 80 to 120 less than the total number of staff at Edinburgh or Perth prisons, which are frequently compared to Kilmarnock in terms of size and function."

April 26, 2005 BBC
Management at Kilmarnock Prison should take "urgent steps" to provide better numeracy and literacy courses for inmates, a report has said.  The chief inspector of prisons, Dr Andrew McLellan, also said that staffing at Scotland's only private jail remained a matter of concern.  Last month three members of staff at the Ayrshire prison, which is run by Premier Custodial Services, were removed from normal duties after claims of malpractice in an undercover BBC investigation. Prison chiefs launched an inquiry into allegations that staff turned a blind eye to heroin abuse and failed to monitor vulnerable inmates despite six suicides at the jail in the past five years. Premier Prison Services also hit the headlines recently after it was blamed at a fatal accident inquiry for the suicide of a vulnerable prisoner in the jail.  Dr McLellan also expressed concern about the "high proportion" of inexperienced employees. On the issue of educating offenders, Dr McLellan said: "The provision of learning is impoverished - the lack of proper provision for basic education in reading, writing and counting is very serious." The current failure to deliver basic skills of numeracy and literacy during the day should be addressed as a "matter of urgency". The BBC documentary filmed officers turning a blind eye to drugs and alcohol use. It also found some prisoners on suicide watch were not checked regularly. The Prison Officers Association Scotland, which is not recognised at Kilmarnock, said the BBC's Real Story documentary "appeared to uncover significant failings" at the jail. Last month a sheriff ruled that James Barclay, 30, was able to hang himself at Kilmarnock Prison because of the failure of guards to keep watch on the "at risk" inmate. The remand prisoner died on 11 January, 2002, at Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, after he was found hanging in his cell the previous day.

April 24, 2005 Sunday Herald
CALLS for Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons to resign have been made ahead of the long-awaited publication of a report into Kilmarnock jail. Senior prison sources have told the Sunday Herald that the inspection report by Dr Andrew McLellan will “largely praise” HMP Bowhouse, the country’s only private prison, despite allegations that staff have been falsifying documents to show that suicide watches had been carried out when they had not. The allegations were raised in an undercover BBC documentary last month that led to three staff being removed from duty and prompted an investigation by the jail’s operator, Premier Custodial Services. In addition to the claims that warders failed to carry out suicide checks, despite six suicides at the jail in five years, the programme alleged that staff refused to report offences which would attract a fine for Premier. McLellan, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, inspected the prison in October last year, the week before the BBC began filming . But despite growing pressure on him to re-inspect the prison and investigate the allegations, McLellan refused to do so. Alex Neil, the nationalist MSP for Central Scotland, who called for a police investigation after the BBC programme was screened, condemned McLellan’s refusal to go back into the jail and the decision to release the report inside Kilmarnock prison. He said: “The chief inspector of prisons is in danger of becoming a cheerleader for Premier, rather than an independent entity. “If this report is glowing, it will give evidence of a co- ordinated conspiracy to hide the facts about Kilmarnock prison. McLellan has already shown that he is not up to the job. He sat on this report for weeks and should resign.”

March 24, 2005 Scotsman
A CONVICTED murderer claimed to a court yesterday that the carrying of knives by inmates of Scotland’s only private jail was "commonplace". James O’Rourke, 34, made the allegation as he was jailed for eight years for stabbing a senior manager at Kilmarnock Prison and, in a separate incident, wounding a Reliance security guard in a court. Gary Allan, O’Rourke’s counsel, told the judge, Lady Paton, that severe criticisms had been levelled recently at Kilmarnock Prison’s management, adding: "The instructions I have is that the place is a shambles and that the carrying of knives among prisoners is commonplace." The High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday that in June last year, when O’Rourke was being held in Kilmarnock Prison, he assaulted Michael Guy, the assistant prison director, and stabbed him with a piece of metal. It was said that O’Rourke had blamed Mr Guy for the withdrawal of privileges and for being kept in solitary confinement. The attack on Allan Dickson, a Reliance officer, took place on 23 November in Parliament House, Edinburgh, where the Court of Criminal Appeal was hearing an appeal by O’Rourke against his murder conviction. It was ultimately rejected. Judge Paton said she took into account that O’Rourke had pleaded guilty to the two assaults, but added: "Officers carrying out duties in connection with the administration of justice are entitled to the protection of the courts." On Tuesday, the management of Kilmarnock Prison was criticised by a sheriff at an inquiry into the death of an inmate who hanged himself in his cell. Earlier this month, a BBC documentary alleged that staff at the prison ignored drug abuse and failed to monitor vulnerable inmates.

March 23, 2005 Daily Record
A SHERIFF yesterday slammed Scotland's only private prison after an inmate hanged himself while on suicide watch. James Barclay, 30, was found dying in his cell at Kilmarnock Prison in January 2002. Kilmarnock sheriff Colin McKay's fatal accident inquiry report blamed the death on the officers who were on duty - and owners Premier Prison Services. He said rules for prisoners on suicide watch were 'routinely ignored' and 'there were no systems in place to alert senior management to these failures'. Sheriff McKay added: 'When the failures were patent, management ignored them. 'The prison guards simply failed to comply with a specific requirement of their shift.' The two guards blamed, Kevin Beck and Gordon Kelso, have since been sacked. Last night, SNP MSP Alex Neil said: 'The Scottish Prison Service should immediately bring the jail under direct control.'

March 20, 2005 Sunday Herald
THE crisis surrounding Kilmarnock Prison deepened last night after demands were made for a police investigation into the running of Scotland’s only private jail. Nationalist MSP Alex Neil, a fierce critic of the prison since it opened in 1999, called for the chief constable of Strathclyde police, Willie Rae, to order an investigation into allegations raised earlier this month in an undercover BBC documentary. The allegations included drug trafficking, drug abuse and the falsifying of information relating to suicide watches. Neil has written to Rae demanding to know what action will be taken “with a view to bringing the perpetrators of any crime within Kilmarnock Prison to justice”. He is also to submit a parliamentary question this week to Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, Scotland’s senior law officer, to request his assistance in launching a criminal investigation into claims that prison staff tampered with jail records showing they had been carrying out suicide watches when they had not. Neil, SNP MSP for Central Scotland, said: “Falsifying records on suicide watch is a criminal offence. I want the police to investigate that and bring those responsible of wrongdoing to justice. Whoever authorised the falsifying of records has committed a criminal offence in my view.” A BBC reporter found evidence that warders failed to carry out suicide checks , despite six suicides at the jail in five years. The programme also claimed that officers failed to report offences – including heroin use – which would attract a fine, to protect the income of the jail’s operator, Premier Custodial Services.

March 16, 2005 Scotsman
CALLS for the immediate suspension of a private firm’s contract to run Kilmarnock prison were rejected by Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister, yesterday. Three members of staff have been removed from normal duties after allegations of malpractice in an undercover BBC report. Prison chiefs have launched an inquiry into claims that staff at Scotland’s only private jail turned a blind eye to heroin abuse and failed to monitor vulnerable inmates - despite six suicides there in the past five years. Alex Neil, an SNP MSP for Central Scotland, called for the immediate suspension of Premier Custodial Services’ contract to run the jail. "The BBC documentary totally vindicates all the allegations I have been making for six years that the management of this prison is disastrous," he said. Kenny MacAskill, the SNP’s justice spokesman, said the documentary dealt a serious blow to Executive plans for at least one more private prison. "They should bring all of our prison service back into public control," he said. The BBC journalist Steve Allen, who worked as a prison officer at the jail, said he filmed evidence of officers falsifying paperwork to show suicide watches had been undertaken when they had not. Last night Phil Edwards, the chief operating officer for Premier Custodial Group, admitted the footage was "disturbing" and showed "unacceptable behaviour" by prison guards. But speaking on BBC Scotland’s Newsnight Scotland he insisted the company encourages all prison guards to report drug use.

March 14, 2005 Scotsman
LOTHIANS MSP Fiona Hyslop today called for plans to create a privately built and run prison in West Lothian to be scrapped following the shocking revelations of a TV documentary. Ms Hyslop said the Scottish Executive should abandon proposals for the controversial prison near Addiewell after a BBC programme last week highlighted a series of failures at a private Ayrshire facility. The 700-cell prison in the Lothians is expected to be completed by 2007 at a cost of £65 million. An undercover reporter for Real Story filmed officers at Kilmarnock allegedly turning a blind eye to the use of drugs and alcohol. The programme also claimed that warders failed to carry out suicide checks and cell searches - despite six suicides in the past five years. Scottish Prison Service spokesman Tom Fox voiced "real concerns" about the allegations, while the Prison Officers’ Association said it had been making similar accusations since Scotland’s only privately-run jail opened. Ms Hyslop said: "Private prisons fail the public, fail the officers and fail the prisoners who are at risk of self harm.
"I hope the Executive takes on board the revelations and takes steps to rule out the private sector managing at the prison in Addiewell."

March 13, 2005 Scotsman
THE former chief inspector of prisons has launched a blistering attack on ministers, accusing them of failing to take action to prevent suicides in Scotland’s only private jail. Clive Fairweather said he was "shocked" the Scottish Executive had not ordered inspectors into Kilmarnock Prison after a BBC documentary alleged that staff failed to carry out suicide watches. Two years ago, as a direct result of a television programme which revealed young offenders taking drugs on the controversial Airborne Initiative, the Executive sent a social work inspection team into the boot camp immediately. A year later it closed Airborne down. Premier Custodial Group, which runs Kilmarnock Prison, has launched an internal investigation but Fairweather said that was insufficient. Fairweather, who lost his job as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland after criticising the country’s jails, said: " If a documentary like this indicates that suicide watches are being falsified, there must surely be immediate action by the authorities, or do ministers not feel that there’s any urgency because it’s only prisoners’ lives?" Fairweather singled out justice minister Cathy Jamieson and her deputy, Hugh Henry, for criticism. An Executive spokeswoman said the current prisons inspector, Dr Andrew McLellan, carried out an inspection at Kilmarnock just days before the BBC investigation began. She added: "He takes the allegations seriously but he thinks the right thing to do is complete and publish his report in the spring."

March 10, 2005 IRR News
Campaign groups calling for a public inquiry into the treatment of immigration detainees have revealed that thirty-five cases of alleged assault have been referred to solicitors. The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF), and the Campaign To Stop Arbitrary Detentions at Yarl's Wood (SADY) have revealed details of over thirty-five cases referred to four solicitors' firms (Birnberg Peirce & Co, Hickman & Rose, Christian Khan, Harrison Bundey). Most of the cases involve allegations of abuse at the airport or in transit to the airport. In at least six of the thirty-five cases, the detainee was eventually removed. Two female victims of these 'successful' removals say they needed hospital treatment in their country of origin, as a result of injuries sustained in the deportation process. At a press conference held outside the Home Office on the day after the BBC broadcast Asylum Undercover (a disturbing television programme showing detention custody officers abusing detainees and boasting about assaults) NCADC, CARF and SADY called for a full public inquiry into the conditions of immigration detention in the UK. The Asylum Undercover investigation centred on Oakington Reception Centre and 'in-country escorting' of detainees, exposing the abuse of asylum seekers behind the closed doors of the immigration 'detention estate'. In one of the most shocking parts of the programme, a custody officer described 'taping up' the skirt of an obviously scared female asylum seeker who was defecating through fear during her deportation. (The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that refusal to allow a detainee who has soiled herself to change her clothes is inhuman and degrading treatment) Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), formerly Group 4, which runs Oakington Reception Centre, commented in a press release after the programme that there was 'shock and dismay throughout our company at the scenes of racist and abusive language and behaviour by some staff at Oakington detention centre and in-country escorting'. The company said it was now carrying out a full investigation with the assistance of a team of former senior police officers. It was also conducting a review of management and supervisory systems, recruitment, vetting, training and monitoring. 'If there are systemic or individual failings, they will be addressed,' it stated. 'Furthermore, if these investigations reveal that any offence has been committed by any of our staff, the police will be notified.' GSL and Group 4 have come under the spot-light before. In 1998, during the trial of nine men following a disturbance, detention officers at Campsfield (then run by Group 4) were found to have lied and destroyed property at the centre and then blamed detainees. Group 4 also ran Yarl's Wood Removal Centre, Bedford, which, in February 2002, was burnt down during a disturbance triggered by the restraint of a Nigerian female detainee. And, in December 2003, Yarl's Wood was the subject of a Daily Mirror report which exposed racism and abuse at the centre. In the subsequent inquiry into the Daily Mirror allegations, Prisons Ombudsman Stephen Shaw said 'these were startling and hugely worrying allegations. If true, they would have called into question not just the management of Yarl's Wood ... but the fitness of the contractor (GSL) to run any removal centre ... in this country'. He found that most of the things alleged in the article had happened, but decided that there was 'not a culture of abuse, racism and violence'. However he did recommend that the Home Office investigate the allegations about mistreatment of detainees.
Emma Ginn, of NCADC, told IRR News: 'Stephen Shaw is now conducting a third inquiry into a GSL run removal/reception centre. When will the government learn? GSL appears to have retained its contracts to run Yarl's Wood, Tinsley House, Campsfield House, and Oakington. It was awarded a huge contract, of undisclosed value, to design, build and manage a 750-bed Accommodation Centre at Bicester, just thirty days after publication of the inquiry into the Mirror allegations. GSL was also a partner in the design and build of Yarl's Wood, which was described in the Prison Ombudsman inquiry into the fire, as "astonishingly flimsy" and "not fit for the purpose". This does not fill us with great confidence.'

March 10, 2005 The Herald
MINISTERS were urged last night to ban the private sector from staffing Scottish prisons after a BBC documentary claimed that the Premier group's running of Kilmarnock jail amounted to a catalogue of neglect. Premier, which has managed Scotland's only private prison to date since 1999, confirmed yesterday that it also wanted to build and run a new 700-cell jail at Low Moss, near Kirkintilloch. However, after secret filming at Kilmarnock suggested over-stretched staff were ignoring heroin use and failing to carry out suicide watches, the SNP said Premier's 25-year deal there should be terminated and future work kept in the public sector. Kenny MacAskill, SNP justice spokesman, said: "Rather than follow a failed Tory policy, the Scottish Executive should bring all of our prison service back into public control now. Public safety is too important an issue to be at the whim of private profit." Premier's per capita spending on prisoners is less than half that of the public sector, mainly because of the heavy use of electronic security. The row renewed the pressure on Cathy Jamieson, justice minister, who was under attack for much of last year over Reliance's botched start to the privatised prisoner escort service. According to the documentary, Prison Undercover – the Real Story, staff at Kilmarnock were put in charge of large numbers of violent prisoners with little training or back-up. They were also said to have ignored offences which meant fines for Premier and could have jeopardised pay rises; turned a blind eye to drug abuse to curry favour with inmates; and failed to conduct suicide watches, despite six suicides in five years. The prison's director also failed to ask for details when told that staff had falsified suicide watch logs.

March 9, 2005 Scotsman
THREE prison officers have been suspended from normal duties at Scotland’s only private prison amid allegations that staff failed to carry out suicide watches despite seven deaths in the last six years , it emerged last night. A BBC investigation, Prison Undercover: The Real Story, into Kilmarnock prison also claimed officers turned a blind eye to drug taking, and allowed prisoners wide screen satellite televisions and Playstations in their cells. The programme to be aired tonight shows staff allegedly falsifying suicide watch forms in the prison when checks have been missed. The staff claim checks are skipped because of staffing shortages. Relatives of those who died were said to be "horrified" at the evidence. Myra Mulholland, the sister of one inmate who has died there in the last six years, told the BBC: "It is not just a record you are falsifying, it is people’s lives you are playing with, people who could die as a result of this." Since opening six years ago seven prisoners have killed themselves. Two Premier officers were sacked in 2002 after checks were missed and a prisoner found hanged. Premier Custodial Group, the company running the prison, was unavailable for comment last night. In a statement issued to the BBC, the firm said Kilmarnock was a "well run and safe" prison where staff and prisoner relations were good. "Premier treats any alleged breach of procedure very seriously," the statement said.

March 5, 2005 Sunday Mail
A BBC reporter posing as a prison officer ended up battling convicts in a jail riot. Using the name Steve Allen and false references he landed a job at Scotland's only private prison at Kilmarnock. The reporter from BBC's Real Story worked at the jail for three months and gathered hundreds of hours of film from secret cameras. Prison officers are allegedly heard making brutal comments about prisoners who have killed themselves and those on suicide watch. The prison has been repeatedly rapped at recent fatal accident inquiries into suicides. In the film, warders are allegedly heard encouraging violence and falsifying logs. The one-hour documentary, to be shown on BBC1 at 9pm on Wednesday, is expected to reveal huge security breaches and poor conditions for staff and inmates. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We can confirm that our reporter was involved in a riot and he fulfilled his duties as a prison officer.' SNP shadow justice minister Kenny McAskill demanded a full public inquiry into the £130million privatised prison run by Premier Security. And Derek Turner, of the Scottish Prison Officers Association, said: 'A public inquiry into this place is long overdue.' Premier said: 'We have commenced an investigation based on some of allegations already raised by the BBC.'

January 14, 2005 Ayrshire.co.uk
A 40-year-old man has been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged indecent assault on a teenager inside Kilmarnock Prison. It’s understood that the 17-year-old ‘victim’, who has learning difficulties, was allegedly attacked in the private prison’s medical wing.

January 9, 2005 Sunday Mail
 CLAIMS that a teenager with learning difficulties was raped in Scotland's private prison are being investigated. The 17-year-old was allegedly grabbed, gagged and attacked in the medical wing of Kilmarnock Prison last month. A police spokeswoman said: 'A 40-year-old man is the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged indecent assault on a 17-year-old at Kilmarnock Prison.' Insiders say prisoner rape is rife among drug dealers in the jail, where murderers, rapists and paedophiles have CD players and colour TVs in their cells. There have been other attacks at the jail. Two warders were charged last month for sexually assaulting a female member of staff. Last year two managers were sacked - one for sexual harassment of a female member of staff, the other for theft. And a female tutor was sacked for allegedly having an 'inappropriate relationship' with a prisoner.

December 12, 2004 Sunday Mail
TWO warders at Scotland's only private prison have been suspended after being accused of sex offences against a female colleague. Stephen Blake, 35, and Jim Hume, 43, who were in charge of the jail workshop, were escorted from Kilmarnock Prison. It is alleged that the pair were involved in an incident on November 24 at the controversial £130million PFI prison run by Premier Security Services. It is understood a distressed female staff member made a complaint and called police. It is the latest controversy at the jail, where cons get a number of controversial 'perks'. There have also been a number of dismissals.

December 10, 2004 Evening Times
PRISON chiefs were today probing a riot at Scotland's only private jail last night when up to 40 inmates went on the rampage.  Several small fires were lit, a communal room was destroyed and attempts were made to flood the prison in Kilmarnock during the incident. Thousands of pounds of damage is thought to have been caused after electrical equipment, including televisions, were smashed. Rebel prisoners only failed to flood the jail after frantic staff switched off water supplies. The riot happened when prisoners refused to return to their cells in E wing, which houses short-term inmates who are serving less than four years for repeat offences such as theft and minor assaults.  The riot happened six months after five prisoners appeared in court charged with causing a major disturbance during which an officer was injured.

November 28, 2004 Sunday Mail
A PROBE is underway at Scotland's only private prison after two staff were suspended. Two Kilmarnock jail workshop employees are being investigated by police and prison chiefs following an incident of 'inappropriate behaviour'. A spokesman for Premier Prison Services confirmed two staff were suspended on Friday afternoon following a 'one-off incident' but denied claims it was drugs-related.

November 19, 2004 IC Ayshire
A SHERIFF has condemned Scotland's only private jail for breaches of rules and staff shortages after the suicide of a vulnerable prisoner. Sheriff Thomas Croan said it was the “good fortune” of an assistant director at Kilmarnock Prison that she has escaped personal responsibility for Gordon Mulholland's death. He also criticised the failure to keep Mr Mulholland’s personal records with him, which would have alerted staff that he was on suicide watch. He had already vowed to kill himself, saying it “only took a couple of minutes”. Ironically, the only individual to be praised by Sheriff Croan was a prisoner who cut down his fellow inmate’s hanging body and tried to revive him, as the warder who falsely claimed to have checked on him stood by in hysterics. Erica Prueffer, who was then assistant director of health care at Kilmarnock Prison, sent him to the prison wing instead of returning him to the health centre where he had been kept under observation, despite rules stating a case conference should have been held first.
Prison officer Donna McNeill admitted falsifying a log by claiming she made a half-hourly check on Mr Mulholland at around the time he hanged himself after being left alone for about an hour. Ms McNeil, who underwent refresher training two weeks before the death, was in hysterics and made no attempt to revive Mr Mulholland. She was eventually asked to leave while others, including prisoner Brian Rees, took over.

October 4, 2004 Daily Record
VITAL security doors at Scotland's only private prison don't shut properly, the Record can reveal. Sliding doors used to seal wings at Kilmarnock jail have had to be filed down after wardens had trouble locking them. Bosses have called in engineers to fix the problem, but work won't start until next year. A jail insider said yesterday: 'To think we can't lock security doors properly is ridiculous. We've got some of the worst criminals in Scotland here.'
The source blamed subsidence at the £130million prison for making some wing doors jam instead of closing fully. Stevenson claimed: 'This is a botched job from when the prison was built - as with so many PFI-funded projects.' The American company who run the jail, Premier Prison Services, have hired structural engineers to find away to repair the damage and prevent more problems. Two years ago, it emerged that the prison had received£700,000 in subsidies from the taxpayer while Premier Prison Services were making huge profits. Kilmarnock also has the worst discipline record of all Scots jails. There were 3634 recorded offences and serious rule infringements at the prison in 2001.The next worst jail, Perth, had 1475.

October 3, 2004 Sunday Mail
A GREEDY prison warder has been forced to quit after being caught nicking dozens of chocolate bars from the cons' subsidised tuck shop. Chocoholic Colin Duff, 55, was rumbled after being captured on CCTV cameras installed after bosses launched a probe into missing treats such as Mars Bars.
Shamed Duff resigned after being called in by bosses at troubled Kilmarnock Prison. An insider at the jail - dubbed the Killie Hilton because of the cushy lifestyle led by prisoners - said: 'We knew the prison was full of thieves but we thought they were behind bars.' Last night, at his home in Crosshouse, Ayrshire, Duff said: 'I don't want to talk about it. I have nothing to say.' Two weeks ago, the Sunday Mail revealed two warders were under investigation over prisoners' jewellery that had gone missing. A probe is under way over an alleged £20,000 theft of prisoners' effects.

September 24, 2004 IC Ayrshire
AN INMATE at Kilmarnock Prison told Bowhouse staff he knew that he was going to die, an inquiry heard last week. Stuart Williams, 44, was already under medical supervision when he was found unconscious in his cell just three days into a five month sentence. He was taken by ambulance to Crosshouse Hospital where doctors were unable to save him. He died from fluid in the lungs and toxic effects of the drug dihydrocodeine, although it emerged he already had a heart condition.

September 18, 2004 Sunday Mail
SCOTLAND'S only private jail is fined £17,000 every time a prisoner is violent or is caught with drugs. The discovery of a mobile phone attracts an £8000 fine. But critics fear the penalties imposed on Premier Security Services, who manage Kilmarnock Jail, may stop them exposing rule-breaking. Last week, the Sunday Mail revealed the prison has been dubbed the 'Killie Hilton' as prisoners get pay-per-view Setanta TV and newspapers and milk is delivered to cells. West of Scotland MSP Bruce McFee warned: 'The operators may be discouraged from being zealous over drugs and weapons because of restrictions in their contract.' Premier, who make £1million a year from the jail, said: 'We have a requirement to report a multitude of activities and are diligent in ensuring this is done.'


September 12, 2004 Sunday Mail
Inmates at Scotland's only private prison have been given free Setanta TV.  Ordinary punters who want to watch live Scottish Premier League football on the satellite channel pay £450 a year. But at cushy Kilmarnock Prison - dubbed the Killie Hilton - inmates can watch for free in one of eight viewing suites. The deal was thrashed out at a meeting of the Prisoner Information and Activities Committee between managers and inmates.  Cons were told they could get free milk and a free paper delivered to their cells by warders each morning. A senior officer told the Sunday Mail: 'If people knew what goes on in here they would be queuing up to get in. What goes on in here really is an insult to law-abiding Scots. We're supposed to quietly place the milk and papers at the sink areas for when they get up for their breakfast and we're not allowed to wake them up.'  The prison pays around £1000 a month for Setanta.  The senior officer said: 'It's sickening to think hardened criminals are treated better than war heroes and pensioners who can't even afford to properly heat their homes, never mind subscribe to Setanta.  'There aren't many warders who can afford Setanta in their own homes either.' Managers from Premier Prison Services, who run the jail, hold meetings with inmates about conditions every week.  Critics believe Premier have given too many rights to prisoners because they want to avoid the huge Government fines imposed on them if there are riots.  According to insiders, an internal investigation is underway over the alleged disappearance of £30,000 worth of prisoners' jewellery and personal effects following the sacking of two warders.


KILMARNOCK'S private prison - the only one in Scotland - has had a troubled and violent history since it opened in 1999.  In the last two years alone there has been a constant stream of reports of turmoil at the jail.  July 2004 - Raymond Talent, 47, of Rutherglen, near Glasgow, choked to death on his vomit in the prison.  June 2004 - Killer James O'Rourke stabbed a prison boss in the stomach.  February 2004 - Claims are made that sex offenders in the jail's H-block are swapping child porn on CDs.  January 2004 - Inmates go berserk and smash up their cells, forcing warders to call in negotiators to restore calm.  January 2003 - Prisoners set fire to a pool table and refuse to return to their cells during a protest.  January 2003 - Four warders are hospitalised after an attack by a convict.  March 2002 - Prisoner David Ballantyne, 22, attacks another inmate with a hammer in a vicious assault.  (The Mirror, August 11, 2004)

Two ex-prison officers from Scotland's only private jail have been sentenced for planting heroin on an inmate.  David Allen, 44, of East Kilbride, a former supervisor at Kilmarnock Prison, was jailed for two years for attempting to pervert the course of justice.  He was sentenced alongside John Robertson, 26, of Auhinleck, Ayrshire, who received 300 hours' community service for helping to plant the drugs.  (BBC, August 10, 2004)

A SHERIFF has condemned Scotland's only private prison over gaps in the medical records of a prisoner found dead in his cell.  In his written report following a fatal accident inquiry in Kilmarnock, Sheriff Seith Ireland said there should be a system to ensure the accuracy of records was audited so that errors could be identified.  Raymond Talent, 47,of Rutherglen, near Glasgow, choked to death on his vomit at Kilmarnock prison.  Talent, who was taking medication for epilepsy, had not been examined by a medical officer after his transfer to Kilmarnock from Barlinnie. He had also been givem methadone but this had not been entered on his medical records.  Sheriff Ireland said the Scottish Executive and Premier Prison Services, who run the jail, should ensure staff are 'advised of the importance of meticulous record-keeping'.  (Daily Record, July 19, 2004)

AN East Kilbride prison officer could find himself behind bars after being convicted by a High Court jury of attempting to pervert the course of justice.  St Leonards man David Allen, 44, was accused, along with Ayrshire colleague John Robertson, of hiding heroin in the belongings of Steven Little at Kilmarnock's Bowhouse Prison -- which is Scotland's only private jail -- and putting the prisoner at risk of prosecution.  Allen denied the charge but on Tuesday 26-year-old Robertson, of Auchinleck, dramatically changed his plea to guilty, claiming 'Dai' Allen, who was his supervising officer, had ordered him to stash the drug in a bag of medication belonging to Little.  A short time later the jury at the High Court in Kilmarnock retired to consider the evidence and returned with a verdict on Allen of guilty.  (Court Reporter, July 14, 2004)

PRISON officers at Scotland's only private jail planted drugs on an inmate, a court heard yesterday.  Warder James Callaghan claimed that his boss told him to hand over a suspected heroin wrap found on a prisoner at Kilmarnock's Bowhouse jail.  Supervisor Dai Allen said it "could be used to get another inmate or con with", the High Court at Kilmarnock heard.  A package found later during a cell search looked "very similar" to the wrap seized by Allen, said Mr Callaghan.  When asked if it had been planted, another warder, John Robertson, "grinned ear to ear", he claimed. Allen, 44, and Robertson, 26, are accused of hiding heroin in prisoner Steven Little's belongings, then ordering a search of his cell at the jail in September 2002.  (The Mirror, July 8, 2004)

FIVE prisoners at Scotland's only private jail have appeared in court charged with causing a major disturbance in which an officer was injured.  Derek Thomson, 41, James Cowan, 27, Kenneth Duffield, 24, Craig Scoular, 23, and George Ralph, 21, deny throwing chairs and TV sets at staff at Kilmarnock Prison on January 9.  They also deny wrecking property, including setting fire to rubbish bins, and Cowan denies throwing a TV set and injuring prison officer Paul Kennedy. All five face trial at a later date.  (Evening Times, July 1, 2004)

Lowdham Grange Prison, England
May 23, 2010  The Daily Telegraph
Under the scheme, the publicly-funded broadcaster handed over footage to inmates who earn just £30 a week rather than members of its own 23,000 staff. Convicts at a privately run Category B jail, the second-highest security level, transferred tapes of old television shows to computer to save them for posterity. Senior staff in the BBC’s archives department visited the jail to watch the work in progress while meetings were held to discuss a landmark deal for the prisoners to digitise all 1million hours of programmes in its vaults. Fearful about the controversy the scheme could cause, the BBC never discussed it publicly and even the broadcasting union, Bectu, was unaware of it. Details were obtained by this newspaper through a Freedom of Information request that took more than four months rather than the usual 20 working days. The BBC insists that it has not given any money to Serco, the private jail operator, for the secret scheme nor signed any contracts, following the pilot project last year. However emails disclosed by the corporation show that it had shown considerable interest in the innovative project proposed by Serco, which runs four prisons in England. The BBC owns more than 1m hours of historic content, some of it decades old and at risk of being lost. It employs 66 people to look after it, at a cost of £5m a year, in its Information and Archives department. The corporation estimates it would take 10 years to safely copy all 100m items in its collection into longer-lasting digital formats. In December 2008 it was approached by Serco to become involved in Artemis – Achieving Rehabilitation Through Establishing a Media Ingest Service – a new project for prisoners to transfer archive documents to computers. Serco said it would provide “high-quality employment” and the chance of an NVQ qualification for inmates and HMP Lowdham Grange, a 628-capacity jail near Nottingham all of whose inmates are serving at least four years. The firm said this would mean it could provide a “stable work force”. The BBC was told it would prove a “very cost-effective” way of digitising its archive, and several meetings were organised to discuss plans. Managers agreed to hand over 20 hours of old videos, including episodes of Horizon and Earth Story, so prisoners could transfer them to computer and also add “meta-data” – typed detailed descriptions of the footage to help producers search through it more easily. The British Library and National Archives also provided material for the pilot project. In September last year, five members of BBC staff visited the jail, where a production workshop had been built, and were reported to be “pleased” with what they saw of the prisoners’ work and enthusiasm. However David Crocker, the driving force behind the scheme at Serco, admitted: “The major concern was around the potential negative newspaper headlines that the BBC may attract.” The company did discuss the scheme with one newspaper and one trade magazine but made no reference to the BBC’s involvement. In November, Mr Crocker told the BBC: “I can’t thank you enough for finding a project for us to kick-start Artemis.” He said his staff were drawing up “terms of reference” and would then “cost the project” of a full-scale digitisation of the BBC’s archive. However no deals have yet been signed. The BBC said: “The BBC did hold discussions with Serco about their planned project to digitise archives. As part of this the BBC, alongside other organisations, provided some material for Serco to use as part of its feasibility study for the project. “No payment was made to Serco as part of this, nor was any guarantee or promise of work entered into. “The BBC has no plans to work with Serco to digitise its programme archive and has not come to any agreements nor signed any contracts with any firms about utilising the prison workforce on any project.”

December 17, 2009 Liverpool Daily Post
A LIVERPOOL prison is among five in the country allowing its inmates to watch satellite television. More than 4,000 prisoners enjoy the privilege in private jails nationwide. Altcourse Prison, in Fazakerley, is among the contractor-run prisons allowing access to a “limited number” of satellite channels. The number of prisoners allowed to watch satellite varies according to behaviour. But Justice minister and city MP Maria Eagle revealed the number was currently around 4,070. The Garston MP was responding to a written question from Tory MP Philip Davies. She said no inmates in public sector jails have access to satellite in their quarters. But they do at Altcourse and other GS4-run prisons in South Wales and Warwickshire. The other private prisons offering satellite television are run by Serco in Staffordshire and Nottingham. Ms Eagle said: “In these establishments, satellite television in cells is generally only available to prisoners on the enhanced or standard level of the incentives and earned privileges scheme.” There are 84,500 prisoners in England and Wales, meaning around one in 20 has access to satellite TV.

March 28, 2005 Nottingham Evening Post
An investigation has been launched after a man was found hanged in his prison cell. The discovery of Thomas Maughan's body at Lowdham Grange Prison was made by officers on a routine check at 11.45pm on Saturday. He was pronounced dead shortly after midnight, the Home Office said. A spokeswoman for the prison service said: " A staff patrol found him hanging from his cell's toilet door. "They tried CPR and paramedics continued when they arrived, but he was pronounced dead at 12.20am." The 45-year-old, from Sheffield, was jailed for six years in 2003 for burglary. Premier Custodial Group spokesman David Bandey said: "I can confirm he was found dead. It will now go to a full inquiry." In January, a report by the Prison Reform Trust called Private Punishment: Who Profits? said private prisons like Lowdham - one of ten in the country - were missing key targets on reducing serious assaults, drugs and 'purposeful activity' among inmates.

Maribyrnoug Detention Centre, Maribyrnoug, Australia
Feb 14, 2015 theage.com.au
Shirtless and barefoot, Mustafa Bektas sits on a low bench with his back against the wall. Five guards and a senior operations manager surround him in the cell. Two of them restrain his arms. Security footage from the detention centre in Melbourne's west shows the burly Turkish detainee being overpowered and pinned to the floor. He said Serco officers tied him up with three sets of handcuffs behind his back and he was forced down on his stomach, gasping for air. "[My] breathing was getting slower … they just kept pushing down and down. One was pushing my head down towards the ground," he said, speaking through a translator. "One of the handcuffs were too tight ... I was in pain. All I want is water. I kept saying that. All I want is water. One of the six of them went to get water, but the manager turned around and said 'no, don't give him water'." Bektas said he had been acting out that day, agitated because of a painful skin condition. He had repeatedly punched the cell wall and screamed to the guards outside. But officers' heavy-handed response was excessive, he said. The detainee's claims, which Serco officers have also recounted, are now being probed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Detention centre violence usually evokes images of riots and chaos on offshore camps such as Manus Island, but the hostility appears to have reached Melbourne too. Just weeks after Bektas was allegedly subjected to excessive force at the western suburbs detention centre, another detainee reported being kicked in the stomach by a guard. The Chinese woman, who is believed to have a mental illness, became upset and angry because she could not leave a secure area. According to internal documents, she threw a computer monitor on the floor and smashed a microwave when told by a guard she had to stay in Zone B one night in late January. Witnesses interviewed by Serco said the woman kicked and punched the officer. One said she then saw the officer raise his leg and kick the woman hard in the stomach. The report also said problems with the camera system prevented CCTV footage from the room and corridor from being reviewed. "[The detainee] said that the officer was standing by the door and was backing her," the report said. "She said she touched the officer very softly on the back, to which the officer allegedly raised his back foot and kicked her very hard on the stomach area." Photographs obtained by Fairfax Media show the woman lifting her T-shirt emblazoned with the Australian flag and the word "Melbourne" to reveal severe bruising on the right side of her abdomen. The woman was offered pain medication after complaining of discomfort when she swallowed following the alleged attack. In a letter to the woman last month, Serco said the matter warranted further investigation and would be referred to human resources. Serco said it took the allegations "very seriously" but told her not to expect to hear anything further about the complaint "due to Fair Work and Privacy Act requirements". A third case involving a detainee who was attacked led to two guards being sacked. The detainee, a Sri Lankan man, reported he was pushed and punched in the face by the officer. Serco apologised to the detainee last month, saying it does not condone staff acting inappropriately or illegally.

January 20, 2012 The Herald Sun
THE Melbourne immigration detention centre, which holds killers, drug dealers and failed asylum seekers, has had 25 escapees in three years. Seventeen fugitives, including drug dealers, are still on the run. Most were on overstayed or cancelled visas, and are awaiting deportation. The revolving door at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre has forced three internal security reviews that recommended significant changes. Now, red-faced services provider Serco is scrambling to extend electric fences and add what immigration department officials describe as "additional anti-climb measures". One source said changes to "soften" the centre's image after 2005, which eventually led to an electric fence replacing razor wire, meant easier escape routes. The source said the centre was not a prison but Serco had not given staff what was needed to manage trouble-makers or felons.

July 8, 2011 Herald Sun
In a major security breach, three men awaiting deportation effortlessly opened doors and internal gates on their way to scaling the centre's perimeter fence. One was armed with a 45cm double-sided blade believed to have been smuggled inside. The breakout, in the early hours of Monday, has enraged departmental chiefs and left red-faced security provider Serco facing an estimated $1 million fine. The Immigration Department said the three were Vietnamese nationals detained for overstaying visas. One failed to climb the fence, injuring his hand. His accomplices succeeded, only to be recaptured 30 minutes later by police dogs after the alarm was raised. All three are back in detention. The Herald Sun believes the escapees told authorities a security officer gave them swipe cards and impressions of padlock keys. Sources said the incident highlighted a growing "prison culture" in the centre, which is also home to detainees with convictions including murder and drug crimes. The department would not confirm or deny that keys and swipes were used, citing "operational reasons". But it has ordered an investigation and demanded an explanation from Serco. The foreign-owned company is paid about $1 billion to run the nation's detention centres. Serco recently brought in dozens of foreign staff, mostly from the UK, to staff its centres amid the rising numbers of boat arrivals.

January 9, 2011 Sunday Herald Sun
A SECURITY firm may be fined over the escape of an Italian national from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. A source told the Sunday Herald Sun the detainee scaled a high wall on New Year's Eve using a rope made of bedsheets. A spokesman from the Immigration Department said an investigation had begun to see if the escape was a result of "lax standards" by the centre operator, Serco. "We're awaiting an urgent report from Serco explaining the details of the guarding and security at the time," the spokesman said. "There are clauses in our contract, which so far we haven't used, that fines can be imposed for lax standards and we'll be looking closely at that. It shouldn't be happening." Thirty-five detainees have escaped from Serco-operated facilities in the past 12 months. Twenty-three have been recaptured. "We have a contract in place to ensure that Serco provides the service we require," he said. "They are required to provide secure detention services. Any escape is unacceptable and the contract has provisions for fines. "We're waiting on the details of what they say happened to work out what we can do to improve standards."

October 6, 2010 The Age
An Indonesian man who overstayed his visa has sparked a police hunt by escaping from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne's west last night, says the immigration department. The man, believed to be in his 30s, fled the facility about 8.45pm last night after being taken into custody on September 21 during an operation to find people who had overstayed their visas. A spokeswoman said for the immigration department said an investigation would be launched into how the man fled the facility, which is managed by private company SERCO. "Victorian police have been notified and the detention service provider has commenced a full investigation into the incident," said the spokeswoman. "The department will work actively with the detention services provider to investigate systems, procedures and infrastructure that are currently in place." SERCO is required to prepare a report for the department explaining the circumstances of the disappearance. The man is the second person to escape from the centre in recent months, with a Cambodian national fleeing while on a recreational visit to a nearby ten-pin bowling centre in early August. He managed to evade two security officers who accompanied him on the excursion.

August 3, 2010 The Age
A Cambodian national locked up for overstaying his visa is on the run after escaping from security officers during a trip to a bowling alley in Melbourne's west. The man, who was being held at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, was taken to the Highpoint AMF Bowling centre in Maribyrnong on Saturday with another inmate and two security officers as part of an organised excursion. After bowling a few frames and eating some fast food, the man fled from the centre about 11.15am and hailed a taxi, a caller to Radio 3AW's Rumour File said today. He remains on the run despite a large-scale search involving Victoria Police. A Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman this morning confirmed the man's escape, and said an investigation had been launched into his disappearance. "The man originally from Cambodia and another client were being escorted by two detention service private officers when the man ran off," he said. "Extra ... staff were immediately called to the scene but the man was unable to be relocated. Victoria Police were notified and the department has called for a full report into the incident from (the private security contractor) Serco." The caller to 3AW said the man was captured on CCTV camera hailing a cab outside the bowling alley. "No resource was spared looking for the light-footed escapee, last seen wearing a pair of two-toned, talcum powder-filled, non-marking soled shoes with the number six on the back of them," he said. "Going back over the CCTV footage the client had hailed a cab, changed a few lanes and was last seen heading in an easterly direction." The Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said he could not release the man's identity or age for privacy reasons. He said clients at immigration detention centres were regularly taken on excursions. "Detention centres are not prisons so its important to provide clients with recreational opportunities for their welfare," he said. "The department continues to look for him. Vic Police have been notified."

June 3, 2010 9 News
Two managers have been sacked and two others have been transferred following the escape of six people from Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. Nine people initially escaped from the complex in Sydney's southwest in the early hours of Tuesday, May 25. Three were detained by police as they escaped, but six others, all Chinese nationals, remain at large. Serco, the UK-based security company that manages the centre, undertook a "comprehensive investigation" following the escape, Serco spokeswoman Emma Needham said in a statement. "Serco has dismissed two employees today and redeployed two others following an internal investigation into last week's escapes from Villawood," she said. "In order to take the management of the centre forward and deliver the transformation required, changes to a number of positions were necessary." The company faces fines and sanctions imposed by the federal government following the escape. Immigration Minister Chris Evans has ordered an investigation into the breakout, the latest in a series of escapes from Villawood. Serco also manages security at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne's western suburbs. It came under fire after a Chinese national slipped away from two Serco security staff while on a visit to the Melbourne Aquarium in March.

April 2, 2010 The Age
A CHINESE man has embarrassed his private security minders by escaping from immigration detention while on an excursion at the Aquarium in central Melbourne. The man, who was waiting to be sent back to China, escaped while in the supervised care of officers from SERCO, a private firm that receives $70 million a year to manage Australia's detention facilities. Immigration Minister Chris Evans yesterday called for a detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the incident that comes on the heels of controversial escapes from Sydney's Villawood detention centre. It is believed the man slipped away on March 24 during a routine group excursion from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre, where he was being held. Melbourne police were immediately alerted. The man is the fourth Chinese national to escape from SERCO's custody in the past week. Only days ago three Chinese scaled a high-security fence at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre. They have not been seen since. A spokeswoman for the minister said escapes were not acceptable and that SERCO was contractually obliged to guarantee the detention of unlawful non-citizens. SERCO faces heavy fines under its contract with the federal government if it fails to present a plausible explanation for the lapses. Although the man was not considered dangerous, he was due for removal to China for breaches of visa conditions. It is believed several officers were at the Aquarium, but they failed to notice the man slip into a large crowd at the tourist attraction. He was with other detainees from the Maribyrnong centre. It is believed he had been detained several times by immigration compliance officers for breaching his visa conditions before being taken into custody. An Immigration Department spokesman said detainees were held under administrative law and were not subject to criminal punishment. Detainees were provided with regular excursions under duty-of-care requirements. Senator Evans has already ordered an inquiry into security at Villawood where SERCO has sacked 10 staff over security breaches.

Melbourne Immigration Transit Accomodation Facility, Broadmeadows, Ausltralia
May 28, 2017 theage.com.au

Guard jailed for kissing asylum seeker at detention centre
A former security guard is serving a one-month jail sentence for kissing an asylum seeker at a Melbourne immigration detention centre. Theivigan Panchalingham, 37, was previously a Serco guard at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre in Broadmeadows. Panchalingham, a refugee, is understood to have called the asylum seeker into his office at the detention centre between July and August, 2015. The woman complied and closed the door as she entered. He offered her some food and tapped his thigh, in what she believed to be a gesture to sit on his lap. She asked if she could leave the room. He helped her to open the door and kissed her on the cheek as she left. Magistrate Meaghan Keogh earlier this month found the man guilty of one count of sexual assault for the kiss. Ms Keogh said that while the assault was not the "most extreme", the woman was not free to leave detention or complain, making her "the most vulnerable type of victim". "Because those people rely on you to ensure their safety it does make this offending behaviour a breach of trust of the most serious type," she said. She also questioned Serco's failure to intervene after the guard sexually assaulted a fellow guard a year earlier, which she said could have prevented the more recent assault. The asylum seeker told the court in a victim impact statement that she became afraid of most of the guards after the assault. She stayed in her room most of the time, sleeping only two to three hours each night. "It has made me feel very unsafe and that rules and laws in Australia can't protect me. I feel I have no power, I have nothing to support myself, no one can make me feel safer," she said. The woman, who has been living in the community since December, said she still had nightmares and was afraid of anyone who resembled Panchalingham. Ms Keogh also said that Serco guards sent a clear message to detainees about what was acceptable in Australia through their actions, and he had undermined the woman's respect for the law. She told Panchalingham that detainees were "fleeing all sorts of situations in their home countries and they're coming to another country where they hope they'll be allowed to live freely and with the protection of the law and that is something that you yourself have experienced," she said. In the earlier 2014 incident, he kissed a colleague who was his junior on the mouth when they were en route to a Melbourne hospital for work, the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court heard. His colleague yelled at him and later told her manager what happened but asked him not to make an official report, thinking that her yelling at the guard would prevent future attacks. Ms Keogh said that Serco may have lost an opportunity to deal with the man's behaviour early on. He pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault in relation to this incident, for which Ms Keogh sentenced him to an 18-month community corrections order. The order, which is to be served after his prison term, includes 200 hours' community service and participation in a sex offender program. Defence counsel Shaun Pascoe told the court that the Tamil man was previously a journalist for a number of Tamil newspapers in Sri Lanka during the country's civil war, where he witnessed a bombing and other violence. He said he came to Australia to study business administration at La Trobe University and later obtained a humanitarian visa to stay in Australia because he feared that his anti-government stance would put his safety at risk if he returned to Sri Lanka. Mr Pascoe said his client had already lost his job at Serco and significant standing in the local Tamil community as a result of the allegations. He unsuccessfully argued that he should receive a community corrections order without conviction for both his crimes.

Sep 24, 2016 abc.net.au
Former guard at Melbourne immigration centre faces court over sexual assault allegations
A former Serco guard at a Melbourne immigration centre has faced court over multiple charges of sexual assault against an Iranian detainee and fellow guards. Theivigan 'Dave' Panchalingham is accused of three counts of intentionally touching a detainee in a sexual manner without her consent, and three of indecently assaulting two female co-workers. Mr Panchalingham was employed by Serco as a guard at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA). He was sacked by Serco in December after the allegations of sexual assault were made against him. He is accused of kissing the female detainee on the cheek and stroking her thigh and face in a sexual manner and without her consent. Mr Panchalingham is also accused of asking a co-worker if he could massage her breasts and of pulling another colleague down onto him so that her breasts were in his face. In February, the ABC revealed that one of the alleged victims had disclosed the sexual assaults to a mental health nurse at the immigration centre and two days later Victoria Police took a statement from her. The alleged offences took place between 2014 and 2015. When the allegations against Mr Panchalingham were first revealed, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said that a security officer had been immediately stood down from duty and the alleged victim had been provided with medical support. The case will be heard over five days at the Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court in February.

November 15, 2010 ABC
Overcrowding has been blamed for a violent brawl involving about 50 children at a Melbourne detention facility. The Immigration Department does not call it a detention centre, but the
 facility in Broadmeadows is one of the sites the department uses to hold hundreds of unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum in Australia. Last week there were 43 boys there, but another 98 were flown in from Christmas Island on the weekend. On Sunday night tensions flared up and police were called in to stop what the department says was a series of scuffles involving 50 mostly Afghan detainees. Seven people suffered minor injuries in the brawl and one is still in hospital. The department says police and the detention contractor, Serco, are investigating the fight and charges may be laid against those involved. Refugee advocate Nicole Mousley, who visited the centre a week ago, says the brawl was probably the result of overcrowding. "From what I saw, I don't think that centre is equipped to deal with that many boys," she said. "The common room is not designed to hold that many people. "The boys were telling me they were a bit concerned about the new people coming and weren't sure what was going to happen once everybody got there. "The boys actually told me they thought they would be kept separate from the new arrivals for a while. "So if the new arrivals have been put in straight away and expected to share the common area, I think then maybe some of the boys who have been there previously have been a bit surprised by that." The Broadmeadows centre is one of several which the Federal Government recently expanded. 'Pressure cooker' -- Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the violence is a sign the Government's asylum seeker policies are failing. "We have now more than 5,000 people in detention across the country. We have more than 75 per cent of those people having been in detention now for more than three months," he said. "When you have an all-time record of people arriving illegally by boat, all piling into detention centres and creating the pressure-cooker environment we are seeing, then it is inevitable these violent incidents and many more will follow, regrettably." Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan says he is concerned by the situation. "We are concerned about ensuring the centre remains in order, remains calm and that we are in control, which we are," he said. "These are all young men, all minors under the age of 18 who were involved in the disturbance. It was a series of scuffles. We believe focusing around access to computers, but we've still really to get to the bottom of that." Mr Logan says the capacity of the centre is 150 and he is confident it can comfortably house that many. He denies there are inadequate facilities for the 136 boys now there. "We are confident Serco, the detention services provider, is able to manage the accommodation and the good order of the centre," he said.

May 15, 2010 Sidney Morning Herald
Three people have been taken to hospital after up to 30 teenage asylum seekers brawled at a Melbourne accommodation centre. The fight broke out at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation facility in Broadmeadows at 9.30pm (AEST) on Friday after an argument between two groups got out of control. A Department of Immigration spokesperson said staff had the brawl under control before police arrived. Two teenagers who suffered cuts to their upper bodies have been released from hospital. Another is waiting to be treated. The facility houses family groups and unaccompanied minors. Police are investigating the incident while the private contractor which runs the centre, Serco, is also investigating. The immigration department says the facility, which holds 50 people, remains calm. The spokesperson would not reveal the nationalities of the teenagers in the brawl.

Mount Eden Prison, Mount Eden, New Zealand
May 27, 2017 radionz.co.nz

Prison safety concerns after Serco's latest loss

Serco New Zealand lost $10.5 million last year as the consequences of losing its Mt Eden Prison contract continued to bite. Accounts filed with the Companies Office show the winding up of the contract that it lost in 2015 cost it a further $3.2m in 2016. Serco's finances were also hit by lower revenues, higher staff costs and its first income tax bill in three years. Revenue for the 12 months to the end of December fell 18 percent to $52.1m, while staff costs increased 9 percent to $43.8m. It also had to pay $4.3m in income tax after receiving tax credits in 2015 and 2014. An "onerous contract provision" of $3.2m was also provided for to account for the costs incurred in the concluding period of the Mt Eden contract. A $30m loan from its British parent Serco Group, by way of two separate equity raisings during 2016, "strengthened" the company's finances, Serco New Zealand said in a statement. This saw 30m new shares in Serco New Zealand being bought by Serco Group for $1 each. Serco Group also guaranteed financial support for its New Zealand arm until at least the end of 2017. Serco lost $10.9m in 2015 after it was penalised and stripped from its contract to run Mt Eden Correctional Facility. It lost $2.6m in 2014. Three years of losses were worrying, Labour Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said. "It means they're probably going to cut costs and corners when it comes to running the prison ... I've concerns then for staff safety, I've concerns for prisoner safety and the safety of the community." Serco New Zealand was two years into a 25-year contract to run the Kohuroa Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri, which was jointly owned by InfraRed Capital Partners, John Laing Investments and ACC. Serco Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said Serco continued to support the government's goals to reduce reoffending and create better outcomes for Māori. "Our focus across the prison is to achieve the outcomes that we are contracted to deliver on behalf of New Zealanders. Our contract sets clear performance standards, expects us to achieve significant savings for government and holds us accountable if we don't deliver. Our people are part of the communities we serve, and our aim is to make those communities safer, better places." The prison officers' union says it will be seeking assurance from Serco no jobs will be lost, in light of the financial loss. The president of the Corrections Association, Alan Whitley, said his concern now was that the company may look at recovering costs by laying off staff.


Mar 31, 2017 radionz.co.nz
It's haere rā to Serco as Mt Eden Prison contract ends
Serco will end its management of Mt Eden Prison today after four years riddled with allegations of fight clubs, poor supervision and understaffing. The government handed over management of the prison to the UK-based company in 2011 but took it back in 2015 after the allegations were made public. Since then Serco has only been involved in a labour supply agreement, which finishes today, leaving Corrections back in control. At the time government handed over management, it said it was confident the company would succeed. After cases of fight clubs made headlines, a Chief Inspector's report found organised fighting was happening at least once a week. A staff member had also taken part in sparring. The report concluded there was a lack of supervision and staff were a primary source of contraband. Last year, Corrections chief executive Ray Smith described Serco's management as "willy-nilly" with failures on a large scale. Labour's Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the problems were insurmountable and Serco had to go. "It was a total disaster from start to finish. It's a pity it took so long for all the problems to emerge," he said. "Once the fight club videos started coming out it became obvious that the prison was out of control and then the stories just started flooding in to me." The government should never have given Serco the contract, Mr Davis said. "I just don't think the privatisation of prisons works, because if they're successful then people won't go back to prison which means they won't make money. So [if there's] any organisation that actually has a vested interest in being unsuccessful it'd be private operators of prisons. "The best thing I can say to them is haere rā." Since taking over in 2015, Corrections has employed a new prison director and leadership, reconfigured the prison units and added 50 more staff. Northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns said the prison was now running smoothly. "We've brought it back up to a Corrections standard essentially, around numbers of staff, systems and process, general cleanliness of the prison. All those things that allow you to have good order and control in a prison," she said. "Prisoners are feeling safer and they've got more routine, they've got more activities and whilst that doesn't stop some, to them being discontented that's just part of prison life." Serious assaults between prisoners had dropped by about 55 percent, from 11 a year to five, since Corrections stepped in. However, there had been a rise in less serious assaults between prisoners and staff. That was down to enforcing a zero-violence policy which meant greater vigilance and reporting of violence, Ms Burns said. "There's absolutely no evidence of fight clubs in that prison. There are, however, fights occurring most days in that particular prison between individual prisoners. "What we do is step in extremely quickly and ... stop it escalating and the prisoners have consequences." In the lead-up to the end of the contract, 180 Serco staff have been hired by Corrections. Serco said it had offered some staff positions at the prison it runs in Wiri, as required under its employment agreement. "Since the step-in, we have worked closely with the [Corrections] Department and our employees at [Mt Eden] managing the needs of staff and the facility," Serco Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said in a statement. Upon the release of the Chief Inspector's report last year Serco acknowledged it could have done better. "In 2015 certain important areas of service delivery fell below levels which our customer, the Department of Corrections, the Minister of Corrections and the people of New Zealand had a right to expect, and for that, we are truly sorry," the company said at the time. "Important lessons have been learnt, and we have paid the Crown $8m recognising this and the costs incurred by the Department in taking over the management of the prison in July 2015." Corrections Minister Louise Upston said she was confident the prison was now being run well. "I am reassured that any issues that may arise ... [at] prisons will emerge early through the changes I have made to the Corrections Inspectorate to give it more powers and ensure greater transparency. Private prisoner operators could be held to account in future through the use of financial penalties and having their contracts ended, she said. "There are no current opportunities for private operators in the corrections space at present but the government would not rule it out in future."


Mar 28, 2017 newshub.co.nz
Mt Eden Prison: Corrections' statistics show change after Serco dumped
An exclusive Newshub report shows a dramatic drop in serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults at Mt Eden Prison since Corrections took back control from Serco. Under Serco's management it was the country's worst-performing prison, dogged by controversies such as fight clubs and drug use among inmates. Here's what Corrections' numbers show. A 55 percent drop in serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults - that's where, for example, bones are broken or someone needs outside medical attention. Less serious prisoner assaults have also decreased on Corrections' watch, by seven percent. Serious inmate assaults on staff are static, but low level assaults are up more than 50 percent. Corrections' explanation is that it's being hyper-vigilant recording every incident. Corrections has added 84 beds at Mt Eden, but staff numbers are also up 17 percent. Serco ran a thin roster with "phantom" guards. And Corrections maintains fight clubs are no more. "There is absolutely no evidence that there are organised fight clubs," says northern regional commissioner for corrections Jeanette Burns. But - and there is a but. "There is fighting on a daily basis in that particular prison," she says. Thirty percent of inmates at Mt Eden are gang affiliated. Corrections say they are responsible for the majority of scraps. "If there is any retaliation that needs to be carried out within the prison as per gangs orders, that it is mostly senior gang members asking junior gang members to do that," Ms Burns says. Prisoners blow off steam at gym class and Ms Burns says Corrections is using extra measures to avoid mixing rivals. Zero tolerance for fighting can mean segregation for prisoners. Daily prison threat assessments leaked to Newshub provide a rare snapshot of the jail's relentlessly challenging environment. On one December day two prisoners were caught fighting in a day room. Another inmate cut open his own arm with a pen casing. Finds include homebrew hidden in a cordial bottle, three makeshift weapons and a contraband tattoo gun hidden in a light. January is peppered with reports of fights, some with lookouts posted. And one described as "contender fighting". February brought more of the same with reports of grappling, sparring and full-on fighting. At the end of this month Serco is out of Mt Eden - totally. There's just a faint grubby mark left where its sign has already been ripped off the building. But the private operator still runs the 960-bed men's jail at Wiri, in south Auckland.

Dec 17, 2016 tvnz.co.nz
Corrections has been forced to pay about $2 million to put up extra Mt Eden jail staff in an Auckland hotel.
Up to 40 guards at a time have been staying in the four-and-a-half star Adina Apartment Hotel over 18 months, but Corrections says it's getting a good deal. A discounted rate had been negotiated, which hasn't been revealed, and the department wasn't paying the $400 a night other hotels would have charged, northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns told RNZ today. "I think it is a good use of taxpayers' money to look after your staff decently to run a safe and secure prison." More staff were needed because of higher prisoner numbers at Mt Eden. Some of the cost was coming out of the $8m settlement paid when Corrections took back the running of the remand facility from private contractor Serco, she said. Corrections was recruiting new staff and the hotel arrangement would not be needed when they started work.

Dec 13, 2016 stuff.co.nz
Mt Eden former director says he was told to 'reduce the noise' over fight club allegations video
On the eve of the US election, while the world and the world's media were captivated by the race for the White House, Corrections released a public version of a report into the Mt Eden fight club scandal. By then, the fallout from the scandal had claimed heads - the director of Serco-run Mt Eden Prison, Gareth Sands, lost his job and the corrections minister was dumped. Serco, a British outsourcing company run by the grandson of Winston Churchill, lost the contract. As past of the six-part Stuff Circuit documentary series on prisons, Private Business, Public Failure, Sands has spoken out for the first time. The emergence of organised fights, filmed and uploaded to the internet, caused international embarrassment for authorities. Sands ran Mt Eden Corrections Facility for two-and-a-half years, including during the fight club scandal last year. The dumped former director of the prison says he was told to "reduce the noise" of his questions over fight club. He lost his job after Serco lost the contract to run the prison, in the wake of the revelations of prisoners involved in organised fighting bouts at Mt Eden. An investigation began into allegations of fight clubs in mid-2014. Sands said he started asking for information about the allegations in June 2014, but was told to "reduce the noise" of his requests. He was eventually given a redacted version of the fight club report in May 2015, in a brown paper envelope, with, he says, an instruction not to share it with anyone. Sands says during the time the investigation was underway, he was telling Corrections that staffing levels at Mt Eden were too low, and that in June 2015 he warned against making Mt Eden take in more prisoners. "On the 11th of June 2015 I specifically said I am concerned about the safety, security and welfare of staff and prisoners. I said that to the Department of Corrections and to Serco. "We've just had a murder at Christchurch. We've had attempted escapes, we've had escapes - not in my prison, elsewhere there's been escapes - attempted escapes, attempted murders, serious assaults, and I'm sitting in the prison I'm responsible for saying 'we need to be really careful here, because we're going to get to a point where something happened'. And it did". A month later, the fight club story broke. The report Sands says he was given in a brown paper envelope was made available by Corrections on its website on November 8. The redacted version mentions other prisons where organised fight clubs were believed to be happening. In its executive summary, the report writers said there was no evidence to support allegations of staff involvement in the fight clubs but it was unlikely staff would have been completely unaware of the fighting. "There is also evidence to support that Fight Clubs are being similarly operated at Northern Region Corrections Facility and Rimutaka Prison. "This information has been gathered from interviews with prisoners." Other allegations concerned claims staff assaulted prisoners, a lack of healthcare for injured prisoners and poor incident reporting. A probation officer claimed fights were organised by corrections officers, who used prison rations and phone cards as "revenue" and prisoners claimed members of Black Power carried knives inside Mt Eden for "personal protection", but these allegations were unsubstantiated during the investigation. Prisoners were interviewed as part of the investigation into the allegations and, under questioning, most of the 12 interviewees showed "real anxiety and fear". "Some of them became tearful during the interview. "Whilst talking about the Fight Club, the Special Monitors [investigators] could see the fear build in them and they would get to a point where they refused to speak further." Two types of bouts were organised, fight clubs involving prisoners being bullied or coerced into taking part and "contender series" bouts, in which fighters agreed to take part. "The prisoners described the fights as taking part over three rounds of one minute duration. Fighters are selected on size with ability having no bearing. The Special Monitors were told of instances of semi-professional fighters beating prisoners for the full three minutes. The fights were commonly described as mean, fierce, brutal and hard-out with no mercy for the contestants." A common theme throughout the reports was the staffing levels at Mt Eden. In the next episode in the series, to be published on Wednesday at 6pm, Stuff Circuit explore revelations of a concerning practice in Corrections-run prisons.

Nov 12, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Former Mt Eden inmate suing Corrections for $5m
A former inmate of the Serco-run Mt Eden Prison is seeking millions of dollars in compensation from the Corrections Department. Benjamin Lightbody has been left brain damaged after being assaulted at the prison in 2013. The Privacy Commission ruled Corrections interfered with his privacy by deleting or losing footage of the assault, he said. Mr Lightbody, a former goldsmith, is seeking $5 million in compensation from Corrections for loss of earnings. "Nearly a third of my brain has been damaged. I find it hard to sleep, eat regularly, my stamina and my overall health has decreased," he said. Corrections said it could not comment at this time as there were still potential proceedings on the case.

Nov 12, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Prison fight clubs: 'It was basically a jungle'
Prisoners were being forced to take part in fight clubs by the notorious Killer Beez street gang at Mt Eden prison as early as 2009, and were bashed if they refused. Prisoners filmed themselves fighting in Mt Eden prison. Prisoners filmed themselves fighting in Mt Eden prison and the videos were posted on YouTube in 2015. Newly released reports into fight clubs at the old and the new Mt Eden prison have revealed the extent of the violence, much of it before private operator Serco arrived on the scene. Corrections Minister Judith Collins said the reports were appalling and has called her department's behaviour "disturbing". The Department of Corrections first investigated reports of fight clubs at Mt Eden prison in 2009. It found the Killer Beez gang was forcing prisoners to fight and staff were turning a blind eye to the violence. Prisoners told investigators that if they didn't take part in the fight clubs, they would be pack-attacked by gang members later. Yesterday the department also released a 2014 special monitor's investigation into fight clubs at the new Serco-run Mt Eden jail, which until then it had refused to make public. It features allegations of savage attacks by gangs, beatings of prisoners by staff, and the deliberate outing of child sex offenders by prison staff to the general prison population. Prison staff also told the investigators the fight clubs were taking place when there weren't enough staff on the wings. "It was basically a jungle," said Labour Party corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. He said Corrections did nothing about it. "The report focused on the making sure that the staff weren't doing anything illegal, but they totally ignore the fact that prisoners were getting their heads punched in. I just think it's institutional neglect." Corrections Minister Judith Collins said both reports into organised fighting at Mt Eden were appalling, and Corrections had left ministers in the dark. "Both of them, I think, are really disturbing. And what's really disturbing is that these reports were not elevated at the right time to the chief executive or to the ministers at the time." In September 2015, RNZ lodged an Official Information Act request for all reports into fight clubs at Mt Eden held by the Corrections Department. At the time, Corrections said there was only one such report - the 2014 investigation - but yesterday it released the 2009 fight club report too. Ms Collins said that was not good enough. "It's completely unacceptable - and it's completely unacceptable that a minister who is held to account for their department does not have access to them." Mr Davis said everything he had been told by prisoners about violence in prisons had been backed up by the reports. "They are privileged prisoners that basically run the show and staff just turned a blind eye to it and allowed people to get assaulted at will. "It just beggars belief, to be honest, that this is going on in New Zealand." Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon said the reports confirms the worst fears about the prison's management. "Effectively it seems that Serco lost control of that prison, it was an unsafe prison. "That reality was suppressed for a very long time, and that could have allowed the situation to carry on for much longer than it needed to. The newly released information also shows Corrections was warned in 2014 that fight clubs were probably being run in Rimutaka and Ngawha Prisons. The 2014 special monitor's investigation also said inmates had told it of other fight clubs at the other two state-run prisons in Upper Hutt and Northland. Last month Corrections it said there was no evidence of fight clubs at prisons other than Mt Eden, after inspections in 2015 at eight jails including Ngawha and Rimutaka.

Nov 9, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Corrections sat on fight clubs investigation
Corrections sat on a finding that there were fight clubs at Mt Eden prison for a year, partly because the National Commissioner, Jeremy Lightfoot, doubted he could make Serco do anything about it, a report shows. Mr Lightfoot ordered the inquiry into organised violence at the then private-run prison in May 2014, received its findings by the middle of that year, then did nothing with those for a year until videos of fight clubs were posted on YouTube by inmates. Mr Lightfoot's inaction is documented in an audit of a 2014 fight club inquiry report, both of which were released yesterday for the first time. It shows he wanted more evidence after reading the inquiry report, but did not ask for it. "Additional work should have been undertaken at this point to provide greater certainty as to conclusions and recommendations, given the lack of accessible evidence" from the interviews with reluctant prisoners, the auditors said. In addition, Mr Lightfoot told the auditors he held back because the report's recommendations could not be implemented, as Mt Eden was at that time a private prison run by Serco and "any ... recommendations were not able to be implemented by Corrections". Nothing more was done until fight club videos from Mt Eden were posted on YouTube a year later, in mid-2015. Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said Mr Lightfoot  felt the report lacked substantive facts, which came out when the YouTube videos emerged. However, Mr Smith did not agree that Corrections was unable to require Serco to implement changes Corrections thought were important. Mr Smith said he proved this ultimately by taking Mt Eden's management off Serco, and forcing multimillion-dollar penalties on the multinational. A 2015 auditor's report also released for the first time yesterday said senior managers at the time were distracted by a major incident - the fleeing of convicted murderer and sex offender Phillip John Smith. Mr Lightfoot told auditors this escape took precedence and used up all resources. However, Phillip Smith's escape was in November, four months after the fight club inquiry's initial findings. "Oh look, Jeremy Lightfoot has done a terrific job as National Commissioner ... I do have confidence in Jeremy, but he would agree with me that this should have been handled better," Mr Smith said. "You know, people are human and they don't always do everything perfectly, and you to have to look at things in the round," he said. Corrections also released a report yesterday that showed there was evidence from prisoner interviews of fight clubs at Northland and Rimutaka prisons. The department inspected those and six other state-run jails last year and dismissed that.

Oct 8, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Serco insists there was no cover-up at Mt Eden prison
Serco has denied putting prisoners' lives at risk, despite leaving entire units unstaffed and unlocked at a facility full of violent offenders. The private prison operator is under renewed scrutiny following the release of a damning report into its failed attempt at running Mt Eden Corrections Facility. The chief inspector found Serco had little control over the understaffed prison, and employees regularly brought in contraband for inmates. Corrections monitors knew about the prison's problems, but failed to report it. Asked by TV3's The Nation how badly Serco ran the prison on a scale of one to 10, Corrections Minister Judith Collins - who originally awarded Serco the contract to run Mt Eden - gave it an "eight or nine". "They did actually do all of those things to start with - but near the end of the term of their contract, they started to lose control of the situation." A previously unreleased report from 2009, when the prison was run by Corrections, found many of the same problems existed then. It's believed the fight clubs that emerged under Serco were run by many of the same prisoners. Serco's Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said the company didn't cover up anything, and nor was it penny-pinching by refusing to hire enough staff. "There was no attempt at all, there was no deliberate attempt through the period of our contract for us to misreport anything," he told The Nation. "The inspector found that in his investigation." Prisoners took advantage of Serco's understaffing, taking part in brutal fights that went unreported. Mr Irwin says the company didn't "knowingly" put lives at risk by having entire units unmanned for up to two hours at a time. "We had no evidence of the organised fighting until the video evidence arrived," says Mr Irwin. But he does admit they failed to respond to low staff numbers "quickly enough". "That's unacceptable. We've admitted that." The prison staff's union raised concerns about Serco's running of Mt Eden in 2013, including the low staff numbers and how some prisoners were classified. Ms Collins says today is the first she's heard about the union's concerns. "It's interesting that you received those emails," she told The Nation. "I have no reason to believe the previous minister [Sam Lotu-Iiga] had access to those. I'd like to see those emails." She isn't aware if anyone at Serco or Corrections has lost their jobs over the scandal, and wouldn't comment on whether anyone should have. She also declined to comment about the fact one of the Corrections monitors at Mt Eden was now working at the prison in Wiri, south Auckland, which Serco also runs. Nor does she know if Corrections, which took over Mt Eden after Serco's contract was terminated, will be hiring Serco staff. "Corrections has told me not all of the Serco staff have been offered contracts," says Ms Collins. "I have to rely on the fact that Corrections is undertaking its due diligence of its staff members." On Friday, Labour's Phil Twyford said there are reports of fight clubs happening at Wiri. Ms Collins says there's no evidence that's true. "I've been into the prison, I've had a look around, I've seen people, I've walked through it. I haven't seen those reports." Serco has a 25-year contract to run Wiri. Ms Collins says there are no plans to cancel that arrangement, despite the company's failings at Mt Eden. "My choice is that we have a provider, or some providing of some competition." She says Wiri is a very different prison to Mt Eden, which houses remand prisoners. "People are on remand because they can't get bail or they haven't yet been sentenced. They have a stay on average of 23 days - it's a very volatile situation, and two-thirds of population in prison is there for violence, and most of those in remand are very violent people."

Oct 6, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Fight club report shows Serco lacked control of Mt Eden prison
John Key says a damning report into the failings of Serco at Mt Eden prison isn't a sign the Government should end the private prison programme, despite Opposition claims. The Chief Inspector's report into the remand prison's 'fight clubs' and availability of contraband has found Serco didn't have sufficient control over some aspects of the prison's management. It lays out more detail of how the organised fights worked, how banned items were brought into the prison and makes 21 recommendations for change. Labour and the Greens say it shows the "experiment" of private prisons needs to end. "It's time for Serco - and all private companies - to get out of our prisons, for good," Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. "The bottom line is that Serco can't be trusted to run our prisons, and the Government should immediately cut all ties to this negligent company." Labour's corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says "prisoners had taken control of the prison". He says private prisons have no place in New Zealand. But the Prime Minister says Serco's failure at Mt Eden isn't symptomatic of a disastrous programme. "It's definitive proof Serco failed to carry out the contract in the way they agreed to with the Corrections Department." He says so far, the new Serco-run prison in Wiri, south Auckland, shows no signs of being mismanaged. "Philosophically, I think there's a place for private and public prisons and they hold each other to account - and everything we see in Wiri so far, it's a very successful combination." The contracts mean Corrections can hold them to account if they breach terms, such as what happened at Mt Eden. Corrections stepped in to take over the running of the Mt Eden remand facility in July last year and announced it wouldn't be renewing the Serco contract. In April, the parties reached an $8 million settlement to cover the cost of Corrections taking over and performance notices. Serco also missed out on its performance bonus for the 2015/16 year, totalling $3.1 million. He says if the Government were to also cancel the Wiri contract, it could open them up to legal action. Asked if Serco was the wrong company to contract, Mr Key replied that in hindsight, "clearly they were the wrong choice". A number of the recommendations relate to the monitoring of contracts in prisons by Corrections, and the department has already strengthened their oversight of private prisons, including at Wiri. How the 'fight club' worked: The organised fights were brutal and sometimes involved multiple 'rounds' of fighting and a number of consecutive bouts per session. On occasion, the winner of the first fight would immediately face another challenger. Some prisoners reported being forced to fight, saying if they refused they'd be threatened, "pack attacked" or assaulted by senior gang members from the Killer Beez, Head Hunters, Black Power and others who helped put on the bouts. Aside from one instance where a staff member was identified on CCTV footage participating in sparring, the report says there was insufficient evidence to say staff were directly involved. Serco senior management received a number of internal reports suggesting such fights were going on, but it was likely they didn't know the full extent. Serco's rostering of day-to-day staff was "fundamentally flawed" because it included staff on annual or medical leave or who had resigned, resulting in an "inaccurate picture" of staffing levels. A review of CCTV footage showed instances where no staff members could be seen in some units for extended periods - in one situation there was no supervision for more than two-and-a-half hours. Staff were also seen on CCTV playing pool and table tennis. Long periods without supervision and a lack of CCTV cameras in cells allowed the fights to happen, the report found. Serco said plans were in place to address general violence at the prison before the fight club was exposed, but no evidence was provided to the investigation. During the media storm around the prison, it was alleged prisoners suffered serious injuries including broken limbs and brain damage. Two of those incidents were reviewed and showed prisoner on prisoner violence which met the criteria to be notified as a serious assault. But instead of that, they were reported to Corrections national office by Serco as an accident or not reported at all. Access to contraband: The report also found staff members were the most likely to have smuggled in "freely available" contraband to prisoners. Prisoners spoken to made statements saying anything that would fit in an icecream container could be smuggled in. Two staff members have recently been dismissed for contraband-related reasons, while another is under investigation. The report notes how staff search procedures were "relaxed" from July 2013. Instead of every staff member being screened on entry, a minimum of 40 staff were randomly searched each month. "Although Serco exceeded its own random searching numbers, this meant that many incoming staff were not searched, giving them the opportunity to smuggle contraband into the prison, if so inclined," the report says. Cells weren't searched as often as required, with some having no recorded searches for three months. Recommendations accepted: Corrections stepped in to take over the running of the Mt Eden remand facility in July last year and announced it wouldn't be renewing the Serco contract. In April, the parties reached an $8 million settlement to cover the cost of Corrections taking over and performance notices. Serco also missed out on its performance bonus for the 2015/16 year, totalling $3.1 million. Corrections boss Ray Smith says since taking over the prison, contraband searches have been stepped up, staffing levels are adequate and the kitchens have been upgraded to ensure hygiene levels are met. Staff will get more training and a Corrections prison director and deputy director have been appointed. There are extra monitors at the Serco-run Auckland South Corrections Facility. Mr Smith says he accepts all of the report's 21 recommendations, with 13 already in place and eight underway. The terms of reference also looked at eight other prisons, but found no evidence of organised fights there. "From time-to-time the management of prisons can fail, be they public or privately operated. It's important that we learn from these experiences to make the Corrections system stronger," Mr Smith says. He considers the report "important reading" for those in prison management to show "what can happen when control systems fail". Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who was not in the role when the fight club videos emerged, says she's confident lessons will be learned "by all parties".

Aug 30, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Asylum seeker forced to take part in fights at Mt Eden prison
A tribunal has accepted an asylum seeker's claims that he was forced to take part in fights at the troubled Mt Eden prison in Auckland. The man said he had been beaten during his two-month detention before he was allowed to move to the Mangere refugee resettlement centre. He told the immigration and protection tribunal he felt "psychologically ill" during his stay at Mt Eden. "Some inmates were members of the Black Power and Mongrel Mob [gangs] and carried knives," the tribunal was told. "They would take the appellant into a room with some five to 10 persons and he would be forced to fight someone bigger than himself. "The guards were not aware of what was going on, and he did not inform them as he feared being characterised as an informer." The tribunal, which heard his appeal for refugee status, accepted his evidence about the violence he suffered. It said: "He had been beaten by gang members and been forced into gang fights against persons stronger than himself on a weekly basis. "He stated that he still had light scarring on his head from injuries he had incurred. "Despite the fact that no contemporaneous psychological or medical evidence have been produced concerning the effects of this mistreatment on the appellant at this time, or any report or correspondence from Immigration New Zealand's compliance branch tendered on the matter, the Tribunal accepts the appellant's evidence that he was the victim of physical violence and forced to fight in gang fights during his period in prison." The man claimed refugee status when he arrived in New Zealand in 2014 from Somalia, and he was immediately taken to Mt Eden prison. He claimed he been kidnapped and ill-treated by Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group in Mogadishu, who attempted to forcibly recruit him as a jihadist. The man said the group later killed his father, brother and a close friend when he refused to join them, and that he feared for his life. He said the violence he suffered at Mt Eden prison had put him under mental pressure which meant there were differences between his initial claim made then to Immigration New Zealand and his subsequent evidence to immigration officials and the tribunal. But the tribunal said while it allowed for the effects the abuse could have had on the man's mental and physical health, the violence did not answer the tribunal's concerns about the discrepancies and implausibility of the man's version of events in Somalia. The man's Auckland-based lawyer, Tonderai Mukusha, said his client did not want to comment while he awaited a High Court decision on his refugee appeal.

Jun 12, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Serco lost $10m after Mt Eden fiasco
Private prison operator Serco lost $10 million last year after being stripped of its contract to run Mt Eden prison. Serco New Zealand lost the contract in last July following allegations of assaults and organised fight clubs. Accounts filed with the companies office showed the multinational company's New Zealand arm spent more than it earned in the 12 months to the end of December. Despite revenues of $64m, it costs more than doubled compared to the previous year to $74.9m. The cost of exiting its contract to run Mt Eden Prison totalled $10.1m, including the $8m fine it had to pay to the Department of Corrections for its failures. A further $2m was spent on what Serco deemed 'disengagement costs' which it incurred when its contract formally ended in March this year. The accounts showed Serco owes more debt than its assets were currently worth after having to borrow $13.5m from its British parent to prop up its books. Serco New Zealand's total liabilities now exceeded its assets by $18.9m. To reduce its debt Serco's British parent, Serco Group, agreed to increase its share capital in its New Zealand arm by $20m. Serco Group has also provided a letter of support stating it will enable Serco New Zealand to pay its debts until May 2017 - one year from the signing of the accounts. In a statement Serco said its latest financial statement included costs incurred as a result of the Department of Corrections 'step in' to manage Mt Eden Corrections Facility in July last year. "In April this year, Serco and Corrections entered into a disengagement and transition agreement and settlement deed, which included a final payment of $8 million to Corrections," it said. The company's commitment to New Zealand remained strong, Serco Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said in the statement. "All Serco New Zealand profits to date had been reinvested in the New Zealand operations. We remain absolutely committed to serving the people of New Zealand, providing services where we can deliver meaningful economic and social outcomes." Serco is one year into a 25 year contract to run the country's largest public private partnership at Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri. "At Kohuora, we remain focused on doing a great job. We have a highly professional team in place and we have made a solid start," Mr Irwin said. In 2014, Serco lost $2.6m.

Apr 4, 2016 newstalkzb.co.nz
Serco pays Corrections $8 million to cover Mt Eden running costs
UPDATED 6.15PM Private Prison operator Serco has had to pay the Corrections Department $8 million. The sum has been paid after the department took over the running of the Mount Eden Corrections Facility in December last year following concerns about Serco's operation. It's become clear Serco was not employing enough staff at the prison, before the Government stepped in to end the private company's contract. Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith said the 370 staff employed by Serco are still working at the prison - and Corrections has hired more. "We've been running with an extra 40 to 50 people here for the last nine months and that will continue to compliment the staff that are currently Serco employees". Minister Judith Collins said the Department will now run the facility, with Serco providing staff at a cost until the end of March next year. "There are some middle management jobs that might be lost, but the majority of the staff are going to be employed by Serco with Corrections paying their wages." Collins said it's a pleasing outcome. "Serco are not making any money out of this, it's absolutely a cost only basis, and Corrections is being paid $8 million from Serco to cover the costs of Corrections having to step in," she said. Serco chief Mark Irwin said it's only right, as the Government has incurred significant additional costs. "There were areas of performance, where under the performance management framework of the contract, we had performance payments, and we don't believe it's appropriate for that to happen, so we will be paying that back." Irwin won't say exactly which of its obligations weren't met. But he's admitted the problems centred on issues other than just the ratio of officers to inmates. "There has been an increase in the muster but as I said it's not just that pure number it is also the profile of the people and some of the initial demands that go around serving the justice system more broadly". He said the full detail will be in the Chief Inspector's report - which is currently being disputed in the High Court. Smith said staff have been told they're still needed at the facility despite the change of management. He said there'll be a transition over the next 12 months until the prison is run solely by Corrections employees. "Mark and his team from Serco will provide a labour-supply contract that's cost only, it's not a profit-based contract, so we'll pay for the labour that we receive to help us run the prison through to the end of the contract and beyond that time period". Smith said the Department will continue to run the facility. "The Department of Corrections is going to continue running the prison beyond the end of this prison contract, but I will provide advice to the Government in due course about the options that they have with the prison going forward". It's an arrangement Labour MP Kelvin Davis has reservations about. "I think maybe Serco should just cut it's losses and hand the whole thing back over to Corrections and let Corrections start again from the beginning". Davis said it confirms the privatisation experiment has been a complete failure. This company that is apparently a state-of-the-art organisation that can run prisons has now become little more than a labour-hire company. I just think that's ridiculous, in fact it's a joke". The Public Service Association said other state prisons in Auckland suffered when staff were sent to take over the Serco-run Mt Eden prison. National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said the debacle has cost not only the corrections department, but the safety and well being of the offices working inside prisons. "The fact that they were called in to bail out Serco and what was going on at the Mount Eden, at the same time as the unanticipated growth in prisoner numbers across the country, definitely led to a strain within the service". Ms Polaczuk hopes Corrections Minister Judith Collins will treat the incident as a cautionary tale. "I think they've learnt their lesson that Serco and other companies like it which try to make profit from public services and can't be trusted and cant deliver the best for the people who work in those services or the people who rely on them".

Feb 15, 2016 stuff.co.nz
Corrections stands by investigation into Serco Mt Eden 'fight clubs'
An investigation into allegations of "fight clubs" at Mt Eden prison was motivated by prisoner safety and not a desire to target Serco, a court has been told, after it was revealed investigations into organised fighting at the prison go back to 2009. Lawyers for the Department of Corrections have defended their latest investigation, saying it was "overly cautious and rightfully so", motivated by prisoner safety and not a desire to target Serco. A Serco-initiated judicial review of a Corrections investigation report, produced following allegations in mid-2015 of fight clubs and access to contraband, began in Wellington's High Court on Monday. The report was completed last year but not released due to the legal challenge. Serco lawyer Hayden Wilson said the investigation had failed to cover two earlier reports on organised fighting at Mt Eden - in 2009, before Serco started running the prison, and in 2014. The existence and findings of those reports, which were not shared with Serco until after last year's inquiry was launched, should have been taken into consideration when judging Serco's management, he said. A spokeswoman for Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who was in charge of the department in 2009, said she had not been advised by Corrections of any allegations or investigations. A Corrections spokesperson said the 2009 investigation looked into allegations of fighting and possible staff involvement but related to the old Mt Eden prison, which was closed in 2011, and not Mt Eden Corrections Facility. A report found it was likely that some prisoners were involved in "short fights or assaults carried out in areas away from staff or CCTV cameras". As the investigation found it was "unlikely" that staff were involved, Corrections did not tell Collins about the allegations. Wilson said the reports were among relevant information omitted from the investigation, as its focus shifted from its terms of reference into a wider investigation of "the management practices of Serco". Serco had been "wandering in the dark" as a result of Corrections' failure to give it sufficient information about allegations related to the fight clubs and other problems, which could be disproven in some instances. Early drafts of the report were "entirely silent" on serious allegations of an initiation ritual called "dropping", where prisoners were thrown over a balcony to the concrete below. Serco was eventually provided information showing none of 90 staff members and prisoners interviewed had seen the ritual, and successfully asked for the report to be amended to reflect that. Wilson said other statements from prisoners had been quoted in the report as fact, despite being "unsubstantiated and inconsistent with each other". Serco asked for interview notes to "check patterns" and help its own investigations but was told by Corrections they could not be provided due to promises of confidentiality - despite no evidence of "strict undertakings" being provided. Michael Heron QC, representing Corrections' chief inspector of prisons Andy Fitzharris, said video footage of the fights demonstrated the need for a thorough investigation which focused on prisoner safety and not Serco. "There's only one word that describes it, it is sickening. "That is not a criticism of anyone, but what it does tell you is...this is not about Serco, this is about safe custody." Heron said Serco's primary complaints were about the "tone and language" of the report, rather than the findings and recommendations, which it largely accepted. He said investigators had been "overly cautious and rightfully so" in investigating the allegations and making changes in response to feedback from Serco. The evidence from interviewed prisoners was obtained "in circumstances of confidentiality" and weighed by experienced investigators, and providing the names of interviewees could compromise their safety within the prison. Serco could also have undertaken its own investigations based on the evidence it had at its disposal, Heron said. Corrections took over control of the prison in July after the allegations were revealed, and last December announced it would invoke a six-year "break point" in the Mt Eden contract in March 2017 - a decision which was supported by the private operator. On 27 May, Haroon Ahmed walked out of the visits hall with a visitor, through the gatehouse of the prison. Michael Guy from firm Serco which runs the jail said: "This report recognises both the considerable changes there have been at Dovegate over the past year and the challenges faced in all prisons of tackling the problem of psychoactive substances, overcrowding and making our prisons safer. "We are working extremely hard to address these issues."

Dec 18, 2015 scoop.co.nz
New figures show Serco received $8m in bonuses
Serco has received $8 million in performance bonuses since 2011, despite Serco’s performance being so poor its contract to run Mt Eden Correctional Facility has not been renewed. Figures prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library, show that over $8 million has been paid to Serco as performance-related bonuses, over and above its normal contract rate, since 2011. The figure includes deductions made for poor performance and not reaching targets. “These payments were bonuses paid on the basis of Serco doing a good job, but what seems clear is that Serco has not done a good job,” says Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon. “The Corrections Minister must now review whether the payments were deserved, given what is known about Serco’s mismanagement of Mt Eden Prison. It is astounding that Serco, which failed to perform its basic job of managing a safe and secure prison, has received so much public money for so-called good performance. “The Government now has a duty to go back through Serco’s record and ensure that every performance-related dollar it received was deserved, especially in light of the $17.9 million injection Corrections received yesterday. “Within a year,
went from supposedly the best performing prison to the worst. “It looks like far too much taxpayers’ money has been gifted to an organisation that has clearly failed to do its job,” said Mr Clendon.

Dec 9, 2015 telegraphvoice.com
New Zealand to end Serco's management of Auckland prison
UPDATED 4.07PM: Private prison operator Serco's contract to run Mt Eden Corrections Facility will not be renewed. "The contract allowed for non-renewal after six years and I have been briefed on the reasons behind this decision", Mr Lotu-Iiga says. "In July this year I invoked the step-in clause in the contract, effectively giving management of the prison to Corrections". However, I fully support the decision he has made. "Since then, Corrections has been working to remedy issues staff have identified". We agree, and would be delighted if you could provide the facts contained within the two Inspectors reports into MECF; part one was due on October 30th and part two on November 30th. The resulting report is now subject to a judicial review, which Serco sought on the basis that it didn't have sufficient opportunity to comment on and respond to it. "Ministers will receive advice from Corrections on options for the future management of MECF early next year", said Lotu-Iiga, who will have relinquished a portfolio where he was seen to have floundered to Judith Collins, who is returning to Cabinet in a reshuffle announced this week. Mrs Collins declined to speak to NBR about the move on the basis that she's not yet corrections minister - although yesterday she was happy address Serco bosses via The Paul Henry Show, telling them to "Front up, come and meet me, we'll go through things - I'll probably go and meet you before you get a chance to come and meet me". Mr Smith said they'd been in charge of Mt Eden for around five months and they'd expect to be there for longer. That sparked a raft of other allegations about poor management and bad behaviour at the prison, and Serco's been under pressure ever since. Serco representatives have met with Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga to discuss their running of the prison. Labour's Kelvin Davis says the decision is a "humiliation" for the Government and proof privatisation doesn't work. Smith spoke to Serco's Asia Pacific chief executive last night, and the focus on both sides is to manage the transition carefully. He believes Serco's contract to run the Wiri prison should be cancelled as well. "Its population, movements and security profile are all markedly different from those set out in the documents provided to tenderers six years ago, and in the contract itself", he said. The department said the allegations of organised fights had been classified as a significant disorder event, which led to the performance downgrade.

Dec 7, 2015 stuff.co.nz
Private prison operator Serco has been the Corrections Minister's worst nightmare
Private prison operator Serco has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year and the Corrections Minister is now a casualty. Rising from the ashes (or more specifically, the back bench) is former Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who is picking up the problem-plagued portfolio, while also taking Police off her over-loaded colleague, Michael Woodhouse. It was Collins, who in 2010, reintroduced private operators to New Zealand's prisons, which began with Mt Eden Correctional Facility. Mt Eden is now being run by the Corrections Department following serious allegations of prisoner mistreatment, including fight clubs and claims prisoners were being dropped off balconies, at the then Serco-run facility. It was Labour's corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis who brought much of the controversy at Mt Eden to light and consequently he was rewarded with a boost up his party's rankings and additional responsibilities. Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga denied the move to put Corrections in charge was one of "no-confidence" in Serco, which has continued to run the Wiri prison in south Auckland. But the blows continued for Lotu-Iiga and just last month it was revealed Serco had gone to the High Court claiming it hadn't been given enough time to comment or respond to the findings of a report into alleged fight clubs. The report was due to have already been released but the high number of complaints from prisoners and their families meant it was given an extension and High Court action will only further stall its release. As a result of failings at Mt Eden, which also include issues around contraband and a staff member being suspended after being caught on camera sparring with an inmate, Serco is facing more than $1 million in fines. Cancelling the contract with Serco was still an option according to both Lotu-Iiga and Prime Minister John Key but that decision wouldn't be made until the review at Mt Eden was completed. Lotu-Iiga, a former Auckland councillor, will take on the Local Government portfolio, currently held by Paula Bennett, which signals he didn't do a good enough job with Corrections but didn't perform badly enough to be pushed out of Cabinet.

Dec 2, 2015 stuff.co.nz
Serco-run Mt Eden prison falls to bottom of Corrections rankings
Private operator Serco, which runs Auckland's Mt Eden prison, says it disagrees with the latest prison rankings placing it at the bottom. Privately-run Mt Eden prison has fallen to the bottom of New Zealand's prison rankings after months of scandal over "fight clubs" and alleged mistreatment of prisoners. In the Department of Corrections' most recent prison performance tables, for the 12 months to June 2015, the Serco-run Mt Eden corrections facility is at the bottom of the rankings - in the "needs improvement" category. The performance tables are meant to monitor and evaluate prisons' performances every three months, based on their security, internal procedures, and rehabilitation rates. Mt Eden's fall comes after it was rated "exceptional" in five previous performance tables stretching back to March 2014. Allegations of organised fight clubs and contraband issues emerged after recordings of incidents at Mt Eden were posted online, while a number of inmates have also made accusations of mistreatment The Department of Corrections took over control of the prison in July after the allegations were revealed. Labour corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said Mt Eden's "nose-dive" in the latest rankings put a question mark of previous plaudits for its performance. "I don't accept that between March and June of this year, that everything just went pear-shaped - I'd say that it's been pear-shaped for a long time, they just weren't on top of the situation." Davis said Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga and his department had been guilty of "wilful blindness" regarding problems at the prison. "You know, hear no evil, see no evil, just pretending that things were going fine when they obviously weren't." In a statement, Serco operations director Scott McNairn said the company did not accept its latest rating, and claimed Corrections did not give it a chance to review the latest tables before they were published. In September, 3 News revealed the private prison operator was facing more than $1 million in fines for shortcomings at Mt Eden, such as failing to keep serious assaults down and unlawful detention. Last month, Serco announced it was challenging a report into the alleged fight clubs in the High Court, claiming it had not been given enough time to comment or respond to its findings.

Nov 25, 2015 odt.co.nz

Prison going to court over fight club claims

Private prison operator Serco is going to the High Court to challenge ongoing allegations of having organised fight clubs among inmates in Auckland's troubled Mount Eden prison. The prison operator was fighting the accusations made in a draft report completed by Prison Inspectorate last month, Radio New Zealand reported today. It was revealed Serco did not think they "had enough opportunity to comment and respond", a High Court document obtained by the broadcaster stated. The draft was completed in two parts by Radio New Zealand. The first looked at the brawl itself and whether a fight club was operating at the prison. The second part wanted to look into Serco's protocol of violent inmates and how the prisoners were getting cellphones.


Nov 9, 2015 m.nzherald.co.nz

Serco training left new staff at risk

Serco became so consumed with moving as many prison guards as it could through its training school that it left its new employees at risk when they started on the job, a New Zealand Qualifications Authority report has found. In a report critical of Serco NZ Training, NZQA found the company's initial training course had been deliberately structured to tick the legal boxes needed to get new employees into prison and working. In doing so it created patchwork training leaving "Serco employees with the basic requirements to perform as prison officers" but creating "a risk to the employees working in a complex and high-risk environment like prisons". The NZQA report studied the private Serco Training facility which exists solely to train prison guards to work in Mt Eden and Wiri prisons. Serco Training is owned by Serco, the company which has the contract to manage the private prisons. Serco's management of Mt Eden prison - which the training facility is based - has come in for criticism after mobile phones recordings in the jail showed contraband and violence among inmates.The Department of Corrections took over management of the prison in June while an inquiry was being carried out. The NZQA report was critical of Serco NZ Training's systems which had seen 372 new prison guards trained since the company started in mid-2013. It found a heavy focus on the nine-week "initial training" needed to have a new staff member "legally recognised as a prison officer". But the "initial training" content plucked the legal requirements from the level three National Certificate in Offender Management course which aimed to allow new guards "consolidate their prison management skills" while building confidence through work-based training. Only 26 per cent of those enrolled had completed the full course inside the six months it was meant to take. NZQA called the qualification rates "weak", saying it was "largely due to flaws in the programme design" including assessment methods which were "impractical and unrealistic". Even if students had wanted to push on to the full qualification, there was a "lack of capacity in Serco Training to support trainees through workplace training". "Direction from governance (Serco managers) was overly focused on ensuring sufficient supply of prison officers." NZQA found Serco NZ Training "was not adequately resourced" which "led to a sacrifice in qualification completion putting Serco employees at risk of not refining their skills while operating in a complex and high-risk prison environment". NZQA found Serco's new prison at Wiri meant it needed "hundreds of new prison officers to be recruited and trained". It meant a "very high throughput of initial training." A Serco spokeswoman said recruitment and training of Corrections Officers to staff Auckland South Corrections Facility was a primary focus during the period under review by NZQA. "We are pleased NZQA found Serco Training met the most critical needs of training, ensuring all staff met the requirements to work as a prison officer. The report recognises that Serco Training's initial training course for Corrections Officers clearly provides new employees with the knowledge, skills and attitudes for this role. "Many of our officers are well down the track to achieving the extended NCOM 3 qualification, which will further enhance their ability to make a difference in prisoners' lives. Serco Training is committed to lifting the qualification completion rate for the National Certificate in Offender Management, in line with NZQA's recommendations." Corrections commercial director Julie Robertson said there was "no contractual relationship" with Serco's training arm. Under the contract Corrections had with the company, she said Serco was required "to have sufficient suitable staff members trained to a minimum legislated standard to deliver their contract". Since July, Corrections had a prison director and management team put in Mt Eden prison to "oversee its day to day running". "This management team has been helping Serco staff lift the standard of operation of Mt Eden Corrections Facility to acceptable levels." Labour prisons' spokesman Kelvin Davis said it would be expected an employer would help staff prepare as best they could for challenging situations. "If they are only getting bare basics, no wonder there are problems." Corrections minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga declined to comment on the issue.


Nov 1, 2015  New Zealand
Serco 'harangued' beaten prisoner

Serco's operation of Mt Eden Prison in Auckland is again being called into question. It comes after a French prisoner was assaulted and then returned to the mainstream prison, where he was assaulted a second time. Labour's corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis says the private prison operator then turned the blame on the man. "What makes this particularly distasteful is the way the Serco management went in there while the guy was still in ICU and basically harangued him. I just find that totally unacceptable." He said they should have left the man to recover. "It just shows their corporate nous. It's just totally wrong, on all levels."


Sep 10, 2015 stuff.co.nz

Documents released to 3 News show Mt Eden Corrections Facility operator Serco is facing more than $1m in fines.

FAIRFAX NZ Prime Minister John Key hasn't ruled out cancelling private prison operator Serco's contract once investigations are complete. Key said the good thing about private operators was the Government had the "capacity to fine them". "And they have a whole host of reasons why they can be fined." Serco is facing more than $1 million in fines for its failings at Mt Eden Corrections Facility. Documents released to 3 News under the Official Information Act show Serco has been charged a range of fines during the past 12 months for not doing its job properly and the costs could continue to mount. Key said while the fines looked "quite big" Serco earn "quite a lot off the contract and there is lots of moving parts to that". Corrections stepped in to take over management at the corrections facility after reports of "fight clubs" and contraband at the prison. While investigations continue into Serco's running of Mt Eden Key said "all the options are on the table". "That includes increasing fines, them going back and cancellation of the the contract - they're all still on the table". Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said public opinion was something taken into account in who ran prisons, but the Government was contractually bound to Serco. "We've got a contract with Serco at Mt Eden, and Wiri, and we're bound by that." Cancelling the contract with Serco was still an option, with Lotu-Iiga adding "all options are on the table". Decisions could not be made until the review at the troubled Mt Eden prison had been completed, Lotu-Iiga said. "I think it's prudent for us as a government to wait for those reviews to be completed and make those decisions then. "Cancellation is always on the table in terms of the options that are available to us." Serco is paid about $31.5m a year to run the prison. About $3m of that is made up of performance bonuses and fines can only be deducted from that, 3 News reported. Failing to control prisoners to ensure a safe jail cost Serco $50,000, unlawfully mixing inmates cost $100,000, not meeting incident reporting targets and other contractual requirements cost $150,000, according to the news agency. The biggest fine Serco has received was more than $315,000 for failing to keep serious assaults down. The first set of fines total $615,000, but the list keeps going. Since the videos of fight-club style brawls involving Mt Eden prisoners surfaced in July, Serco has received almost $500,000 more in penalty notices. The recent fines include unlawful detention, $25,000; failing to meet education targets, $50,000; failing to ensure prisoner safety and welfare, $200,000; breach of contract for serious assault rates, $50,000; and a death in custody, $150,000, 3 News reported. During the past year Serco has been hit with $1,090,000 in fines but the prison is yet to be fined over allegations of fight clubs and contraband. Key said he had confidence in Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga to do the job and establish exactly what went wrong at Mt Eden.

Aug 25, 2015
radionz.co.nz
Guard helped inmates with fighting technique

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga has revealed that a prison guard helped inmates with their fighting techniques in Mt Eden prison. Labour said the situation at Mt Eden was getting beyond a joke and is further proof that a fully independent inquiry is needed. At the weekend, private prison company Serco confirmed a staff member was suspended after being caught on security footage fighting with an inmate. Neither the company nor the Corrections Department would comment further while the Chief Inspectorate of Prisons was investigating the running of Mount Eden. Mr Lotu-Liga said the staff member was not fighting with an inmate. "[The footage] shows a prison guard on CCTV footage approaching a group of prisoners who were sparring, he then gives them some coaching on their technique. "Sparring is a banned activity and Serco was shown the footage on the sixth of August. Serco have suspended the staff member while the investigation proceeds." Labour corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the situation with Serco has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. "The Minister's statement today that a guard was coaching sparring techniques to inmates is completely shambolic. "An independent inquiry is the only way forward as I have no confidence whatsoever in the findings of any inquiry conducted by Corrections or Serco." Mr Davis said he was continuing to get letters about allegations of abuse and mistreatment in prisons some of which he had passed on to the police.

Mt Eden prison officer suspended after fighting with inmate

Fighting in prison is no new phenomenon, but filming them on mobile phones and uploading to social media has lead to an investigation by Corrections. A staff member at the troubled Mt Eden private prison has been suspended after being caught on camera sparring with an inmate. The CCTV footage that led to the officer's downfall shows the staff member being "knocked out", a prison source said. Staff fighting with inmates is just the latest controversy to hit the prison, operated by British company Serco. The Department of Corrections has seized control of Mt Eden following a string of revelations including concerns over prisoner safety and inmates taking part in organised "fight clubs", then posting the footage to the internet via contraband cellphones. It is understood the footage was not a cellphone recording, but was discovered as part of the review into Mt Eden being carried out by the Prison Inspectorate and the Ombudsman. A Serco spokeswoman confirmed the officer had been suspended after being caught on security camera footage fighting with a prisoner. The staff member would be subjected to a disciplinary hearing. "The safety and security of staff, prisoners and visitors in Mt Eden Corrections Facility is paramount and we have zero tolerance for violence." Serco refused to answer questions about when the footage was from and if it had informed Corrections about the incident appropriately. Similarly, Corrections Northern Regional Commissioner Jeanette Burns refused to say when the department had been informed of the footage. No comment would be made until the review was completed, she said. Labour Party justice spokesman Kelvin Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Serco since the allegations of fight clubs and prisoner safety surfaced, said the stories coming out of Mt Eden were "beyond belief". He had heard several staff had turned a blind eye to prisoner assaults and one source had told him of an incident where a segregated inmate was being led through the mainstream prison section by guards, but ended up being beaten anyway. "It just proves what I've been saying, Serco has lost control of the prison and the guards are obviously part of the whole mess and it's time for Serco to be sent packing." A spokeswoman for Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Liga said he was aware of a number of allegations involving Mt Eden Prison. "The Minister has previously expressed his concern about the allegations and awaits the outcome of the chief inspectorate's review."


Jul 27, 2015 nbr.co.nz
Multinational firm Serco faces a financial penalty of $500,000 after widespread allegations of prisoner mistreatment at Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, which it runs. Corrections boss Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand this morning he was likely to sign off $500,000 worth of penalties, with more to come. Last week Corrections announced it would be take over the management of the Mt Eden Prison from Serco. The announcement came shortly after Serco managing director Paul Mahoney met Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga to discuss a string of recent controversies over prison violence and organised boxing fights. "There are also other options potentially available to me under the contract. These include a final warning and early termination of the contract," Mr Smith said. He added financial charges “may be imposed” because of the events that have surfaced in the past week. “These are likely to be substantial," he said. On Saturday, Prime Minister John Key left open the possibility of cancelling Serco’s contract but said the failures did not give him cause to reconsider the government’s push to use more private providers in health, state housing, education and welfare. Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis has been critical of SERCO’s management of Mt Eden Prison, as well as the government’s reaction to the saga. He told NBR Radio last week that the private prison experiment has been an “utter failure in New Zealand.” He says the government should have known better, as Serco has a “dodgy reputation” overseas. “[The government] should have read the tea leaves and never even gone there with Serco,” he says. Last week, Mr Davis Tweeted that Serco is entitled to $1.2 million in performance-related bonuses. “I say give it to the people who have been abused in Serco’s care,” Mr Davis tweeted.

Jul 25, 2015 odt.co.nz

Private prison company Serco has admitted it received reports of organised "fight clubs" in its prisons two months ago, but will only investigate now, after fight footage was shot and shared online. The fight clubs were a "disgrace" and showed private companies should not run prisons, the Public Service Association said. Serco said today it would work with the Department of Corrections, the Ombudsman and Serco staff from outside Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) to investigate the fight clubs. A report is due on August 28. "I am currently at the prison, overseeing and supporting management myself," Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said today. "...We have tough new measures in place to further enhance our regime. This is on top of the existing security activity, which has included a full lockdown search of the prison. There will be more to come." Mr McNairn said Serco had received relevant parts of Corrections' report on allegations of organised fights in prisons. "We noted that the allegations were not substantiated, and confirmed that recommended steps were already in place at MECF." Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said earlier today he had raised concerns about the prison 18 months ago. Two people were appointed to investigate, but the association "never heard any results", and only recently saw the report, he told Radio New Zealand this morning. But Mr McNairn said Serco took its obligations to its staff, Corrections and taxpayers seriously. "We do not underestimate the challenge of operating this prison. We hold 976 of the country's most difficult and challenging individuals. As an inner city remand prison, we manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year. "Preventing violence, attempts to smuggle contraband and other criminal activity inside the prison walls is a daily reality. Our managers and staff work incredibly hard to manage these challenges." The PSA, which said it represented 3000 Corrections staff and 100 Serco prison staff, called the prison fights "inexcusable"."Private prisons are focussed on profit, not on ensuring safety for staff or rehabilitation for prisoners," said national secretary Erin Polaczuk. "Private companies like Serco are not subject to the same public service ethos as those directly employed by Government." Ms Polaczuk said staffing levels at Serco facilities were too low to ensure staff safety and proper monitoring of prisoners. "The prison fights are inexcusable and the whole situation must be independently investigated, and the Government must commit to bringing prisons back under public control."


Jul 24, 2015 Jul 24, 2015 sharechat.co.nz
Private prison operator Serco relieved of control at Mt Eden prison

Multi-national private prison operator Serco has been forced to hand back control of Auckland's Mt Eden remand prison to the Department of Corrections, which has used a 'step-in' clause in its contract with Serco following a string of increasingly serious allegations about contraband, prisoner injuries and a death. Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga and Corrections Department chief executive Ray Smith hosted a hastily arranged press conference at Parliament this afternoon to announce the decision, which was Smith's, cauterising what had developed over the course of the last week to be a major political issue and included calls for Lotu-Iiga's resignation. Serco will continue to earn fees under its 10-year contract to run Mt Eden and remains responsible for meeting staff wages and the operational costs of the prison, as well as becoming liable without compensation for all the additional costs of inserting what Smith called a "crack team" of as many as 20 state prison managers to "sort out" the problems at Mt Eden. The allegations about Serco's management include prisoners being 'dropped' from balconies in initiation ceremonies at the prison, resulting in injury and one alleged death, the transfer of prisoners injured at Mt Eden to state-run prisons to get them off the remand prison's books, along with forced participation in 'fight clubs' and the presence in the prison of illicit drugs, home-brewed alcohol and mobile phones. "Following a new allegation yesterday, I am pleased that Ray Smith has made the decision that Corrections will take over the running of the prison for the immediate future," said Lotu-Iiga. Similar takeovers of prison management had occurred at state-run prisons that had experienced problems, the minister said, citing the replacement of management at the Spring Hill state prison after a riot in June 2013. The Mt Eden furore has erupted just as Serco enters a period in which it renegotiates the terms of the second half of its contract for Mt Eden, with the government able to terminate the contract at any time between now and a "break date" in 2016. Asked what the chances were of Serco still running the prison past that break date, Lotu-Iiga said: "I don't know." The inquiry now under way into the prison's management was important to help determine the way forward. Under the contract terms, it could be broken immediately but the right course of action was an inquiry, he said. Serco's contract to run the recently opened prison at Wiri is unaffected. Wiri was developed as a public-private partnership and houses prisoners who have been sentenced, unlike Mt Eden, where prisoners are either awaiting trial or are being held prior to transfer after sentencing to more permanent incarceration. Mt Eden has a high turnover of around 4,000 prisoners a year and is acknowledged as a "difficult" prison to manage, said Lotu-Iiga. Smith said he had been in contact with Serco's senior executive for the Asia-Pacific region and had spoken to the global chief executive, Rupert Soames, in London, about the issues. It was inevitable that Serco would face penalty charges relating to the incidents that had been uncovered so far. The second phase of a complete search of Mt Eden was now under way. Hampshire-based Serco runs outsourced public services around the world in numerous sectors, employing 122,000 people in 30 countries, including Australia's mainland and Christmas Island immigration detention centres to house asylum-seekers and illegal migrants arriving by boat and air. It reported 1.5 billion British pounds in writedowns on the value of its contracts last November and was forced to go to shareholders for an emergency 550 million pound recapitalisation through a rights issue. It announced profit downgrades at the same time.Soames announced at the time the company would narrow the focus of its outsourced contracting to defence, transport, health, justice and immigration services for the UK, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand unit reported an annual loss of $2.6 million, including $1.5 million impairment charge on mobilisation and bid costs, in calendar 2014.

Jul 23, 2015 3news.co.nz
Minister puts Serco on notice over prison UPDATED

The operator of Mt Eden Corrections Facility, Serco, has been fined $300,000 over its private prison operation in New Zealand. Serco has been officially put on notice by the Corrections Minister over concerns about safety and security at the remand prison. And it's not guaranteed to have its contract renewed either. Under questioning in the House by Green MP David Clendon this afternoon, the minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said in the 2014/2015 financial year, the company had been fined a $300,000 performance-related fee. "Some of the incidents include insufficient staff levels, mixing accused prisoners with other prisoners, minimum entitlements and incident notification," Mr Lotu-Iiga said. Earlier today, Serco bosses Scott McNairn and Paul Mahoney met with Mr Lotu-Iiga in his Beehive office. Mr Lotu-Iiga said in the House nothing was brought up in the meeting which would have required the company be fined. He denied there was a "dysfunctional relationship" between him and the Corrections Department given a report into fight clubs in prison was done a year ago, but never given to him. The minister has said the meeting had previously been scheduled, but intended to express his disappointment in how the prison is run given allegations of inappropriate behaviour behind its walls. "I have made my concerns clear to both Serco and the Department of Corrections, and have laid out my expectations going forward," Mr Lotu-Iiga says. "Serco has been left in no doubt that their performance across the board needs to improve and that they are on notice." While Mt Eden was a "challenging environment" because it is a remand prison and with a transient prison population, Mr Lotu-Iiga says it doesn't excuse Serco from providing adequate safety and security. Mr Clendon questioned why the company had only been on notice and facing their contract being cancelled, given revelations of fight clubs, drinking, drug-taking and rumours of serious assaults. "Do they need actually to burn Mt Eden prison down before the minister will act decisively?" he said. "Unlike that party, we believe there is a process to follow, due process. There needs to be a review, we need to get to the bottom of the facts around some of the incidents we've seen in recent days and they you make the appropriate decisions," Mr Lotu-Iiga replied. The prison operator is in the period where it can renegotiate the terms of its 10-year $300 million contract with the Crown, including whether to extend the deal beyond 2016. When asked whether he would renew the contract, Mr Lotu-Iiga said: "I can't guarantee that that will happen. "We will get the findings of the review in terms of the incidents that were reported and we will make decisions, going forward, that will be based on their performance." Serco was tracking well in the nine months through to March 31, meeting 31 out of 37 performance measures, and hitting 13 of 14 key performance indicator targets that grant it access to performance bonuses. The company says it will cooperate fully with the chief inspectorate review into the behaviour in the prison including fight clubs, drinking and drug-taking which begins on Monday. It will look into contraband and incidents of violence in Serco-run prisons and those managed by the Department of Corrections.

Jul 20, 2015 odt.co.nz/new

Jail company 'knew about fight clubs'

Private prison company Serco has admitted it received reports of organised "fight clubs" in its prisons two months ago, but will only investigate now, after fight footage was shot and shared online. The fight clubs were a "disgrace" and showed private companies should not run prisons, the Public Service Association said. Serco said today it would work with the Department of Corrections, the Ombudsman and Serco staff from outside Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) to investigate the fight clubs. A report is due on August 28. "I am currently at the prison, overseeing and supporting management myself," Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said today. "...We have tough new measures in place to further enhance our regime. This is on top of the existing security activity, which has included a full lockdown search of the prison. There will be more to come." Mr McNairn said Serco had received relevant parts of Corrections' report on allegations of organised fights in prisons. "We noted that the allegations were not substantiated, and confirmed that recommended steps were already in place at MECF." Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said earlier today he had raised concerns about the prison 18 months ago. Two people were appointed to investigate, but the association "never heard any results", and only recently saw the report, he told Radio New Zealand this morning. But Mr McNairn said Serco took its obligations to its staff, Corrections and taxpayers seriously. "We do not underestimate the challenge of operating this prison. We hold 976 of the country's most difficult and challenging individuals. As an inner city remand prison, we manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year. "Preventing violence, attempts to smuggle contraband and other criminal activity inside the prison walls is a daily reality. Our managers and staff work incredibly hard to manage these challenges." The PSA, which said it represented 3000 Corrections staff and 100 Serco prison staff, called the prison fights "inexcusable". "Private prisons are focussed on profit, not on ensuring safety for staff or rehabilitation for prisoners," said national secretary Erin Polaczuk. "Private companies like Serco are not subject to the same public service ethos as those directly employed by Government." Ms Polaczuk said staffing levels at Serco facilities were too low to ensure staff safety and proper monitoring of prisoners. "The prison fights are inexcusable and the whole situation must be independently investigated, and the Government must commit to bringing prisons back under public control."

Jul 19, 2015 stuff.co.nz/national/politics
New Zealand: Serco fight club investigation widens

Fighting in prison is no new phenomenon, but filming them on mobile phones and uploading to social media has lead to an investigation by Corrections. The government-ordered review into leaked 'fight club' footage at an Auckland prison will investigate whether staff knew about or helped run the organised fighting ring. The Chief Inspector of Corrections will also be investigating whether similar violence was happening at other prisons. Details of the investigation have come after Corrections confirmed it was examining its "contractual options" with Serco, the company which manages Mt Eden prison where the fights were recorded. The investigation would also cover violence allegations and the use of cell phones in other prisons. The investigation would also cover violence allegations and the use of cell phones in other prisons. Video footage of prisoners fighting each other in cells and exercise yards was posted online, and has drawn condemnation from both the Government and opposition. On Sunday Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga announced the terms of reference for an investigation, widening the scope to include allegations related to violence and the use of cell phones in other prisons. "This behaviour of prisoners is unacceptable and I have asked Corrections to carry out a robust and thorough review of the incidents," he said. Serco was also conducting its own investigation, and the police could undertake their own investigation. Phase one of Corrections chief inspector Andy Fitzharris' investigation would look at the circumstances surrounding the incidents posted to social media and whether there were organised prisoner fights at Mt Eden Prison. "The investigation will pay particular attention to the last three months to determine whether this type of activity is widespread across the site or limited to specific units, whether management or staff knew of it, what they did about it and what measures have been taken to restrict contraband," Lotu-Iiga said. It would also look at "whether staff and management had knowledge of the existence of a 'fight club' operating, and any involvement by staff in its operation" and the "levels of supervision and security operating that would allow this activity to occur without staff intervention. "I also expect recommendations to come out of it to strengthen controls, standards and operating procedures if warranted," Lotu-Iiga said. The second phase would review the adequacy of controls designed to address prisoner violence and access to cell phones in other New Zealand prisons. "To ensure an independent view of this process the Office of the Ombudsman has been invited to monitor and review the investigation. Full cooperation will be afforded to the Ombudsman's investigator, who may also independently report on any matter concerning the incidents or its subsequent investigation. "I have already put Serco on notice over the incidents at [Mount Eden]. I will be meeting with Serco senior management this week and I am expecting a positive and strong response from the company in resolving these issues."


Jul 17, 2015 3news.co.nz
Prison fights sometimes 'simply entertainment'

Private prison operator SERCO is coming under increasing pressure following claims guards in Mt Eden Prison are encouraging organised fight clubs. It has now been revealed both the Corrections Department and SERCO knew about the clubs 18 months ago. The fights happen in one-minute rounds. Sometimes it is gang prospects trying to get patched, other times it is a way to earn a reputation. 3 News met one former inmate who says guards turn a blind eye to fights, which on the inside are called "contender battles". "Some of it is one gang versus another, other times it's internal gangs sorting out differences… or just simply entertainment," he says. SERCO has been plagued by allegations that its attempts at cost cutting could put lives at risk. The prison is struggling to find and keep staff, and topped a list for the number of prisoner assaults in the three years to 2014. Several inmates have told 3 News the guards not only allow the fights, but actively encourage them by putting rival gangs in the same block and sometimes placing bets. In a statement, SERCO says it is working with Corrections in its investigation, but goes on to say that for many prisoners violence is the norm. Corrections denies guards are involved, but admits it knew about the fight clubs 18 months ago. It says back then it could not find enough evidence to warrant a full scale investigation. Community advocate Richie Hardcore says this should be a wakeup call for lawmakers. "Eighty percent of people in prison were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their offending," he says. "You have to look at the environment and the context." SERCO's contract is up for renewal in 2017, but Corrections is hinting that it is reviewing its contractual obligations.


May 18, 2015 adionz.co.nz

The Corrections Minister is rejecting criticisms of the New Zealand prison system made in a United Nations report. In a report on how New Zealand is implementing UN initiatives against inhuman treatment, the Committee Against Torture has identified 13 areas of concern. They include domestic violence, the Independent Police Conduct Authority, over-representation of Maori in prisons, use of tasers and people-trafficking. The UN paper claimed prisons were overcrowded, had inadequate health services, and too much power to strip-search inmates. The Minister, Sam Lotu-Iiga, said New Zealand had one of the best corrections systems in the world. "I don't know whether I agree with the assertions that they make based on the evidence that I've seen. "I accept their right to make the points, but I don't accept that they are major problems in our prison system." Mr Lotu-Iiga said he would consider the recommendations, but he was comfortable with the state of New Zealand prisons. Concerns about private prisons: A United Nations committee said the Government needed to keep a closer eye on privately run prisons, which it said were more violent than comparable public prisons. On private prisons, the report says the rate of violence between prisoners and assaults on guards at the Serco-managed Mt Eden prison is higher than in public prisons. The committee says the Government needs to ensure private prisons are upholding the same standards as those in the public system. This is the sixth such report on New Zealand's implementation of the Convention against Torture, Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Almost every report has drawn attention to the over-representation of Maori and across every aspect of the justice system. While Maori make up about 15 percent of the general population they account for about half of the prison population - and that jumps to 60 percent for women.


Jan 14, 2014 stuff.co.nz

Private prison operator Serco has apologised to Kim Dotcom for his treatment at Mt Eden after his arrest two years ago. The firm, which has a well- documented history of blunders in its British, Australian and New Zealand operations, has also apologised to Fairfax NZ for providing incorrect information when questioned about the German internet mogul's time in custody. Dotcom was arrested on copyright charges after a high-profile raid on his mansion at Coatesville, north of Auckland, in January 2012, which was requested by the FBI and carried out by the New Zealand police special tactics group. The raid has since been deemed illegal by the High Court. He complained at the time about not receiving the toiletry pack supposed to be given to all prisoners when they arrive in custody. The "new-arrival packs" contain bedding, a towel, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Dotcom said he received none of those items, and was unable to wash himself after going to the toilet. In November he threatened to sue Serco over his treatment. When Fairfax then contacted Serco, it initially dismissed his allegations about the arrival pack. It said it had no record that any complaint was made by Dotcom or his lawyers over his treatment at Mt Eden. However, communications manager Jane Palmer has now said that statement was incorrect. Serco had since retrieved an "archived record" which showed a complaint was raised, she said. "We apologise for the error. We have also written to the individual [Kim Dotcom] to apologise to him." Dotcom said the apology, which he received yesterday, was the first he had received from Serco, but it did not go far enough. "They only apologise for the arrival treatment. Not for all the worst experiences that came after that. "I was fearing for my health and my life because they did not look after my well-documented health issues to a point that I was unable to see my lawyers because I was paralysed from back pain. "A flashlight was flashed in my face at least every two hours, sometimes more frequently while I was sleeping. "In my one month in remand I was constantly tired and did not have a single night of uninterrupted sleep. "They should apologise for those much more serious injustices." He said he also suspected prison authorities may have knowingly allowed a phone call to be placed to him while he was on remand that was designed to entrap him. Serco has run the Mt Eden Corrections Facility on behalf of the Corrections Department since the prison opened in 2011. Ad Feedback: Labour corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said it should lose its contract to run Mt Eden. "Because this is a privately operated prison, we rely on accurate record-keeping of what is happening in the prison. "We have always been very concerned Serco is incentivised not to keep accurate records because of the arrangement they have with the Corrections Department. "I do think it is concerning we have now seen an example of them keeping inaccurate records and, on top of that, not doing what they are required to do under their contract." Dotcom is awaiting a hearing on his possible extradition to the United States, set for April. Next Monday, which will be the second anniversary of the raid on his mansion, he intends to launch a political party, to be called the Party Party, at Shed 10 in Auckland. The launch will coincide with the release of his album, Good Times, the recording of which was interrupted by the raid on his mansion. It is billed as "an optimistic LP full of pop-dance music perfect to party to".


Nov 27, 2013 stuff.co.nz

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will sue private-prison operator Serco over what he describes as his "inhumane treatment" at Mt Eden Prison. Serco said it had no record of his complaints on file, even though Dotcom said he filled in more than a dozen forms while on remand, complaining about his treatment at the prison. He also had his lawyers write to Serco on his behalf. Dotcom alleged in a book published on Monday that he had been denied food, blankets, a towel, soap and toilet paper during his first evening in the Serco-managed Mt Eden Prison, following his arrest on US-based copyright charges last year. That meant he had nothing to clean himself with after going to the toilet. He and his co-accused were told the basic hygiene needs could wait until the next day, he said. Dotcom also accused Serco of neglecting his health care and said he believed prison authorities had been complicit in an attempt to entrap him. A guard allowed a fraudulent call, which was supposedly from his lawyer, to be placed to him outside normal business hours by a person who then claimed to be a prosecutor working on his case and who requested a bribe, he said. "At some point in the future I am definitely going to take [Serco] to court," he said. A Serco spokeswoman told Fairfax in a written statement this week that none of the allegations had been raised with the company previously, and it had received no complaints corresponding to the allegations. Dotcom said that was "plainly false". "I wrote while I was in Mt Eden a dozen reports and complaints and made everything that was wrong there official," he said. "They have these forms you have to fill out. While I was there I filled out more than a dozen forms. "My lawyers wrote several letters to Serco while I was in prison pointing those things out." His lawyer, Paul Davidson QC, had written to Serco asking it to find out the source of the fraudulent call, he said. Serco's spokeswoman said she had made inquiries of people at Mt Eden Prison before issuing her statement to Fairfax Media on Tuesday. "We pulled out Mr Dotcom's file, we reviewed his allegations versus what was in that file, and there were no comments of that nature in his file," she said. The Corrections Department has described Dotcom's allegations about his treatment at Mt Eden as an "operational matter" best addressed by Serco. Labour's corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said that was "not good enough" and the department should be accountable. She said the allegation regarding the fraudulent phone call in particular was "quite significant".


Nov 27, 2013 stuff.co.nz

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will sue private-prison operator Serco over what he describes as his "inhumane treatment" at Mt Eden Prison. Serco said it had no record of his complaints on file, even though Dotcom said he filled in more than a dozen forms while on remand, complaining about his treatment at the prison. He also had his lawyers write to Serco on his behalf. Dotcom alleged in a book published on Monday that he had been denied food, blankets, a towel, soap and toilet paper during his first evening in the Serco-managed Mt Eden Prison, following his arrest on US-based copyright charges last year. That meant he had nothing to clean himself with after going to the toilet. He and his co-accused were told the basic hygiene needs could wait until the next day, he said. Dotcom also accused Serco of neglecting his health care and said he believed prison authorities had been complicit in an attempt to entrap him. A guard allowed a fraudulent call, which was supposedly from his lawyer, to be placed to him outside normal business hours by a person who then claimed to be a prosecutor working on his case and who requested a bribe, he said. "At some point in the future I am definitely going to take [Serco] to court," he said. A Serco spokeswoman told Fairfax in a written statement this week that none of the allegations had been raised with the company previously, and it had received no complaints corresponding to the allegations. Dotcom said that was "plainly false". "I wrote while I was in Mt Eden a dozen reports and complaints and made everything that was wrong there official," he said. "They have these forms you have to fill out. While I was there I filled out more than a dozen forms. "My lawyers wrote several letters to Serco while I was in prison pointing those things out." His lawyer, Paul Davidson QC, had written to Serco asking it to find out the source of the fraudulent call, he said. Serco's spokeswoman said she had made inquiries of people at Mt Eden Prison before issuing her statement to Fairfax Media on Tuesday. "We pulled out Mr Dotcom's file, we reviewed his allegations versus what was in that file, and there were no comments of that nature in his file," she said. The Corrections Department has described Dotcom's allegations about his treatment at Mt Eden as an "operational matter" best addressed by Serco. Labour's corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said that was "not good enough" and the department should be accountable. She said the allegation regarding the fraudulent phone call in particular was "quite significant".

 

Oct 25, 2013 radionz.co.nz

The chief executive of British prison operator Serco has quit as part of a major reorganisation following a series of scandals. Serco has more than 120,000 staff in more than 30 countries, including New Zealand where it runs the private Mount Eden remand prison. Chris Hyman has resigned from Serco. AFP It will also run a new $840 million jail in Wiri, south of Auckland, when it opens in 2015. The British Government, which accounts for about 25% of Serco's revenue, announced three months ago it would not award the company any new contracts pending a review of existing ones. An audit found Serco and a rival company had both charged for tagging criminals who were dead, in prison or not being monitored. Serco says British chief executive Chris Hyman has resigned and has been replaced by the group's chief operating officer, Reuters reports. As part of a company-wide overhaul, Serco says it will strengthen its board by adding three new non-executive directors. In New Zealand, Serco has twice been fined $150,000 for letting inmates escape. The company was ordered to make operational changes as a result.


4 Jun 5, 2013 nzherald.co.nz

Prisoners in privately run Mt Eden Corrections Facility were able to access the internet through faulty computer kiosks a security review of public sector computer systems has found. The security breach was one of 12 "weak points" identified in Government Chief Information Officer Colin McDonald's review of the security of 215 publicly accessible state sector agency IT systems released this morning. Serco, the company which operates Mt Eden said that on November 26 last year, "an administrative error made it possible to open a web browser session" on kiosks provided to prisoners to allow them to "take responsibility for organising their day-to-day lives and helps to develop literacy and numeracy skills". Serco's Director of Operations Scott McNairn said the error "allowed for limited access to the internet, policed by a web filter which blocked access to inappropriate sites". "No email, social media or adult sites were accessed." The internet access was "limited" and "at no time was it possible to access any other systems or information". Serco has not said how long prisoners were able to access the internet for. Mr McNairn said the company had improved security for the kiosks and was "confident" that the likelihood of further problems was "extremely low". The other issues identified in Mr McDonald's review were at: Careers NZ, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Education, EQC, Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, Ministry of Justice, Maritime NZ, MidCentral DHB, Trade and Enterprise, Ministry of Social Development, Tertiary Education Commission. "Action has been taken and the systems are now secure", Mr McDonald said. "There is no evidence any of these weak points lead to a breach of privacy or information security." Mr McDonald's review was initiated in October last year in response to revelations that private data could be obtained via the Ministry of Social Development's public computer kiosks. State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie this morning confirmed the report was completed late last year but departments had been working on their response since then. The issue of public trust in Government agencies' ability to handle private information appropriately was an increasingly important one, Mr Rennie said. The public was now much more aware of the issue and much less tolerant of misuse of their information. "We need to raise our game considerably around how we handle people's information." Mr McDonald said there "will always be a level of risk in this area that must be managed" but the review's key finding was that the management of privacy and information security "is not always meeting best practice and needs to improve". There was currently too much reliance on work done by IT staff and contractors and not sufficient oversight by senior managers or independent assurance that security standards were being met. Mr Rennie said "a plan of action" was no underway to address issues identified by the review. That include the immediate action taken to strengthen security begun when the review was completed in December. Agencies also had to show by April this year that they had conducted a "detailed risk assessment of their publicly accessible systems". Agencies will also have to provide security assessments to Mr McDonald by the end of next month and again by the end of March next year, "along with reports about the steps they have taken address privacy and security issues". "This is an issue about moving the whole system up in terms of the level of performance", Mr Rennie said. State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman said New Zealanders expected government agencies "will be doing everything they can to ensure the integrity of public sector ICT systems". "We expect every public service department and agency to comply fully with the agreed plan of action."

August 17, 2012 Radio New Zealand
New Zealand's only private prison operator, Serco, has been hit with another $150,000 fine for letting a second inmate escape. Graham Hay, an inmate at Auckland's Mt Eden Prison, spent 30 minutes on the run after undergoing an eye procedure at the Greenlane Clinical Centre in early June. An official report has found a non-standard pair of handcuffs was used to lock Hay to one of two guards escorting him to the appointment. The larger-than-usual cuffs slipped off Hay's wrist, allowing him to escape before he was caught by a police dog. The report says the incorrect handcuffs were used because prison officers had not properly checked the equipment beforehand. None of Serco's staff have been sacked as a result, although managing director Paul Mahoney says it has issued written warnings to some staff. The company has been ordered to make operational changes. Last year, Serco was fined $150,000 following the escape of inmate Aaron Forden. The Corrections Department is in charge of overseeing Serco's $300 million contract with the New Zealand Government. Deputy chief executive Christine Stevenson says Hay's escape was avoidable and the fine is warranted.

July 5, 2012 Stuff
Private prison operator Serco has failed to meet half of its performance targets since taking over Auckland's Mt Eden Prison. A report card on Serco's performance released today reveals three inmates were wrongly released, one escaped and there were three wrongful detentions. The percentage of sentenced prisoners with an appropriate plan in place within required timeframes was only 28 per cent - two thirds lower than the 90 per cent target. Of 37 targets Serco was to meet in the nine months to April half weren't met. Corrections said Serco had accepted responsibility for one wrongful release. To date the final decision on whether they'd be fined on a second wrongful release had not been made, and discussions between both parties about whether they'd followed correct operational processes were ongoing. Corrections are to issue a performance notice for a third wrongful release that occurred in March. During its first quarter running the prison Serco was fined $150,000 after prisoner Aaron Forden escaped in February. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" escaped along with another inmate who was caught almost immediately. The firm was also fined $25,000 for releasing one inmate early and $50,000 for failing to file progress reports. Escapes and wrongful releases are listed as zero targets.

June 6, 2012 Auckland Now
Private prison operator Serco could be slapped with its second $150,000 fine this year after a prisoner escaped after getting his eyes checked on Sunday. A Mt Eden prisoner spent 30 minutes on the run after escaping while being escorted from the Greenlane Clinical Centre. The police dog unit and prison duty staff found him hiding in a garden shed at a property in Claude Rd, about 600 metres from the clinic. Auckland District Health Board spokesman Mark Fenwick said the prisoner escaped while being escorted back to the vehicle after receiving his treatment. The man is back in prison and faces charges of escaping custody. Serco, who are contracted by Corrections to manage the prison, would not comment on how the prisoner escaped. An internal inquiry is underway. Under Serco's contract with Corrections they can be fined $150,000 every time a prisoner escapes. They were fined in February after serial escaper Aaron Forden fled the prison after breaking into a service way in October, 2011.

April 27, 2012 New Zealand Herald
Private prison operators Serco have failed to meet several key performance measures since taking over running the Mt Eden Corrections Facility, a Corrections Department report shows. The report, released under the Official Information Act, shows two wrongful releases and one wrongful imprisonment in the eight months since the Mt Eden facility was handed to the British-based company. It was fined $150,000 when Aaron Stephen Forden, a prisoner dubbed "Houdini", escaped earlier this year. All of the incidents are listed as zero tolerance areas under Corrections Departments standards. Corrections chief executive Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand Serco's failure to meet several performance measures was "less than we expect". "We have been actively working with Serco to ensure that improvements are achieved." Other results showed an 82 per cent completion rate on random drug tests at the facility - 17 per cent short of the standard required. Targets for prisoner management plans and telephone call monitoring were not reached. However, random drug testing showed only a three per cent return of positive samples. The Public Service Association said the results showed the failure of privatising prisons. National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said Serco had jeopardised public safety by allowing wrongful releases and escapes. "The department may be trying to write these off as 'teething problems' but they are no such thing - these are core procedures that should be right from the start. "This report shows Serco is failing in its number one priority - to keep the public safe." Mr Wagstaff said the report showed the "folly" of opening another private prison at Wiri.

April 27, 2012 Scoop
National’s prison privatisation plan needs serious rethinking after failing to meet basic performance requirements at Mt Eden prison, Labour says. Labour’s Justice Sector Spokesperson Charles Chauvel says that the Government’s plans to privatise up to a quarter of New Zealand’s prison capacity will worsen the already dangerous failure to meet requirements. “Figures out today reveal worrying trends in Serco’s management of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility over the last eight months “Of particular concern are failures to meet drug testing and offender management plan targets, wrongful releases, and an escape from custody. “Coincidentally I visited Mt Eden yesterday, as well as the state-run Paremoremo and Auckland Women’s prisons. “While there is much positive work being done by the staff at each of them, one of the obvious realities is that a level playing field does not operate between the public and private sectors. Many of the state-run institutions have to cope with legacy facilities and procedures, which Serco is unburdened by. “In light of that – and especially since, under National Serco’s slice of the corrections pie will double once the new Wiri Prison is built next year, and up to a quarter of all inmates in the system will be under their control – the public has a right to expect Serco’s performance targets to be met.

February 21, 2012 Northern Advocate
Private prison operator Serco has been fined $150,000 after a prison dubbed "Houdini" escaped from the new Mt Eden Corrections facility. Aaron Stephen Forden, originally from Whangarei, broke into a service way and fled the prison complex last October, having famously escaped from the old Mt Eden Prison in 2008. Forden was recaptured a week later and is being dealt with by the courts. The Department of Corrections said in a statement that improvements had been made to the security of the facility since the escape following a joint review into the escape.

October 19, 2011 3 News
Two staff at Mt Eden Prison have been suspended after notorious escapee Aaron Forden broke out of the jail on October 10. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" for his serial escapes from custody, was recaptured in Auckland on Monday after a week on the run. Forden was the first inmate to break out of the new Mt Eden Corrections Facility, working with another prisoner to flee through a service way. The second inmate was recaptured but Forden got away, in a suspected waiting vehicle. The privately-managed prison is run by British-based company Serco, which could face a hefty fine over the escape. Serco Asia Pacific spokesman Paul Shaw confirmed to NZ Newswire that two prison staff had been suspended "pending the outcome of investigations". He said he was unable to comment further on the suspensions while the investigations were ongoing.

October 18, 2011 Stuff
''Houdini'' jail-breaker Aaron Forden spent seven days ''laying low'' with the help of associates, after escaping from Auckland's Mt Eden prison last week, police say. The 30-year-old was arrested just before 7pm last night at a residential address in Silverdale. Police also arrested a 24-year-old female living at the property and charged her with being an accessory after the fact. Auckland Police Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman says the week-long hunt for Forden included visits to various members of his family and friends. Known for dying his hair and changing his looks while on the run, Forden's appearance was unchanged this time.

October 12, 2011 Northern Advocate
A man with the ability to change his appearance like a chameleon to evade capture could be headed for familiar territory - Northland. Police are warning members of the public they should not approach 30-year-old Aaron Forden, who is considered unpredictable and dangerous, after he escaped from the new
 on Monday. The notorious escape artist is the first person to escape from the new $218 million private prison. Whangarei Detective Steve Chamberlain said Forden had family and criminal links in Northland and that anyone who spotted him in the region should contact police immediately.

October 10, 2011 3 News
Private prison operator SERCO faces a $150,000 fine after the man nicknamed “Houdini” escaped from its custody. Aaron Forden scaled the perimeter fence of Mt Eden Corrections Facility early this morning. He was pursued by a police dog, but got away in a waiting car. Forden used knotted bed sheets to escape from Mt Eden Prison in 2008. “I would consider him to be unpredictable and therefore dangerous and that members of the public should not approach him,” says Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman. “But it’s only with assistance from the public and his associates that we will catch him.” Forden is known to change his appearance to avoid capture.

August 10, 2011 Stuff
Auckland's Mt Eden prison operator Serco has been accused of bribing inmates with bigger helpings of food and televisions in their cells to encourage them to behave. The prison officers' union, the Corrections Association, said that in addition to larger meals, Serco served dessert every night, unheard of in the State prison system, Radio New Zealand reported. Association president Beven Hanlon said the "luxuries" allowed the private prison operator to get by with a skeleton crew but guards were feeling vulnerable and leaving on a daily basis. Serco said in a statement the televisions must be paid for by the inmates and the quantities of food served and the number of officers employed were both appropriate.

June 1, 2011 Radio NZ
New Zealand's only private prison will begin housing inmates from Wednesday but concern has already been expressed about staffing levels. British company Serco is running the new Mount Eden jail for at least the next six years. The company's contract with the Government doesn't stipulate minimum staffing and the main prison guards union is worried the staff-to-inmate ratio won't be right. Corrections Association president Bevan Hanlon says the approximately 960 inmates were handled by 427 prison guards under public management but that number has dropped to 200 under private management. Serco rejects the figures, though is refusing to say exactly how many staff it has for reasons of security and commercial sensitivity.

New South Wales
March 27, 2009 The Australian
THE research director of a British-based group that is expected to bid for contracts to operate two jails in NSW has backed privatised facilities in which inmates have keys to their cells and are on a first-name basis with their jailers. Gary Sturgess, research director of the Serco Group, will tell a NSW parliamentary inquiry today that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatise jails. He says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges -- including being given the keys to their own cells -- in correctional systems where private and public providers compete. Prisoners in these systems spend more time out of their cells and have far greater interaction with their jailers -- with whom they are frequently on first-name terms -- than in systems where public providers face no competition, Mr Sturgess says. The results are safer jails and lower rates of reoffending. Serco is expected to bid for the contracts to operate Cessnock prison, in the Hunter Valley, and Parklea prison, in western Sydney, when the jails are privatised this year. The company already operates one jail in Victoria and one in Western Australia. The decision by NSW Premier Nathan Rees to privatise the two prisons has aroused heated opposition from public sector unions and the Greens, and is opposed by a minority of MPs in the Labor caucus. The privatisation of the jails is being driven by Prisons Minister John Robertson, who led the campaign against power privatisation as a union leader. Mr Sturgess's submission to the upper house inquiry links private jail services in Britain to the "decency agenda" pursued by former British prime minister Tony Blair. "Contract prisons in the UK are more humane, partly because government demanded a higher standard when writing the original contracts, partly because price was not allowed to dominate the procurement process, and partly because the political and policy environment at the time when the market was first established was focused on the quality of prison life," the submission from Serco argues. As NSW cabinet chief under former Liberal premier Nick Greiner between 1988 and 1992, Mr Sturgess drove a reform agenda that included the corporatisation of government enterprises such as the railways and electricity transmission. He told The Australian yesterday the British experience showed governments could use competition in prison services as a way to set higher standards, not just to get better value for money. "It gives a government an opportunity to say, 'What kind of prisons do we want here?'," Mr Sturgess said. He said the inmates in low- and medium-security prisons in Britain had been allowed to hold duplicate keys to their own cells, which improved both efficiency and decency. "If (the warder) is the only one with a key, then every time a prisoner wants to go in and out of their cell you've got to send somebody to look at it," he said. "This way, the inmate has the dignity of having private space and a greater sense of security." The higher proportion of women officers in private jails had changed the atmosphere. "The difference is that if you've got a prison full of males, with all the testosterone pumping around, people will attempt to man up," he said. "You're not going to get any credit for assaulting a woman." While such arguments will confound critics of prison privatisation on the Left, Mr Sturgess, as a stalwart of NSW politics, knows another obstacle will be the tough-on-crime stand of the major parties. "The objective has got to be to reduce the cycle of reoffending," Mr Sturgess said. "If the consequence of failing to address quality issues is that we do not break the cycle of reoffending, we're actually increasing the crime problem."

Northern Immigration Detention Facility, Darwin, Australia
May 12, 2013 au.news.yahoo.com

The Immigration Department says 18 Vietnamese asylum seekers who escaped from a Darwin detention centre overnight have been recaptured.  The department says the men, who are all rated as a low security risk, escaped from the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Berrimah. The department says the men came from three separate boats, intercepted between Feburary and April. It has sought an "urgent explanation from its service provider Serco about how this incident has occurred". The department says it is commissioning an independent review into the escapes. "We want to know how this occurred, and importantly what steps need to be taken to avoid a repeat," a spokesman said. The men are not considered dangerous. The Department has praised Northern Territory police for the efforts in apprehending the men, and returning them to the detention centre. Father John Kelliher, of the St Mary's Star of the Sea Cathedral, says two of the men were found on the steps of the church earlier this morning. He said they asked for assistance and wanted to make a phone call or get a phone card to ring family in Sydney. "As the police arrived, the two fellas tried to scale the fence and ran off," he said. "One ran up Smith Street. I think he was eventually apprehended by the police. "But the other gentleman had actually backtracked and gone and hid in the church and the police came and asked him to leave and they took him from the church."

Jan. 10, 2013 Cootamundra Herald
Conditions are appalling and fuelling rising client tensions.' A TOP immigration official repeatedly warned of ''filthy'' and ''squalid'' living conditions for asylum seekers months before a riot engulfed a Darwin detention centre, new documents reveal. A damning internal assessment of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) warns of a string of maintenance problems and substandard care at the facility housing almost 500 asylum seekers. ''Conditions are appalling and fuelling rising client tensions,'' the report notes, with boredom seen as a significant problem. The confidential report by the Immigration Department's regional manager for detention operations in the Northern Territory and Queensland, Julie Furby, paints a disturbing picture of conditions inside one of Australia's largest detention centres. ''A substandard activity program which in no way keeps clients engaged/interested/busy. It does not keep their minds off the negatives or length of stay/miserable day-to-day conditions, and certainly does not tire them out enough to sleep well at night,'' she wrote. The report, obtained under freedom-of-information laws, provides what she describes as a ''frank update on detention operations in the NT''. It was written in August 2010, a week before riots erupted at the Darwin detention centre, resulting in a fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage and injured a guard. Other documents claim haphazard efforts to give asylum seekers games to play - including a beach volleyball court ''too hot to play except at night now we are in the build-up to the monsoons''. ''It is clear that this centre was only ever built for fishers who stay for a few weeks and then move on,'' Ms Furby wrote in an earlier message. The problems inside Australia's detention network remain, with Christmas Island criticised last month as chronically overcrowded by human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs. Ms Furby's full report, contained in an email to the department's Canberra headquarters, remains heavily censored and was released only in part almost 10 months after an application by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network. But the publicly disclosed portions illustrate tensions between the department and contracted company Serco. Listing the reasons for growing tension, Ms Furby warns: ■''Filthy environment at the NIDC - squalid living conditions - despite this being raised with local Serco management repeatedly over the past months.'' ■''Lack of ongoing repairs and maintenance - Serco have simply not been managing.'' ■''Despite repeat requests … Serco have failed to implement an internet booking system for clients to ensure equity of access, saying they don't have the staff to monitor/enforce it - despite this being the cause of many of the incidents and fights in the compounds.'' ■''In summary, Serco is not managing to keep up standards in either [of] the detention centres … since the spill of clients from CI [Christmas Island]. Despite our best efforts to get these addressed over past months and weeks redacted.'' A spokesman for the department said significant improvements had been made at the centre since 2010, including a library, soccer pitch and outdoor barbecues. Toilets had also been replaced, with 332 people now detained at the centre.
November 18, 2011 AAP
SECURITY company Serco has been asked to explain why a refugee was locked in isolation after he suffered an electric shock while scaling a fence at a Darwin detention centre. The Joint Select Committee on Australia's Immigration Detention Network is conducting an extensive inquiry into the effect of detention on detainees, in the wake of a series of detention centre riots. Serco, which has a contract with the federal government to run the centres, was questioned today over a refugee being locked in a room by guards for more than an hour, after he suffered an electric shock while climbing a fence at Darwin's Northern Immigration Detention Centre on November 15. The man, who was declared a refugee a year ago and was awaiting security clearance, was reportedly attempting to see friends in another compound, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the inquiry in Melbourne. Ms Hanson-Young said he was only taken to hospital after he collapsed, then was again locked up in isolation after he returned. "In this scenario, which is a real scenario, who made the decision that this man was to be locked up on his own?" Senator Hanson-Young asked Serco managing director Chris Manning. Mr Manning told her he would look into the incident and report back to the committee on his findings. Senator Hanson-Young also asked him about concerns raised in a recent report by health and safety authority Comcare over underqualified staff working at immigration detention centres. "You don't have a client to staff ratio," she said of the contract the security firm has with the government. Mr Manning told her staffing levels were reviewed regularly. "They are based on a number of factors ... if there are safety issues then we would take a view on whether more staff were required," he said.

August 31, 2011 The Age
Asylum seekers are not to blame for two fires at Darwin's immigration detention centre, the immigration department says. A spokesman said most of those involved in today's fires were Indonesian boat crew also being held at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre. Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the Indonesians were protesting against the refusal to let them celebrate the end of Ramadan. "There were issues about how they were going to celebrate Eid with the end of Ramadan and that was apparently rejected by Serco (the centre's manager) or Immigration and that's been the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. "There's a lot of tensions with the Indonesians anyway because they're waiting months and sometimes a year and longer before they're actually charged." He said the fires were not started by asylum seekers.

July 26, 2011 Herald Sun
ABOUT 20 asylum seekers are staging a peaceful protest and hunger strike on the roof of a detention centre in Darwin, immigration officials have confirmed. About 10 men climbed on to the roof of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre on the Stuart Highway on Sunday but the number increased to 21 by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Department of Immigration told AAP. That number had dropped to 20 by 5.30pm (CST) and the situation was described as "fluid in nature". He said Serco, the security company that manages the centre, had engaged detainees individually and as a group since the weekend, negotiating with them to come down. He confirmed the detainees were "engaged in voluntary starvation" and said Serco would continue to monitor the situation and the welfare of the detainees. Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. .End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, claimed managers at the centre on Sunday threatened to forcibly remove the rooftop protesters and take them to jail, before more people joined the protest. Mr Rintoul told AAP a further 60 Afghan asylum seekers were participating in a hunger strike inside the centre, but the immigration spokesman said the number of asylum seekers inside engaged in voluntary starvation was closer to 15 or 20.

July 19, 2011 AAP
A ROOF-TOP protest at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin has gone into its fifth day, with asylum seekers refusing to come down. A Department of Immigration spokesman said three men climbed onto the roof of the centre late Friday. He said five men were on the roof yesterday morning. This morning, the spokesman confirmed, a small group of men of Iranian and Iraqi origin were still on the roof at 9am (CST). "The situation is fluid," he said.

July 17, 2011 ABC
A group of asylum seekers have spent days on the roof of Darwin's immigration detention centre protesting over the length of times their claims are taking to process. Three Iranian asylum seekers have been on the roof of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre since Friday night. Their fellow detainees say the protestors have been in detention for up to 17 months waiting for their asylum applications to be assessed. They are holding a sign written on a sheet appealing for their release, saying that "keeping them in a cage" for so long is more cruel than the way cattle are treated in the live export trade to Indonesia. The Immigration Department says the centre manager, Serco, is talking with the protesters to try to get them to come down.

February 4, 2011 The Age
INTERPRETERS for asylum seekers on Christmas Island have been working without accreditation or translating experience. A Melbourne interpreter said unqualified staff were ill-equipped to deal with asylum seekers' issues dispassionately. ''Some of the interpreters are not competent because they are not actually interpreters,'' the source, who had worked on Christmas Island, said. ''It's not up to Immigration. They are desperate. The number of clients has gone up and demand is shocking.'' For certain dialects, the interpreter said, it was impossible to meet demand from the pool of trained professionals within Australia. The comments follow a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, which found asylum seekers had been assigned interpreters who did not speak their language and were recording incorrect information on their asylum claims. Amnesty International Australia said the problems were common to detention centres in Darwin and at Curtin in Western Australia.

October 20, 2010 International Business Times
Federal authorities confirmed on Thursday that an investigation is underway on alleged security loopholes in Darwin's immigration facilities following the lapses that occurred last month, which was punctuated by a peaceful protest of detained immigrants who sprung out from the centre. An Immigration Department spokesman admitted that the Northern Territory Licensing Commission is conducting an inquiry on Serco, which was tasked by the department to provide for security on the detention facilities. The same official told AAP that Serco is delegating some of its responsibilities to MSS Security though he stressed that the Immigration Department has ensured that the security firm was duly reminded to only employ trained and licensed personnel and comply with all relevant laws. The spokesman also revealed that some former MSS Security employees were facing compliance actions and Serco has been cooperative so far with the ongoing investigation, which came following series of incidents in the past few months where asylum seekers rioted in the facilities, vandalised the centre and staged a protest action after breaking out of detention. Meanwhile, federal opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison warned that the government would be made responsible if allegations of unlicensed workers were made to man the immigration centre were proven true. Mr Morrison told ABC that the government cannot put the entire blame on security contractors since it has the ultimate responsibility as he stressed that "the government must ensure that that licensed operators are only ever used in the care and supervision of people who are being detained by the state."

September 1, 2010 ABC
The asylum seekers pushed through two electric fences to break out of the facility. The Department of Immigration has not said how the men were able to get out of the centre, which has two electric fences. But a refugee advocate says a member of staff may have helped the asylum seekers escape from the centre early this morning. Pamela Kerr from the Asylum Centre Resource Centre in Melbourne, who came to Darwin to visit the asylum seekers on Tuesday, says she thinks a detention staffer let them out. "It's my understanding that the men didn't break out of the centre, that somebody with a heart opened the door and let them out," she said. "There are very mixed feelings amongst the people staffing our detention centres." The stand-off lasted seven-and-a-half hours before dozens of police officers broke up the peaceful protest. The asylum seekers did not resist when they were searched and led into police vans, to be taken to the watch-house in the CBD. Before the protest ended one of the asylum seekers threw journalists a message in a bottle pleading for protection. It was ripped as police tried to take the note from journalists. "Help me please. I came here for protection, not detention," the note read. "Even the foreign forces are helpless and not safe in Afghanistan. Have mercy please, Australian people." Break-out -- The asylum seekers escaped the facility about 6:30am (ACST). The group gathered outside the centre's perimeter fence next to the busy Stuart Highway. Five men involved in the protest were taken to hospital. One man is suffering chest pains, three are being treated for heat exhaustion, while the other man is being treated for an existing foot injury. It does not appear any of the injuries were sustained during the breakout. Ms Kerr says the men are Shiah Muslims, a minority group often targeted on account of their religion. She says the men fear they will be killed if they are sent back to Afghanistan. During the protest the asylum seekers held signs that read: "Please help us", "Show us mercy", and "We are homeless, defenceless and we seek protection". Two of the asylum seekers told the ABC they were from Afghanistan and had been waiting up to nine months in detention. They said they arrived by boat and had since been refused refugee status in Australia. "Nine months we [are] here because that's why I want to go out to talk with you, all of the population of Australia. I need your help," one said. "My children aren't safe in this place. We don't know where is our family." Company may face fine -- Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the private company that runs the Darwin centre, Serco, may be fined for breach of contract after this morning's breakout. He says it appears the asylum seekers may have taken advantage of a change to procedures after Indonesian men charged with people smuggling rioted on the weekend. "Under the contract we can fine them for failure to perform to acceptable standards. I would say though that they are under a lot of pressure given the numbers in detention currently," he said. Senator Evans says asylum seekers could also face criminal charges relating to the incident. Serco is refusing to say how detainees managed to break out this morning and says it will not be making any public statements. 'Pressure-cooker situation' -- Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the Government's policies have created overcrowded detention centres. "What we are seeing up in Darwin is of great concern," he said. "This is a pressure-cooker situation." He says the Opposition has sought a briefing on the incident, but the Government has refused the request. "What all this is symptomatic of is a detention network which has been pushed to complete breaking point," he said. "There are more than 4,100 people who are now being detained by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as a result of Labor's failed policies. "This is the highest number of people being detained by the department in our history." A riot, also involving up to 100 people, broke out at the Darwin centre over the weekend. The immigration department says the weekend protest began when two men climbed a tree and refused to come down and escalated to involve the majority of the Indonesian crew members being detained in the centre for alleged people smuggling.

August 30, 2010 The Age
DOZENS of Indonesian detainees rioted at Darwin's immigration detention centre early yesterday to protest against their treatment, which includes mandatory jail sentences of up to 20 years. Almost all of the detainees are poor fishermen duped by ruthless people smugglers to steer asylum seeker boats into Australian waters. Their anger and frustration erupted into violence after two men climbed a tree inside a compound at the centre where 97 Indonesians are being held. When they refused to climb down, other detainees joined the protest which grew worse at about 8am (Darwin time) when rioters set fire to rubbish and mattresses they had piled in the grounds. For several hours 12 detainees refused to leave the roofs of demountable buildings, from where they yelled abuse. Some were brandishing two-metre long poles, which they used to stop security guards climbing up. At one point a metal chair was thrown from a roof. Screaming and banging could be heard from behind two high wire fences that surround the centre, which is in the grounds of the Coonawarra Naval Base, on Darwin's outskirts. Police eventually talked the detainees down and the situation was brought under control by mid-morning. At the height of the disturbance, Afghan asylum seekers were evacuated from an adjoining compound. An Immigration official said no one was seriously hurt. Investigators will view security footage before considering whether to lay charges. An official confirmed that the Indonesians were protesting about their legal treatment. Lawyers and several Northern Territory judges have described as an injustice the way the crews of asylum seeker boats are treated as people smugglers. Most of the real smugglers who paid the Indonesian crewmen a few hundred dollars to steer the boats remain in Indonesia where people smuggling laws do not exist. In most cases, the crew were told they would be quickly sent back to Indonesia after arriving in Australia and were shocked to learn they instead face long periods in an Australian jail.

August 13, 2010 Northern Territory News
SEVERAL asylum seekers and security staff were rushed to hospital after a fight broke out over internet usage in a Darwin detention centre. The 10 detainees and two security guards suffered cuts and bruises in the brawl. Earlier media reports said one of the guards had a broken arm. But Immigration Department spokesman Bill Power said: "That's not true. He said a guard has suffered a bruised arm. Police were called for back-up when an argument between an Afghan man and an Indonesian man escalated at the Northern Immigration Detention Facility in Berrimah about 1.40am on Wednesday. Two small groups started fighting while at least 100 people from the compounds southern blocks looked on. Up to four police officers and St John Ambulance attended the centre. But police said the disturbance calmed down when the officers arrived. Immigration confirmed on Friday the argument started over the use of the internet. "It was basically a small argument that got out of control," Mr Power said. Security company Serco has the $45 million department contract to look after more than 450 people in the detention centre and the detainees in alternative accommodations in Darwin. The fight comes two weeks after a Burmese detainee of the centre, in his 30s, claimed a security guard had assaulted him when he refused to take headache tablets. Immigration rejected the version of the incident, describing it as an "altercation". Mr Bill said the department asked Serco to investigate the latest fight. "We are always concerned when people take violent actions and we will look at it in our own way," he said. "The Department asked Serco to conduct an investigation into this matter."

New South Wales Government
March 27, 2009 The Australian
THE research director of a British-based group that is expected to bid for contracts to operate two jails in NSW has backed privatised facilities in which inmates have keys to their cells and are on a first-name basis with their jailers. Gary Sturgess, research director of the Serco Group, will tell a NSW parliamentary inquiry today that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatise jails. He says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges -- including being given the keys to their own cells -- in correctional systems where private and public providers compete. Prisoners in these systems spend more time out of their cells and have far greater interaction with their jailers -- with whom they are frequently on first-name terms -- than in systems where public providers face no competition, Mr Sturgess says. The results are safer jails and lower rates of reoffending. Serco is expected to bid for the contracts to operate Cessnock prison, in the Hunter Valley, and Parklea prison, in western Sydney, when the jails are privatised this year. The company already operates one jail in Victoria and one in Western Australia. The decision by NSW Premier Nathan Rees to privatise the two prisons has aroused heated opposition from public sector unions and the Greens, and is opposed by a minority of MPs in the Labor caucus. The privatisation of the jails is being driven by Prisons Minister John Robertson, who led the campaign against power privatisation as a union leader. Mr Sturgess's submission to the upper house inquiry links private jail services in Britain to the "decency agenda" pursued by former British prime minister Tony Blair. "Contract prisons in the UK are more humane, partly because government demanded a higher standard when writing the original contracts, partly because price was not allowed to dominate the procurement process, and partly because the political and policy environment at the time when the market was first established was focused on the quality of prison life," the submission from Serco argues. As NSW cabinet chief under former Liberal premier Nick Greiner between 1988 and 1992, Mr Sturgess drove a reform agenda that included the corporatisation of government enterprises such as the railways and electricity transmission. He told The Australian yesterday the British experience showed governments could use competition in prison services as a way to set higher standards, not just to get better value for money. "It gives a government an opportunity to say, 'What kind of prisons do we want here?'," Mr Sturgess said. He said the inmates in low- and medium-security prisons in Britain had been allowed to hold duplicate keys to their own cells, which improved both efficiency and decency. "If (the warder) is the only one with a key, then every time a prisoner wants to go in and out of their cell you've got to send somebody to look at it," he said. "This way, the inmate has the dignity of having private space and a greater sense of security." The higher proportion of women officers in private jails had changed the atmosphere. "The difference is that if you've got a prison full of males, with all the testosterone pumping around, people will attempt to man up," he said. "You're not going to get any credit for assaulting a woman." While such arguments will confound critics of prison privatisation on the Left, Mr Sturgess, as a stalwart of NSW politics, knows another obstacle will be the tough-on-crime stand of the major parties. "The objective has got to be to reduce the cycle of reoffending," Mr Sturgess said. "If the consequence of failing to address quality issues is that we do not break the cycle of reoffending, we're actually increasing the crime problem."

Nottinghamshire Prison
December 17, 2009 Liverpool Daily Post
A LIVERPOOL prison is among five in the country allowing its inmates to watch satellite television. More than 4,000 prisoners enjoy the privilege in private jails nationwide. Altcourse Prison, in Fazakerley, is among the contractor-run prisons allowing access to a “limited number” of satellite channels. The number of prisoners allowed to watch satellite varies according to behaviour. But Justice minister and city MP Maria Eagle revealed the number was currently around 4,070. The Garston MP was responding to a written question from Tory MP Philip Davies. She said no inmates in public sector jails have access to satellite in their quarters. But they do at Altcourse and other GS4-run prisons in South Wales and Warwickshire. The other private prisons offering satellite television are run by Serco in Staffordshire and Nottingham. Ms Eagle said: “In these establishments, satellite television in cells is generally only available to prisoners on the enhanced or standard level of the incentives and earned privileges scheme.” There are 84,500 prisoners in England and Wales, meaning around one in 20 has access to satellite TV.

Inmates at a Nottinghamshire prison have too little to do, according to a new report.  An unannounced inspection was carried out at privately-run Lowdham Grange by the Prison Inspectorate in March.  The study also said low staffing levels identified four years ago are still a problem.  Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers said the prison is generally doing a good job and is "managing some difficult prisoners well".  But she said: "They must provide more purposeful activity for the prisoners because that is very important."  She said the prison has "a low staffing level, inexperienced staff and a high staff turnover", but added the prison does have control of its prisoners.  (BBC, June 23, 2004)

Pontville Immigration Detention Center, Pontville, Tasmania
November 7, 2011 ABC News
A Tasmanian Liberal Senator has slammed the sacking of security guards at an immigration detention centre in southern Tasmania. Eric Abetz says 36 people have been dismissed from the Pontville facility, north of Hobart, which is currently housing about 200 male detainees. He says the Federal Government promised the centre would create much needed jobs in the area and it is yet another broken promise. "Tasmanians were promised lots of jobs and that it would be of real benefit to the Tasmanian community." "Today we have witnessed 36 people losing their employment and the Tasmanian people have a right to feel betrayed," he said. Serco, the centre's managers, insist staffing levels are adequate. A spokesman says the security guards were contractors employed on a temporary basis, while surveillance systems were brought online.

Premier Prisons, UK
August 7, 2006 Sharewatch
Support services company Serco Group PLC confirmed today it has held talks with potential investors over the possible sale of its investments in some of its private finance initiative (PFI) projects. The company, which was responding to media reports, said it would retain management of the PFI projects and the associated long-term service contracts in the event of any sale. It added there was no certainty that any deals will be agreed. Serco is talking about selling the majority of its PFI equity investments to I2, the joint venture fund set up by Barclays Private Equity and SG Corporate & Investment Banking, according to the Financial Times. Serco plans to dispose of seven of its 11 PFI equity investments, which are understood to be worth more than 70 mln stg, the newspaper reported. It is understood the investments up for sale include Serco\'s equity in the Joint Services Command and Staff College, a flagship PFI project, and the company\'s equity stake in Premier Prisons, the private prisons and correctional services contractor, although Serco\'s involvement in those projects would continue.

June 12, 2003
Support services group Serco has taken Wackenhut Correction Corporation (WCC) to court over the future of Premier Custodial Group, their joint-owned subsidiary The court action began just days after Group 4 sold its interest in WCC back to the company.  The companies are in dispute over the future of Premier's UK operations following the take-over of Wackenhut, WCC's parent company by Group 4 earlier this year. The action began on 6 May the court is expected to reach its decision by the end of the month.  Serco is claiming that the take-over, which had placed the 57% of WCC formerly owned by Wackenhut under Group 4's control, triggered a clause in the original contract agreement which allows it to buy out WCC's half of the company at 90% of fair market value.  A Serco spokesman said: "As far as we are concerned, Group 4's buy-out of Wackenhut Corporation triggered the shareholder's agreement and we are intending to exercise that."  Premier has won three PFI contracts to build and run prisons, making it one of the largest players in the PFI corrections market, along with the Sodexho-owned United Kingdom Detention Services and Group 4's own Global Solutions Limited.  (Public Private Finance)

Prisoner Tagging, Scotland & UK
Dec 21, 2013 publicfinance.co.uk

Outsourcing firm Secro has agreed to repay £68.5m to government as a result of overcharging the Ministry of Justice for electronic tagging services that had not been carried out. Following the conclusion of a cross-government review of contracts held by the firm and G4S following the overcharging allegations in July, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said yesterday a settlement had been reached following a contract audit. The total repayment covers both reimbursement of money owed on the electronic monitoring contract and for other costs incurred, including the cost of the review. It also includes £4.2m to pay the costs incurred after the MoJ announced that the contracts would be taken over by Capita by the end of the financial year. Cabinet office minister Francis Maude said it was ‘good news for taxpayers’ that Serco have agreed to make the payment. ‘We are confident that the company is taking steps to address the issues which our review has identified, he added. ‘Since day one this government has been working to reform contract management and improve commercial expertise in Whitehall. Everything we have seen has highlighted the importance of these reforms and we will be redoubling our efforts over the coming months, including through the establishment of the new Crown Commercial Service. Last year our procurement reforms saved the taxpayer £3.8bn, but there is more to do as part of our long-term plan to drive greater value for hard-working families.’ The MoJ’s audit of G4S contracts has uncovered ‘serious issues’ with invoicing in 2 further contracts held by G4S for facilities management in the courts. While the department said that it does not have evidence to confirm dishonesty has taken place at this stage, it has referred both matters to the Serious Fraud Office in order to establish whether this was the case. G4S and Serco are already subject to a criminal investigation by the SFO over the tagging deals. The government said it had also asked G4S to implement a corporate renewal plan. The firm has already said it would provide the MoJ with a £23.3m credit note after admitting that overcharging had occurred, but the department has not yet said whether it will accept this offer.


ourkingdom, Nov 20, 2013

Two outsourcing giants who tagged and monitored ex-offenders charged British taxpayers tens of millions of pounds for doing nothing. A new report reveals flagrant and systematic abuses, ahead of executives' interrogation by Members of Parliament today. Earlier this month, in the briefest of press releases, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it had initiated a criminal investigation into security companies G4S and Serco, following allegations that they had overcharged on electronic monitoring contracts. A few months earlier both companies had pulled out of bidding for the next generation of such contracts. Yesterday the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report on the matter. According to the NAO report, the Ministry of Justice first identified anomalies in data provided by G4S earlier this year, as part of preparations to retender the electronic monitoring contracts. Not satisfied with the G4S explanation the Ministry called in accountants PwC to conduct a forensic audit of the G4S contract. PwC began its work in May 2013, subsequently expanding it to cover the Serco contract in addition to the G4S one. The audit identified three charging practices that are at the heart of the dispute between the Ministry on the one hand and G4S and Serco on the other.

1. Charging based on orders vs charging based on subjects: One individual (the subject) can have more than one order imposed upon them. Even though each subject is monitored only once, Serco and G4S appear to have charged for each order, something the Ministry argues they should not have done. For example, Serco monitored one subject with four separate orders, charging for each order being monitored, rather than just for the subject.

2. Charging a fee after electronic monitoring has ceased: Serco and G4S were continuing to charge a monitoring fee when individuals were no longer being monitored. Examples cited in the report include: An individual sentenced to two years' imprisonment for breach of curfew conditions in September 2011. G4S removed the monitoring equipment in the same month. However, by May 2013 it was still charging a monitoring fee, at the cumulative cost of around £3,000. In another case Serco charged monitoring fees for over two and a half years after equipment had been removed following a breach of bail conditions.

3. Charging monitoring fees whether or not monitoring equipment had been installed: Serco and G4S have been charging from the formal start of the monitoring period even if monitoring equipment has not been installed. In most cases this might have resulted in an extra day of charging. However, the NAO observes that 'in some cases equipment was never successfully installed but charging nonetheless occurred for months or even years'. In an example cited by the report Serco tried unsuccessfully to install monitoring equipment at an address on multiple occasions between July 2008 and April 2012, charging some £15,500 over the five year period, despite the fact that the monitoring equipment was never installed. Monitoring into the next millennium: One of the most striking paragraphs in the report covers the different, and rather arcane, matter of determining end dates in relation to bail orders: 'Although Serco and G4S used different management information systems, our understanding is that both systems required an end date for an order to be entered so that those systems could function properly. As bail orders typically did not have specified end dates that could be entered both providers chose arbitrary end dates as standard, on the basis that otherwise there was a risk that orders might have been closed down before an appropriate authority requested that this occur. In the case of G4S this was set as being the year 2020, and in the case of Serco the year 3000. This meant that charges on individual cases could have continued until an end date was formally notified by an appropriate authority.' Taken together these practices were rather lucrative. The NAO reports that potential overcharges could be in the region of 'tens of millions of pounds'. G4S have offered to repay £23.3 million — in the form of credit notes, an offer the government has, apparently, declined. Serco has said that it will 'refund any agreed overcharges'. A further audit of the contracts is currently being undertaken. Both companies also continue to face investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. This should all provide extra spice to what was already shaping up to be compulsory viewing for policy anoraks everywhere: the appearance this afternoon of G4S, Serco, Capita and Atos executives before the powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

 

25 July 2013 bbc.co.uk

Prison ratings: 'Serious concern' over two private prisons There are 134 prisons in England and Wales Continue reading the main story Two privately-run prisons are among three the government has expressed "serious concern" over, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) ratings have revealed. HMP Oakwood, run by G4S in the West Midlands, HMP Thameside, run by Serco in London, and the Prison Service's HMP Winchester in Hampshire, were given the lowest performance rating of one. Oakwood and Thameside are among 14 privately-run prisons in England and Wales. There are a total of 134. The MoJ said action was being taken. Critics called on the government to "halt the privatisation of justice". The ratings come after private security companies G4S and Serco came under fire for overcharging the government by "tens of millions of pounds" for providing electronic tags for criminals. It triggered a government-wide review of all contracts held by the two firms. 'Deteriorated sharply' In the annual assessment a further 12 prisons were said to be "of concern", while the remainder were either rated as having an "exceptional performance" or "meeting the majority of targets". Separately, every probation trust in England and Wales was rated "good" or "exceptional" by the MoJ. Oakwood opened in April 2012 and is one of the largest jails in the country, with capacity for 1,600 male inmates. On its website, the prison says that it aspires to be regarded as "the leading prison in the world" within five years. Thameside opened in March 2012 and can hold 900 male prisoners. Winchester Prison, built in 1846, was criticised by inspectors earlier this year after two elderly disabled men were locked up together for almost 24 hours a day, without easy access to showers. Inspectors said standards at the jail had "deteriorated sharply". Prison reform campaigners said the ratings provided further evidence that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling needed to reconsider his promised "rehabilitation revolution", under which private security firms would be paid to supervise low to medium-level offenders across England and Wales. 'Fanatical obsession' Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "There could not be a more damning indictment of the government's fanatical obsession with justice privatisation than its own performance figures. "Last autumn, the justice secretary hailed G4S Oakwood as an example of what the private sector could achieve in prisons. We agree. The prison, ranked joint-bottom in the country, is wasting millions and creating ever more victims of crime." An MoJ spokesman said HMPs Thameside and Oakwood were "still in the early stages of their development". "Experience demonstrates that it takes up to two years for a new prison to develop and embed good working practices that underpin the successful delivery of positive regimes for prisoners," he said. The spokesman also insisted "decisive action" was being taken to address the concerns raised. "We are confident that Thameside and Oakwood will deliver the improvements required of them and will become well-run prisons that reduce the risk of future reoffending for the people they hold," he said. 'Significant progress' On Winchester, the spokesman said a performance improvement action plan was in place and "significant progress" had been made. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is responsible for agreeing and publishing annual performance ratings for each prison in England and Wales. NOMS looks at how prisons have done on public protection, reducing reoffending, decency and resource management and operational effectiveness. Performance is graded into four bands - four indicates exceptional performance; three means a majority of targets have been met; two indicates overall performance is of concern and one suggest performance is of serious concern.

12 July 2013 opendemocracy.net

G4S & Serco fraud inquiry: Five things the British public need to know about privatising criminal justice. It was a shocking announcement. Chris Grayling, looking more rattled than at any other time since he became Justice Secretary, told the House of Commons yesterday that Serco and G4S had overcharged his department by tens of millions of pounds for electronic monitoring services. Flabbergasted MPs heard that the government had been invoiced for the monitoring of people who had been sent back to prison. For people who had left the country. For people who had never been monitored at all. Even for people who had died. As a result, Serco will undergo a forensic audit to uncover the extent of the wrongdoing. G4S, perhaps calling the Justice Secretary’s bluff, refused to cooperate and now find themselves the subject of an investigation from the Serious Fraud Office. The scandal has already shone a light on the extent to which our public services are provided by these two companies. Combined, Serco and G4S receive around £1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money each year through contracts with ten different government departments – with almost £500 million worth of contracts from the Ministry of Justice alone. There needs to be much more public debate about the privatisation of justice as well as access to detailed information about how these companies operate, the profits they make and whether privatisation is providing the taxpayer with value for money. Here are five points that I think ought to be central to any such debate. 1.Handing the justice system to private security firms is Plan A – and there is no Plan B. While the huge number and value of government contracts G4S and Serco already hold will have surprised many, it is highly likely even more public money will be paid to these companies in the coming years. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) are currently planning to massively expand the number of people subject to electronic monitoring, privatise approximately 80 per cent of the probation service and outsource much of the court service to private companies. Without the involvement of large private security companies like Serco and G4S, these reforms will be impossible. 2.The Ministry of Justice is not very good at outsourcing services. This is the second time this year that huge failings have been uncovered in contracts between private companies and the MoJ. Just a few months ago, the department’s handling of the court translation services contract was the subject of damning criticism, with a Justice Select Committee report concluding that the ‘Ministry of Justice's handling of the outsourcing of court interpreting services has been nothing short of shambolic.  It did not have an adequate understanding of the needs of courts, it failed to heed warnings from the professionals concerned, and it did not put sufficient safeguards in place to prevent interruptions in the provision of quality interpreting services to courts.’ 3.There is no real market in criminal justice. The tagging scandal makes it plain that when the MoJ talks about competition in criminal justice services it only really means competition between Serco, G4S and, at a stretch, one or two other large private companies. If they are to continue to pursue their ambitious privatisation plans the MoJ should at the very least take steps to ensure that this discredited oligopoly is broken down. 4.Privatisation leads to less transparency and accountability. The removal and restriction of liberty are some of the most powerful tools at the state’s disposal – and should therefore be a crucial area of public inquiry and democratic oversight. But private companies are exempt from freedom of information legislation even when providing public services. Further, contracts between government departments and corporations can often not even be scrutinised by parliament, let alone the public, on the grounds of commercial confidentiality. 5.Privatisation can lead to growth in the wrong areas. The MoJ is planning to greatly expand electronic monitoring, with some predicting that the number of people tagged will rise from 30,000 to 100,000 under current proposals. However, it should be remembered that despite many studies and evaluations there is yet no evidence that tagging reduces reoffending or improves public protection. Electronic monitoring might be highly profitable, but is most definitely not highly effective. As in many other sectors, marketisation provides producers with an incentive to try and push up demand, clearly conflicting with the public good or taxpayer value.


17 May 2013 www.bbc.co.uk

Serco and G4S face billing probe over electronic tagging. The £700m tagging contracts were signed in 2004. Two major private security firms face an investigation into whether they were overpaid for contracts to electronically tag criminals. G4S and Serco will be investigated after Ministry of Justice officials identified potential "billing" issues. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the companies had promised to reimburse his department if errors had been made. Both firms defended their services and said they were co-operating fully with the audit. The contracts are worth £107m a year but unions say this could rise to more than £1bn by 2015. Report within weeks Mr Grayling said potential issues had been thrown up during the retendering process for the contract to track offenders by satellite. Electronic tagging is used to monitor criminals when they are released and to make sure they stick to any curfews. Offenders have the tag attached to their ankle and their movements recorded via a monitoring unit in their home. Any curfew breaches or interference with the tag is reported to a control centre. "I take this issue very seriously and my priority is to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent appropriately and delivers value for money," the justice secretary said. But Keith Vaz, chair of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, accused the government of failing to monitor the contracts "despite knowing the difficulties with G4S". "G4S and Serco currently hold 17 contracts with the Home Office and it is essential a complete audit of these contracts is now conducted," Mr Vaz said. Auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers will look at information supplied to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) by the two companies during the tendering process and the department's management of the contract. They are expected to report back on their findings within six weeks. "Our suppliers have told me that they take this seriously too," Mr Grayling added. "They are co-operating fully and they have given me clear assurances that if any adjustment is required to charges made to date, this will be put right promptly and repayments made." 'Rush to privatise' In a statement, G4S said it was carrying out the electronic monitoring of offenders in a "completely open and transparent way". "We have worked with successive governments to provide electronic monitoring services and under the current agreement, which started in 2005, we estimate we have delivered savings to the UK taxpayer of more than £2 billion," the statement said. Serco's Elaine Bailey said the company had "every confidence" in the service provided to the MoJ and would co-operate fully with the audit. But probation officers' union Napo called for the two firms to be "disallowed" from delivering services until the audit was complete, and criticised the government's "rush to privatise the probation service". Government plans to out-source much of the probation service to providers on so-called payment-by-results contracts were recently criticised by senior probation officers. Charities, voluntary groups and private firms like G4S and Serco stand to benefit from the proposals.

July 7, 2007 Daily Mail
Alarming failures in the way that terror suspects are kept under surveillance by electronic tagging have been revealed. Staff working for the company responsible for maintaining a round-the-clock watch on individuals linked to terrorism have no idea who they are monitoring. And the system itself frequently crashes - sometimes, it is claimed for as long as eight hours at a time. As security chiefs continued their investigations into the terror threat following the failed London and Glasgow airport bombing attacks, it emerged that: •The 'eye' which monitors the tagged suspects relies on the mobile phone network operated by O2 - making it vulnerable to a complete crash whenever the phone system goes down. •The system is rendered useless when some offenders take a bath - allowing them to use it as an excuse for avoiding detection. •Anonymity orders set by courts mean that terror suspects are referred to by staff as the "Alphabet Men' - Mr A or Mr B - keeping their real identity a secret from those monitoring their movements. •Offenders can remove the metal tag by melting it with a cigarette lighter. Last night the Justice Ministry pledged a change in 'operational procedures' in response to what it described as 'very serious allegations', while Opposition MPs demanded a Commons statement. The BBC's Panorama programme will reveal its own investigation into the tagging system, after an undercover reporter got a job at the Norwich headquarters of Serco, which has the £100million contract to run the Government's Home Detention Scheme. Serco is also responsible for keeping track of a number of the 17 terrorism suspects subject to control orders imposed by British courts as an emergency measure after the Government found it impossible to hold them without trial. At any one time, 2,700 criminals are supposed to be closely monitored under the tagging regime to ensure they do not leave home during curfew hours, which are usually between 7pm and 7am. The Mail on Sunday has separately been told that one network failure, rendering the tagging system unworkable in large parts of the country, lasted for eight hours after the O2 signal went down. Last night Serco denied the failure lasted that long, saying it had lasted for 'no more than an hour'. Offenders who abuse the tagging system also have aget out<$$> ready-made excuse - because the tags do not work in the bath. If an alarm signals that the subject has absconded, Serco staff who phone up his or her home address to check up are often told that the missing person is 'in the bath', where the system may not work. The company said that this only occurred if the bath was made of cast iron. But most older baths common in rented properties are made of cast iron. Panorama reporter Irene Kyme kept a diary of her time working for Serco, which has 29,000 employees in the UK and dozens of multi- million contracts with Whitehall departments and councils. The diary is not included in the programme to be shown on Tuesday but has been disclosed to The Mail on Sunday. Her entry for February 21 reads: "One of my team-mates took a call from O2 today who told her all of the network in the country might go down temporarily. This would mean losing contact with all of the [electronic tagging] boxes in the country. Her entry for the next day says: "I had assumed this [network failure] had not happened because I heard no more about it. "But today we all received several calls from subjects [tag wearers] saying their boxes had rung a couple of times and then stopped." On March 5 Kyme wrote: "More O2 signal problems tonight. We were given a pile of papers with hundreds of postcodes that had serious outages where we could not monitor the boxes. It was because O2 was doing engineering work all over the country. "I would have thought they would have arranged for a back-up system if they knew they could not rely on the O2 mobile phone signal." According to Kyme, the network was down for eight hours between 10pm and 6am. Serco, however, says the cut-out lasted for 'no more than an hour'. Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell, a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "People who come before the courts should not be handed over as a commodity to private companies that run private prisons, private prison vehicles or electronic tagging and whose motive is profit. "There is clearly something wrong with the electronic tagging system which needs to be looked at urgently by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. "I shall be raising this with the Select Committee. Whether it's somebody in breach of an ASBO or somebody more serious like a potential terrorist suspect, we particularly need to know whether any of those tagged can induce a malfunction. "This would be worrying at any time, but concerns have been heightened by the failed terrorist attacks of the past week." A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "These are very serious allegations and any failures will be thoroughly investigated. Officials will be working with contractors to ensure that lessons are learned, with changes made to operational procedures where appropriate." A Serco spokesman said: "We regret that the BBC over the course of five months have repeatedly refused to make their material available to us so we can address any issues that arise. "We will investigate the matters they raise and where necessary take action. If the BBC has identified areas for improvement, we will of course act on this." He added: "Even if the phone signal does go down, there are back-up systems to make sure that contact and monitoring is maintained. "As soon as the connection is restored, all the information about the offender's whereabouts during the period in question will be automatically downloaded to the control centre."

December 5, 2005 The Sun
A CRIMINAL was allowed to roam free after a second blunder by a jail tagging firm. Justin Keefe, 25, was meant to have been contacted at home and have a tag fitted after being released early from jail. But nobody got in touch - even after his mum phoned ASKING them to monitor him. The mistake has been blamed on Premier Monitoring Services - slammed for failing to keep tabs on jewellery raider Peter Williams. He had torn off a tag meant to monitor his movements before a robbery in Nottingham in which an accomplice shot dead jeweller Marian Bates. Williams, 19, was later jailed for life for his part in the murder. The latest gaffe came days after Home Office vowed there would not be a repeat. Keefe, from Streetly, West Midlands, who was jailed for eight months for two offences of affray, said: "It seems that nobody can even be bothered to tag me." Premier claim the blunder happened because private prison firm UKDS failed to fax them to say Keefe was being released. UKDS deny doing anything wrong. The Home Office is investigating.

September 19, 2005 The Herald
THE private security firm set to take over the electronic tagging of prisoners in Scotland has been censured for its failings in monitoring a teenager convicted of the murder of a jeweller while under its supervision. Serco, which runs Scotland's only private prison, has been awarded preferred-bidder status for the tender to operate electronic tagging on teenage and adult offenders north of the border for five years from April. However, the electronic tagging firm Premier Monitoring, which is owned by Serco, displayed an "inadequate understanding of its responsibilities", according to an official report into the murder of Marian Bates, a Nottingham jeweller who was killed two years ago. Mrs Bates, 64, was shot dead in her family shop as she tried to shield her daughter Xanthe from armed robbers in September 2003. Peter Williams, now 19, was a cocaine addict who had been in trouble with the law since the age of 11 for offences including burglary and indecent assault. He had been released from a young offenders' institution on licence just 20 days before the murder of Mrs Bates. An official report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation into the killing found probation workers and Premier Monitoring made a catalogue of errors in their supervision of Williams. He had breached his curfew order at least six times, and even removed the electronic tag that was supposed to restrict his movements, yet little was done. However, Premier failed to inform his youth offending team of this until the morning of Mrs Bates's murder, by which time he had removed the tag completely. Serco, which also owns Premier Custodial Services, operator of Kilmarnock Prison, is set to take over the contract for tagging offenders in Scotland from Reliance, the private security firm. Premier was criticised earlier this year amid claims of staff shortages and negligence at HMP Kilmarnock.

Prisoner Transport, Australia
Jun 15, 2014 perthnow.com.au
NINETEEN people – including five in WA – have escaped Immigration Department custody this year and remain on the run. And a Vietnamese man who gave his Serco escort the slip at the check-in desk of Perth International Airport last week is one of those still missing. Secrecy surrounds the 36-year-old man’s escape, with Serco refusing to say how many guards were with him, whether he was restrained and how he managed to slip away. The man dodged Serco guards in the check-in area about 9.15am last Saturday, sparking an unsuccessful five-hour search involving Australian Federal Police and WA Police from three stations. The search ended that day, but the man hasn’t been found. Detainees are not handcuffed, but Serco is warned by the department if a particular detainee is considered a flight risk. It is not known if they were warned in this case. Serco would not comment on the incident for “operational and security reasons”. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison would not say what was being done to search for the man, who he described as an “illegal maritime arrival”. “The Department’s compliance team is continuing investigations into the potential whereabouts of the man,” a spokeswoman for Mr Morrison said. “It would not be appropriate to comment on operational matters as this could impact the investigation.” Only eight of the 27 people who have escaped the department’s custody this year have been located. Twelve of the escapes and seven of the recaptures happened in WA. Eight people, mainly Vietnamese nationals, escaped from Yongah Hill Detection Centre in Northam in January, prompting Mr Morrison to call for a review of the centre’s management. The centre is run by Serco. Under its contract with the department, Serco can be penalised for underperformance – including losing a detainee – and potentially lose up to 5 per cent of the value of its contract. Mr Morrison’s office said it would investigate how the man escaped and consider invoking those penalties. It is the latest in a series of costly and embarrassing mistakes by the private contractor, which has a $50 million prisoner transport contract with the State Government, as well as the multibillion–dollar immigration detention centre contract with the Federal Government.


Jan 18, 2014 abc.net.au

The Premier Colin Barnett has ruled out ending the prison transport contract with Serco despite several recent prisoner escapes. 27-year-old Bradley John McIntosh-Narrier escaped from two prison guards at Joondalup Hospital on Friday afternoon. He is the third prisoner to escape from Serco guards in the past two weeks. Mr Barnett says Serco's performance is being scrutinised. "Obviously we're going to look very carefully at the performance of Serco, but as the minister has said you also get escapees where you have government run prisons, but the situation that happened a few weeks ago was clearly unacceptable," he said. The search for McIntosh-Narrier is continuing. He is believed to have stolen a car from the hospital car park, a black 2002 Toyota Rav 4 with the registration 1BFW 590. Police say he is considered unpredictable and should not be approached. Sightings should be reported to police.

Serco says McIntosh-Narrier vandalised property and threatened staff at the hospital, prompting the guards to shut him in a bathroom, where he made his escape. It says an initial assessment shows staff followed procedures in escorting and restraining the prisoner and that an investigation will begin immediately with the Department of Corrective Services. It also says it is having discussions with the department over the possible introduction of new prisoner restraint device, not currently in use in WA. The Department of Corrective Services has confirmed it will review the incident but has declined to comment further. A woman visiting the hospital said it appeared McIntosh-Narrier escaped through the ceiling of a bathroom in the emergency department. "With the mess that I saw in the toilet, someone very violent has been in there and totally demolished it," she said. "There's a big hole right above the toilet where you can stand and reach the roof."


Jan 9, 2014 The West Australian

The boss of WA prisons has admitted weaknesses in the security of prison vans were partly to blame for the escape of a dangerous rapist last week. Cameron John Graham was just weeks into an 11-year sentence for rape when he was permitted to move closer to his family in the north of the State for Christmas. Private prison contractor Serco, which runs WA's prison transport services, was transferring Graham back to Perth last Friday when he and another prisoner, alleged armed robber Kelden Edward Fraser, broke out of a prison van at Geraldton airport. The fugitives stole a car and went on the run for 36 hours, sparking a massive manhunt and a furious public reaction. New Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon said yesterday the reasons for the escape were "procedural and mechanical". Mr McMahon refused to give details, citing security reasons, but said security had been increased since. "I have put directives in place that fix those issues . . . and that is important because I need to know I can transport prisoners securely," Mr McMahon said. _The West Australian _has copies of new directives issued to corrective services staff, which may shed some light on the circumstances of the escape. Assistant Commissioner of Custodial Operations Jon Peach issued a directive on prisoner movements on Monday. "With immediate effect, all prisons are to ensure that, unless in a secure location or for the purposes of providing food, water or emergency assistance, any escort vehicle with prisoners on board shall have all doors closed and locked at all times . . . until such time as the prisoner occupant(s) of the vehicle is physically transferred out of the vehicle," the directive said. Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said he would be addressing the issue of the recapture costs in a meeting with Serco next week.

 

Jan 5, 2014 PERTHNOW

A NOTORIOUS rapist allowed privileges at Christmas and another fugitive were captured overnight as Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis was last night trying to contact the rape victim to apologise for the debacle. The shambolic escape also resulted in Corrective Services chief James McMahon yesterday cancelling all non-essential prison transfers. Cameron John Graham, 22, sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a mother, escaped from custody after being flown from his Perth prison cell to Geraldton to be close to his family for Christmas. Graham and another prisoner, Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, were captured after police used a plane to find their bush camp in the Mullewa area, near Geraldton. Officers were deployed to the camp where they arrested Graham and Fraser just after 1am this morning. The men were taken to Geraldton Police Station and have been returned to Greenough Regional Prison. Police say charges will be laid in "due course" and the pair will appear in Geraldton Magistrates Court later this week. Mr Francis told The Sunday Times that he was "gobsmacked" to learn notorious rapist Cameron John Graham had been flown from Perth to Greenough Regional Prison at taxpayers' expense to be closer to his family for Christmas. In a press conference today, Mr Francis said he understood the van door was unlocked and the prisoners were not handcuffed. He also said he had not yet received a formal briefing on the incident, but that he was certain that would happen this week. The brutal rapist was only a month into his 11-year jail sentence for a crime a judge found "difficult for a reasonable human being to comprehend." Mr Francis said he felt for Graham's victim, who has subsequently left the country following the ordeal. When Graham broke into the woman's home on January 15 last year he threatened to murder her children. He then forced her to undress before repeatedly raping his terrified victim in her walk-in robe. Afterwards he ordered her to drive to a nearby cash machine and withdraw $400. "I am endeavouring to contact her and keep her informed and say I'm sorry for what happened," he said. "I was gobsmacked when I found out he (Graham) had been flown to Greenough.'' "It wasn't until this happened that I even knew the department moves prisoners around the state to make things easier for their families to visit. "The move for him to go to Geraldton wasn't sanctioned by me as minister or the Commissioner (prisons' boss James McMahon). Clearly the people who made the assessments on this got it wrong. I am led to believe it was some senior prison officers who made the decision. I am trying to find out (who)." Mr Francis denied he had been missing in action yesterday as the fallout from the scandal continued. The Sunday Times understands he was moving house. Earlier, acting-Premier Kim Hames appeared curious earlier in the day about his colleague's whereabouts when he was left to face questions from the media. Dr Hames said: "I don't know where he is. He is not my responsibility." "I don't know the circumstances behind Joe not being able to talk today. The Minister has a full understanding of the implications of his responsibilities as a Minister. It's up to him to make those decisions and up to the Premier to make judgments on whether those decisions are accurate or not." The escape has increased heat on Serco, the private company responsible for prisoner transfer. In a thinly-veiled threat to the contractor, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis told The Sunday Times last night: "Of course I am disappointed in Serco. They are skating on thin ice.'' He also said today that if the company were good 'corporate citizens', they would foot the bill of the manhunt. In the wake of the security failure, Commissioner McMahon also ordered a review of the prisoner transfer process, as the State Opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.' Mr McMahon said that as a result of the incident only prison transfers approved by him would go ahead. "At the department we take this very seriously. Our ultimate job is to provide safety to the community," he said. "We failed. The ultimate responsibility for that is me. Let me very clear about that." He added: "I think it is an outrage. I am going to get to the bottom of it." Mr McMahon also put Serco on notice. Serco was transporting the escapees. "There have been a number of incidents that have come across my desk that have involved Serco," he said. "Do I have concerns? Absolutely I do. And I am reviewing that in its entirety. "I will be making my point very strongly and clearly to Serco that the minimum requirement I require of any organisation that are trans-porting people from a custodial perspective is that it needs to be done securely." Opposition spokesman for corrective services Paul Papalia said yesterday Labor would move a motion calling for the inquiry when parliament resumes next month. Mr Papalia said it was "inconceivable" that one month after starting his jail term Graham would be transferred from maximum security at a Perth prison - believed to be Hakea - to medium-security Greenough Regional Prison to be closer to his family for Christmas. Mr Papalia said that Graham did not deserve the festive season perk and the "risks were too high''. Mr Papalia said: " Corrective Services minister Joe Francis needs to provide the community a full explanation as to why this perk was allowed. "When parliament resumes we will attempt to have this investigated and (we) want the government's support. "In this case, it would appear the prisoner was transferred to Greenough so that his family could go and see him in prison - just one month after he was sentenced. "This is a guy (Mr Francis) who chases publicity for self promotion and spin but is shy when there is an issue. I will be writing to the Minister and asking him for the specific process that occurs for transfers of Mr McMahon said a detailed investigation was also being conducted by Serco. Mr Papalia said Serco should also be part of the inquiry. "Serco has had a series of failures in the past few months,'' Mr Papalia said. Graham was being transferred back to Perth on Friday when he kicked the door out of a prison van at Geraldton airport and stole a rental car at 1pm. Fraser, 23, on remand at Greenough for alleged armed robbery, also escaped with him. The car allegedly stolen by the pair was found bogged 39km north of Mullewa. Police officers had resumed the search at first light yesterday after reports the escapees were seen refuelling at a BP service station in Cue, 651km northeast of Perth, about 8.30pm on Friday. They were seen by police travelling along Great Northern Highway but disappeared 15km north of Mount Magnet. About 2.30am, police spotted the car on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd heading east. A car chase ensued but officers lost them. Police last night used helicopters and night-vision equipment to locate the men. Serco declined to comment.


Jun 1, 2013 brisbanetimes.com.au

A whistleblower employee of a security company with a $1.8 billion Australian government contract says its managers routinely underplay risks of guarding asylum seekers and prisoners to cut costs, putting the public at risk. The man who holds a senior position in Serco Asia Pacific, which provides security for immigration detention centres, has leaked in-confidence documents to Fairfax Media detailing how the company misjudged recent operations that led to escapes. “The operational plans are always incomplete and usually just a cut-and-paste job,” said the whistleblower working in the company. “This is what they have been directed to do to save time ... the director calls it generic cost-effective planning.” Documents show that German-born criminal Carlo Konstantin Kohl, who escaped from Bangkok airport two weeks ago, had a history of violence, had been addicted to drugs and was rated as “dangerous” under Aviation Transport Security Regulations. But documents show that two Serco guards, a man and woman, who were assigned to travel with him on commercial flights from Australia to Germany, were given documents telling them he was unlikely to attempt to escape or to “commit an unlawful interference with aviation”. A Thai police investigation found the guards were asleep when Kohl wandered around the airport before escaping through a fire exit door on May 16. He is still on the run in Thailand with a reward for his capture. Documents show that only three Serco staff were assigned to escort 18 Vietnamese detainees from an immigration detention centre in Darwin to church on 28 April, including Van Binh Tran who had been assessed as “medium risk”. Tran and another prisoner, Van Hung Ngyuen, escaped while the guards smoked and talked outside the church during mass, said the whistleblower who asked for anonymity. Despite that escape, only six Serco staff were assigned to guard 28 Vietnamese detainees during an outing from the Darwin immigration centre to a clinic for X-rays when six of them escaped on May 21. “The planning and risk assessments were not done,” the whistleblower said. The whistleblower, who works in the company's transport and escort branch, also claimed that an inadequate security assessment was made for career PNG-born criminal and heroin addict Solomon Baker who fell to his death from a hospital in the Sydney suburb of Liverpool on April 19. Baker, 33, who was being deported to PNG after living in Australia since he was a child, had warned Serco staff at Sydney's Villawood detention centre in 2011 he was prepared to use “any violence required” to avoid being returned to his home country after he had punched a guard 10 times. He attacked two staff at the hospital before he died. The whistleblower said he decided to break the company's strict secrecy rules “in the hope the attention will force Serco to improve and stop thinking about the bottom line and more about the big picture.” “At the moment they are getting a flogging but still don't care about our reputation as long as the money rolls in,” he said. “What is happening is disgraceful and is placing not only our lives at risk but the lives and general safety of the Australian public.” Serco spokesman Paul Shaw said the company was committed to preventing escapes and protecting staff and those in detention from coming to harm. “Our policies and procedures require thorough operational planning to ensure appropriate resourcing and to mitigate risk,” Mr Shaw said. “We take failure to follow operational planning procedures seriously.” Mr Shaw said two staff have been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. A Senate estimates hearing was told on Tuesday there were 25 asylum seekers still at large out of 63 who had escaped immigration detention centres guarded by Serco in the past year. Fairfax Media revealed last month that Serco's contracts with the government had blown out by $1.5 billion as Australia's border protection strains under the weight of increased flows of asylum seekers. The British-based company has operations worldwide, running prisons, immigration detention, hospitals and traffic management, among others. It employs more than 3000 people, providing immigration services in Australia. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said sanctions could apply to Serco if the company did not meet into contractual obligations. “In the absence of more specific detail, however, it would be inappropriate for the department to speculate on this matter,” he said. Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/escapes-blamed-on-serco-costcutting-20130529-2nb0l.html#ixzz2UxtBiJaY

Prisoner Transport, UK
January 12, 2012 This Is Local London
POLICE are looking for a man who escaped from a security van window as he was being driven to Belmarsh. Tyran Reid, 33, had just appeared at Greenwich Magistrates’ Court and was being driven back to prison in a Serco-Wincanton van on January 6 when he escaped at 4.10pm. Whilst the van was stationary in traffic in Woolwich Road at a junction with Fingal Street, Greenwich, Reid managed to slip through a skylight window.

October 16, 2011 BBC
More than 25,000 cab journeys have taken place since August, Serco said. The Ministry of Justice has admitted a private security firm is using black cabs to take prison inmates to court. The firm, Serco, has a seven-year deal - with a further three-year option - worth up to £420m. But the company has been forced to transport inmates in London and east England in cabs after their computerised booking system failed. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer said he would raise the issue with Home Secretary Theresa May. 'Extraordinarily expensive' -- Mr Mercer said he was worried about the cost of hiring cabs, and the perception defendants were being driven around in luxury. "I just think it is ridiculous that a security company such as Serco misjudges things so badly that prisoners are moved to and fro in black taxis," he said.

January 15, 2011 The Sun
THREE private security guards were arrested over claims prisoners were sold cocaine - at TWO sprawling courts. The two men and a woman were nicked in swoops hours apart, not thought to be linked. They were suspended by security firm Serco and are on police bail. Cops, Serco and the Prison Service launched a joint operation after "intelligence" was picked up alleging cocaine sales. It is understood the continuing probe also focuses on whether other contraband - including mobiles and SIM cards - was also being supplied.

January 13, 2011 Streatham Guardian
The escape of a dangerous prisoner from a Wimbledon court has sparked an investigation – as magistrates voiced concerns about security at the building. Private security firm Serco, which is contracted to escort prisoners appearing at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court, has said it will examine how he was able to climb out of the dock to go on the run for 11 days before handing himself in to the police in Battersea on Friday. The man, who was not handcuffed when he appeared in the locked dock last Monday after his arrest in Wandsworth, climbed on to a bench before hauling himself over a plastic wall that supposedly sealed the dock from the rest of court number one. The escape of the 21-year-old from West Norwood prompted police appeals, in which the public were told he was dangerous and should not be approached. He had just been told he was to be kept in custody for two months before facing three charges of robbery, allegedly stealing cash and electrical equipment in Merton and Wandsworth last year, and one of carrying a bladed weapon. One magistrate at the Alexandra Road court said they heard there was not enough security in the court building on the day of the escape. They said: “If he was on the loose I would have to dive under the table.”

May 28, 2010 London Evening Standard
A CROWN court security officer has been jailed for six years for supplying defendants in his cells with drugs and mobile phones which they could later sell in prison. Daniel Birkett, 30, would provide the prisoners with cannabis, cocaine and pay-as-you-go phones, which they would hide in their clothes or internally before returning to HMP Wandsworth. Birkett received up to £150 a time for these exchanges at Blackfriars crown court holding cells. Inner London crown court heard that mobile phones are a "vital commodity" in prisons and change hands for up to £500. Inmates use them to keep up criminality behind bars and potentially to intimidate witnesses. Drugs can be sold in prison for three times their street value. Birkett, who worked for security firm Serco, was caught last December after another security officer found wraps of drugs in a defendant's waistband. A further search revealed two hollowed batteries concealed in his body containing 10 more wraps of drugs. All the security staff's lockers were searched and drugs and a large tub of Vaseline were found in Birkett's locker, as well as two mobile phones. Birkett, who admitted charges of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and to convey a list B article (the phones), claimed that he was "frightened of the prisoners" and that they had threatened to hurt his family if he told police or refused to co-operate. However, Judge Roger Chapple said Birkett, of North Woolwich, had entered the conspiracy "willfully and for financial gain".

May 11, 2009 BBC
A prison van driver has been cleared of murdering a woman who was dancing in front of his vehicle. Andrew Curtis was also cleared of the manslaughter of Nyaraui Benjamin. Ms Benjamin, described as "eccentric" and prone to dancing in traffic, was trapped under the van in Brixton, south-west London, in April 2008. Mr Curtis, 49, told the Old Bailey that Miss Benjamin's death had been an accident, as he could not see her after she moved his windscreen wiper. During the trial he said: "If she was in front of my vehicle, as we now know, I could not see her and I did not see her." Judge Martin Stephens said it had been a "most difficult and unusual case" for everyone involved.

May 7, 2009 Hounslow Guardian
A scarfaced prisoner who escaped from court after duping guards by telling them he was desperate for the toilet has handed himself in. Roger Buckingham appeared at Isleworth Crown Court charged with a string of offences. These included a serious assault and car theft and was warned he could be jailed if convicted. But soon after appearing in front of a judge, the 26-year-old fled. He spent less than 24 hours on the run before handing himself to HMS Wormwood Scrubs yesterday morning and taken back into custody. On Tuesday Buckingham fooled prison guards by begging them to let him use the toilet before they left the court, and then escaped on foot at around 4.20pm. Buckingham faced charges of aggravated vehicle theft, taking a vehicle without consent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, another charge of theft and attempting to steal a car, all in February. It is not known how Buckingham fled from prison guards. Police launched a London wide appeal for Buckingham, who has three scars across his face and cops warned members of the public he could be dangerous. A spokesman for Serco, which transports prisoners to and from court, said: “We can confirm that a prisoner who was in the care of our court escort service escaped from Isleworth Crown Court. “We are working closely with the Metropolitan Police and the court authorities to ensure that this individual is returned to custody as quickly as possible. “This incident is regrettable and we will conduct a full investigation into how it occurred.” Serco refused to comment on how Buckingham gave its guards the slip. A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed it was investigating the circumstances which led to Buckingham’s escape.

April 29, 2009 Bromley Times
A PRISON van driver ran over and killed a woman in "a moment of complete madness" after she started dancing in the street, a court heard. Andrew Curtis, 49, of The Ridge, Orpington, edged forward into Naomi Benjamin, 34, until she slipped and fell under the wheels of the vehicle on April 22 last year. He then drove over her body, twisting her head until her neck was broken and dragging her 10 metres along the road, jurors were told at his murder trial at the Old Bailey this week. Horrified witnesses surrounded the driver and beat on the sides of the van in anger after the incident in Brixton. Bystander Susan Fraser, giving evidence on Tuesday, said: "She was in front of the prison van dancing, waving [her] arms around and shouting. There was a lot of action going on. "The prison van eventually moved forwards and Naomi moved backwards. The van moved forwards again and almost touched her. She was obstructing the vehicle, she was shouting but I couldn't understand any words." She then jumped up and pulled the passenger windscreen wiper down before tumbling to the floor. Ms Fraser added: "That was when the prison van escalated. She fell under the wheel and the van continued moving up the hill and she was underneath it. I was in shock. "I remained there until she was run over and I made my way towards the van. "There was an immediate rush of people towards the van, screaming and shouting at the van to stop. "It was very nasty. Things got a bit nasty." Curtis, who had worked for Serco for six years, was transporting prisoners from a court in Westminster to Brixton prison during rush hour. He had stopped at the traffic lights outside the KFC in the middle of the three-lane carriageway heading southbound on Brixton Road. Prosecutor Simon Denison said: "She was killed suddenly and utterly needlessly by this defendant in a moment of complete madness. "She slipped and fell in front of the centre of the van. You may think he must have realised what had happened but quite incredibly he continued to drive the van forward and he went over her." The victim was still alive when the first paramedic arrived but by the time she could be moved from under the vehicle she was dead. Describing Ms Benjamin, Mr Denison said: "She was well known in the community, a local character. She was often dressed in brightly coloured clothes. She was outgoing and a loud person. Unfortunately she was often drunk." The trial continues.

March 30, 2009 The Sun
AN arsonist was on the run last night after escaping from jail by clinging to the underside of a prison van. Frenchman Julien Chautard, 39, was among ten lags who had just arrived at Pentonville jail. Chautard, who was starting a seven-year stretch at the North London prison after being convicted on Friday, crept under the van belonging to security firm Serco while the others filed into a reception area. A source said: “The van went into the prison’s secure area, then they unloaded the prisoners. “Normally as prisoners come off the vehicle and into the building there is somebody who searches and escorts them — but there wasn’t this time.. “Chautard didn’t go into the building and the van left. “When the van was checked afterwards they found foot prints and finger hold marks on the underside.”

January 16, 2009 BBC
A man facing assault and burglary charges who went on the run after a prison van was stopped by an armed man has been recaptured. Wayne Joseph Connor, 20, fled when the van was stopped a short distance from Feltham Young Offenders' Institution in west London on Monday. A Serco van was forced to pull over by two men, one of them with a shotgun. Police said Connor was arrested at the Clumber Park Hotel in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Shortly after midnight detectives from the Specialist Crime Directorate of the Metropolitan Police along with officers from Nottinghamshire Police entered the hotel room and arrested Connor. He had been missing since Monday when the Serco van was stopped near the Clockhouse Roundabout in Feltham at about 0730 GMT. Two men, one of them armed with a shotgun, threatened the security staff before driving off with Connor. He had been due to appear at Woolwich Crown Court accused of three charges of assault and three of burglary.

January 12, 2009 BBC
A suspected burglar escaped when an armed man held up a prison van carrying him to court. The Serco van was forced to pull over and two men wearing balaclavas smashed the driver's window and threatened him with shotgun. Prisoner Wayne Connor, 20, was driven away after the raid, a short distance from Feltham Young Offenders' Institution in west London. No shots were fired and the driver has been treated for cuts and bruises. Mr Connor has been charged with racially aggravated burglary and two counts of actual bodily harm. An unknown number of other offenders were also being transported, but were secured at the scene, police said. Prisoner transfer -- Police investigating the raid on Monday morning have cordoned off several streets near Bedfont Road. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Local officers and London Ambulance Service attended. "The driver of the van is believed to have been assaulted. "He was taken by London Ambulance Service to hospital and is in a stable condition." The van was driving suspects from Feltham Young Offenders' Institution to Woolwich Crown Court, said a spokesman for Serco, the private firm contracted to provide prisoner transfers. Another member of staff was unhurt during the incident.

December 23, 2008 New Ham Recorder
A "DANGEROUS" sex offender has escaped from court, prompting a warning from police not to approach him. Paul Reid, 32, formerly of Haldane Road, East Ham, is a convicted rapist and burglar. He was sentenced to two years in jail for indecent assault at Inner London Crown Court last week. He was at the same court on Monday for an appeal hearing when he escaped while in the custody of a private security firm which moves prisoners. It is at least the third time Reid has managed to flee from custody. In September 2001 he vaulted the dock at Snaresbrook crown Court and made good his escape through the judge's chambers. He was arrested next day in East Ham. Two months earlier he was handed a six month sentence for an earlier escape from Redbridge Court. In July 1997 Reid was caged for six years after a jury found him guilty of beating and raping a 16-year-old girl in Ilford Police said Reid is known to frequent the Plaistow neighbourhoods. He is black, 5ft 10in tall and muscular. He was last seen wearing a black fleece jacket and blue jeans. A spokesman for private security company Serco, responsible fro transferring prisoners, said: "This incident is regrettable and we will conduct a full investigation into how it occurred. "We are working closely with the Metropolitan Police and the court authorities to ensure that this individual is returned to custody as quickly as possible.

October 17, 2008 BBC
A prison van driver has denied murdering a woman who was killed when she was knocked down by the vehicle in south-west London. Andrew Curtis, 48, from Orpington, south-east London, is charged with the murder of Nyaraui Benjamin, 34. Ms Benjamin was knocked down and trapped under the van carrying 11 prisoners in Brixton Road on 22 April. Mr Curtis, who worked for Serco Court Escort Services, was granted bail by the Old Bailey to face trial in April.

April 22, 2008 BBC
A woman has died after being trapped under a prison van in south London, the Metropolitan police have said. The victim, aged about 30, was hit as the van turned from Acre Lane into Brixton Hill at 1735 BST on Tuesday. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the van has been arrested in connection with the incident. The vehicle involved was a Serco van transporting 11 prisoners. All of its passengers were accounted for and no-one was injured. 'Heartfelt sympathies' The driver is being held in custody at a south London police station. A Serco spokesman said: "I can confirm that one of our prison escort vans was involved in a fatal incident earlier today outside Brixton Town Hall. "We would like to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of the woman who has lost her life in this tragic accident." The incident is being investigated by the Met's collision investigation unit.

Scherger Detention Center
Queensland, Australia
Serco

December 3, 2011 The Age
A QUEENSLAND psychiatrist says the remote Scherger detention centre is ''waiting for disaster'' and ''tragedy is very likely to occur'' because asylum seekers can't get adequate health services. Dr Bruce Gynther, of the Cairns health service, told a parliamentary inquiry the psychiatric care being offered at the former airbase in Weipa, 800 kilometres from Cairns, was ''really suboptimal''. Detention centres should be close to hospitals, where sick detainees can be admitted within 24 hours, he said. He also questioned the need to detain asylum seekers. Afghan Meqdad Hussein, 20, committed suicide at Scherger in March. Despite the federal government's recent policy shift to move more boat arrivals out of detention and into the community, Scherger will expand from housing 320 to 600 asylum seekers, the private operator Serco said yesterday. The Labor Party will debate asylum policy at its national conference today, with Labor for Refugees arguing mandatory detention should be restricted to 90 days. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said Dr Gynther had confirmed that the Scherger centre was compromising mental health services in the community and indigenous population.

October 24, 2011 The Cairns Post
A TENSE stand-off remains between Tamil asylum seekers and security guards at the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre after a fight which resulted in two detainees and a guard being taken to hospital. A Department of Immigration spokesman said one of the detainees remained in hospital with broken teeth and a suspected broken nose. The incident coincides with the news three more suspected asylum-seeker boats were intercepted off the northwest Australian coast at the weekend. The department spokesman confirmed the fight at Scherger, near Weipa, started about 2pm on Saturday. It lasted for three hours and involved about 100 asylum seekers angry at the Serco security staff. Ambulances and more security guards were called in to contain the fight. "The centre was calm by about 5pm," he said. "We understand the past 24 hours has remained calm, and we will await a report from Serco this week before making any further comment." The Refugee Action Coalition is demanding the removal of a Serco guard alleged to have started the fight. The group’s spokesman Ian Rintoul said yesterday reports from inside the centre claimed a Serco officer assaulted the Tamil asylum seeker in the internet room, leaving the man with several broken teeth and a suspected broken nose. "The refugees get allotted time slots for the internet use and have cards for those slots," Mr Rintoul said. "It’s common for the detainees to swap their slots. "When this guy had tried to go into the internet room with someone else’s card the guard had assaulted him." Mr Rintoul also said reports from inside the centre indicated the Serco guard had been involved in earlier altercations with two other asylum seekers; one Tamil and one Afghan. "We are extremely concerned that this incident could become a full-on confrontation," Mr Rintoul said.

July 22, 2011 The Australian
THE unrest at immigration detention centres has spread to the newest mainland facility, with asylum-seekers starting a hunger strike at Scherger. The protest began yesterday at the converted Cape York air force base near Weipa in Queensland, with 60 Afghan Hazara men refusing to eat. The flare-up follows two nights of protests at the detention centre on Christmas Island during which asylum-seekers set buildings and mattresses on fire. The Australian Federal Police had to be called in to halt the destruction, using beanbag bullets and teargas. The Australian understands that 43 of the men demonstrating at Scherger have had their claims for asylum rejected by the Immigration Merit Review process. Others have been waiting months for a decision. The men were distressed and desperate, a friend told The Australian. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said there was no deadline for the protest to finish. "If there was hope, nobody would hunger strike," he said. "Life is wasting away there, and they see Scherger as a dead-end." Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition said many of the men had been in detention for between 18 and 22 months. The process of reviewing refugee claims was flawed, he said. "There is no accountability and no transparency, yet these decision-makers are making life-and-death decisions for the asylum-seekers and their families." There are 540 detainees held at the facility, which was originally designed as a six-month stopgap for 300 men. Scherger's capacity has since been increased to 596, and its lifespan as a detention centre has been extended. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the centre was calm. "We can confirm that about 50 detainees are sitting peacefully in an outdoor common area of the Scherger detention centre," the spokesman said. "The department and the detention services provider (Serco) are engaging with the detainees, and food and water are available."

Serco
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011

Apr 8, 2017 csindy.com
Colorado Springs' fleet contractor lost money, calls for 22 percent price increase
In this week's issue of the Independent, we report that then-Mayor Steve Bach's grand idea to outsource the city's fleet maintenance work to save money is on a collision course of sorts. Not only has the city not saved the money it expected so far, but there have been some performance problems as well. The five-year contract is held by Serco, an international giant based in the United Kingdom. Serco says it's lost $1.4 million in the contract's first three years and wants a 22 percent increase in contract price for 2017, the contract's fourth year. The city isn't obliging, and Serco filed a lawsuit recently. Serco, it turns out, has had some problems before. A few examples: In 2006, the Forest Service cancelled a contract. According to a report on a union website: On May 1, 2006, the Forest Service terminated for default its Region 5 fleet maintenance contract with Serco Management Services, Inc. This will affect how the agency's California fleet, including specialized fire-fighting equipment, will be serviced. The California fleet maintenance work was originally outsourced to Serco as part of President Bush's competitive sourcing initiative. Recently, the Forest Service Washington Office reported that this generated $1.7 million in estimated savings in fiscal year 2005. However, a Region 5 investigation in early 2006 found that Serco was chronically behind in accomplishing work, and that shoddy work had placed our employees and the public in general in unsafe situations. In Sacramento, 14 of 25 Serco-serviced fire engines were removed from service for critical safety issues. The city of Dallas reported that while it saved more than expected, Serco had problems meeting the vehicle availability requirements. Serco has only met the fleet availability requirement for 81 of 171 workdays, or 47% of the time. After various meetings with Serco, in June 2006, the City had Serco submit a plan to meet the 90% fleet availability contract performance. Fleet availability has improved but continual improvement is needed. While the contract provides for overall fleet availability requirements, further analysis showed significant differences in the fleet availability based on the specific types of equipment. Nevertheless, the Sanitation Department advised us they were satisfied with Serco’s service and that Serco’s inability to achieve the fleet availability requirements has not interrupted service to citizens. Both of those cases date back 10 years, and things could have changed since then. So we asked Serco for a comment about those contracts and will circle back when we hear something.

Jun 20, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Corrections deploys extra monitors to Serco-run prison
Private prison operator Serco is back in the spotlight as it emerges Corrections has deployed extra monitors to the Wiri prison in south Auckland. Prison monitors are responsible for checking whether Serco is operating the prison according to the required standards, and also ensuring the facility is being managed in compliance with New Zealand legislation. In a statement to Newshub, Corrections northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns confirmed there are now extra monitors at the Auckland South Corrections Facility. "We have deployed an additional two special monitors," she said. "They are assisting ASCF management with offender management approaches, as requested by them." Serco initially refused to confirm extra Corrections staff had been deployed to the site, but backtracked after being presented with a statement from the department, which confirmed the move. But prison director Mike Inglis insisted it did not reflect badly on Serco's management of the prison. "We review and scrutinise our work regularly and [ASCF] also operates under a comprehensive monthly reporting regime," he said. "We have welcomed two additional Corrections special monitors recently who are working with our management and frontline staff to deliver this operational excellence." But for Labour's Corrections spokesperson, Kelvin Davis, the deployment raises further questions about whether Serco is up to the job of running Kiwi prisons. "It makes me wonder why the taxpayer -- through Corrections -- is providing extra help to Serco, who are a private business," he told Newshub. "If they can't do the job themselves, then they shouldn't be in the job." Mr Davis suspects the extra monitors were deployed as a result of issues that have come to light over the past few months, including claims of beatings, bootleg alcohol and guards taking bribes to smuggle illicit goods into the prison. "I've heard stories of all sorts of issues that are going on," he said. "I've raised some with police; I've raised some in the media, and I've sent those issues on to the minister. It's just an ongoing story about Serco not being able to run the show." He believes it raises fresh concerns about whether inmates are safe in Serco's care. "I do have fears about the safety of not just the prisoners, but also what's happening to the people who are working there," he said. "If they have to call in Corrections to help run the show there must be problems, and safety would be the first concern." Serco got the boot from managing the Mt Eden Corrections Facility last year after a string of scandals that caused major embarrassment for the Government. In a brief statement to Newshub, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she has no concerns at this time about Serco's management of the Wiri prison.

May 7, 2016 theguardian.com
Rainsbrook private youth prison sees rise in use of force and restraint
There is an increasing use of force and restraint to control children at a privately run youth jail, a snap inspection carried out in the wake of exposure of serious allegations of abuse at Medway secure training centre in Kent has revealed. The inspection report into Rainsbrook secure training centre, near Rugby, published on Friday reveals that 24 “child safeguarding” allegations have been made in the first three months of this year. Six have led to external investigations and one member of staff has been disciplined. The snap joint inspection by Ofsted, the chief inspector of prisons, and the care quality commission, was ordered after undercover filming by BBC Panorama revealed serious allegations of abuse and assaults by staff at the G4S-run Medway secure training centre. The Ministry of Justice is expected to confirm next week that Medway is to be run by the public sector. Rainsbrook was taken over on Thursday by the US prison company MTCnovo. The snap inspection was carried out in March when Rainsbrook, then also run by G4S, held 61 teenage boys and 13 girls aged 12 to 18. The inspectors said they saw some good examples of staff minimising potential violence at Rainsbrook, but the number of incidents involving restraints and use of force had risen to an average of 29 a month compared to 19 a month at the time of the previous inspection. They said although in the majority of incidents force had been used appropriately to prevent injury to young people CCTV footage also showed poor practice including the use of non-approved techniques and misapplication of holds. They said these cases were more the result of inexperience rather than malice. They also said there were insufficient body cameras available to record every restraint and in some cases staff did not turn on the camera to record incidents. Senior managers have taken action against some staff on a number of occasions where body-worn cameras had not been turned on. The inspectors also found a rising level of assaults by children on staff, with five members of staff and three children requiring hospital treatment in the previous six months. The snap inspection in March was the third in the space of 12 months after a disastrous report in February 2015 which revealed young people had been subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs. The latest inspection report concludes that the overall effectiveness of Rainsbrook is unchanged and still requires improvement. Lin Hinnigan, the chief executive of the Youth Justice Board, responded to the report saying they recognised there were issues around staffing and inconsistencies in the way behaviour management was applied at Rainsbrook. She said: “The inspection took place during a challenging time as a result of the transition from G4S to MTCnovo running the centre under a new contract, and in the wake of the BBC Panorama programme about Medway STC and G4S’s announcement about selling its UK children’s services business. MTCnovo must now continue to address the areas for improvement as it runs Rainsbrook STC under the terms of the new contract and operating model.” Paul Cook, managing director of G4S children’s services responded to the report: “Recruiting and retaining staff in what was a period of change proved to be very challenging, but our focus remained on handing over a centre which puts the futures of young people at the heart of its operation. I am pleased that inspectors recognised the good focus on the individual needs of young people and the work which went into maintaining continuity in the education of those in our care. “It is also encouraging that we have transferred a centre in which young people felt safe and were positive about their relationships with staff, most of whom will continue to provide care under the new management.” Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The experiment of secure training centres has been a failure for 20 years. Nowhere is that more obvious than at Rainsbrook, where, as today’s report shows, there are major concerns about safeguarding, violence and restraint. Children are not safe. Crook added: “G4S have lost the Rainsbrook contract and now MTCnovo are running it instead. As a nation we have to learn that we cannot keep inventing new ways to lock up children who simply do not require custody.”

May 12, 2016 stuff.co.nz
Inmates shifted from Serco after home brew, assault incident
Inmates accused of being drunk on home brew and assaulting prison guards at Wiri have been moved from the Serco jail to the state-run prison in Paremoremo. The incident at Kohuora, Auckland South Corrections Facility, on April 30 sparked a clampdown in a wing holding 68 people. Some inmates who weren't involved in the attack complained of being locked in their cells for as long as 25 hours at a time. Asked why the state now had to look after inmates whose care was entrusted to Serco, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said Kohuora operated under the same classification rules as all other prisons. "As happens at all sites, if an incident happens, an event-based reclassification will be carried out on the prisoner. If this results in a reclassification to maximum security, then that prisoner is moved to Auckland Prison." Labour corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis says ongoing debacles have undermined public faith in Serco jails. Collins said Corrections managed the prison muster across the entire prison estate, including Kohuora. Labour corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said the alleged home brew-fuelled assault and its aftermath made a "mockery" of the system. "Serco needs to deal with it, but because they say they all work together, it just enables them to transfer all the easy guys into Serco, and that boost's Serco's stats. "If they're so innovative and so good, they should be putting up their hands and saying 'we're going to take all the hardest guys.'" Davis said Serco should be more transparent about how incidents such as last weekend's happened. The company did not say how the home brew was made, or how it evaded detection. But Serco said its staff performed well in challenging prisoner behaviour, finding the contraband and taking swift action to remove it from inmates. "As in any facility, prisoners will attempt to smuggle or create contraband such as home brew and we have daily practices in place to stop them." A company spokesperson said staff frequently checked bins and bags, and recent changes meant inmates could not use these as containers for fermenting booze. Serco said the assault happened when staff were carrying out searches at the jail. An inmate's partner said on Thursday the situation at Kohuora had returned to normal, after last week's clampdown in which it was claimed some prisoners were locked up for as long as 25 hours. She said the normalisation was due to media exposure of the assault and lockdown. A few prisoners threatened to go on hunger strike before the controlled regime ended last Friday.

May 5, 2016 newstalkzb.co.nz
'Drunk' prisoners attacked guards at Wiri prison, wing in lockdown
UPDATED: 6.25PM Prisoners allegedly drunk on homebrew attacked staff at the Serco-run Wiri prison on Saturday, and a wing has been in lockdown ever since. The incident is the latest in a number of high profile incidents involving Serco, including an $8 million pay out to Corrections after the government had to step in to manage the Mt Eden facility. Serco today confirmed information supplied to the Herald from a source within the Auckland South Corrections Facility on Kiwi Tamaki Drive, The source, who wished not to be identified in case it compromised prisoners inside the facility, said an attack on guards took place at the weekend by some prisoners “high on homebrew” and that others not involved in the attack have been in lockdown ever since. “Some prisoners attacked the guards and so they locked the place down of course. They have since taken the culprits out of wherever it happened, but the people left behind are still getting locked up and let out for only an hour and locked up for 23 hours,” the source said. The source said prisoners were now on a hunger strike in protest of their treatment. A Serco New Zealand spokeswoman today confirmed the information. “There is currently a controlled regime in a single wing accommodating 68 prisoners,” said the spokeswoman. “The measure was temporarily imposed on Monday... for safety and security reasons, and following a review the regime will return to normal tomorrow. “The regime was applied after two prisoners allegedly assaulted members of staff on the wing on Saturday. The incident was reported to police. “The prisoners were relocated and will be subject to the internal disciplinary process. Contraband “homebrew” was also discovered in the wing.” The source said that the prisoners were being locked up for up to 25 hours, and even though the prisoners were there “for a reason” they still deserved fair treatment within the jail. “But the 23 hours can actually be in 25 hour or more lots, say if they are let out at 9am until 10am one day but not let out until 11am or later the next day. “They are still entitled to certain things. If they have got the culprits why can’t it go back to normal?” The prison spokeswoman said under the “controlled regime” prisoners were unlocked for less time than they would be normally, but prisoners can still attend visits, work, education, sports and fitness activities. “The safety, security and wellbeing of staff and prisoners is our first priority. Assaults are never acceptable and our staff must be able to observe and challenge prisoners who are acting to undermine the good order of the prison.” Labour’s Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said it was yet another example of problems with Serco’s operations. “It goes to show that despite claims to the contrary, that things are happening in Serco that should not be. The guards were attacked by a couple of prisoners yet a whole lot of other prisoners have been punished when they had nothing to do with it. “By all means, punish the people involved, but [punishing others] does nothing to ease tensions or aid rehabilitation of these prisoners.” Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she was advised of the incident today and has spoken with Corrections managers about it. "The regional commissioner's confirmed that she was satisfied with the way they'd handled it, as she reminded me these instances happen from time to time in any prison, but that she was very satisfied with the way Serco had looked after the matter." Collins said she was advised of the incident today and has spoken with Corrections managers about it. "The regional commissioner's confirmed that she was satisfied with the way they'd handled it, as she reminded me these instances happen from time to time in any prison, but that she was very satisfied with the way Serco had looked after the matter." Corrections spokeswoman Jeanette Burns said the agency was aware of the incident. “This is an operational matter for Serco which manages Auckland South Corrections Facility, and we are satisfied it has been handled appropriately.” The incident is the latest in a number of high profile incidents involving Serco, an international outsourcing group, and its operation of New Zealand prisons. A judicial review into reports of Serco’s management of the Mt Eden Correctional Facility is currently underway after its $300 million, 10-year contract with Corrections was terminated following reports surfaced on social media of organised fights and contraband.
Serco took over the management of the Mt Eden remand prison in 2011 and has now agreed to pay $8 million to cover the costs associated with the contract ending.

Apr 27, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Australian guards accused of beating New Zealand detainees
Guards in two Australian immigration centres have been accused of beating up New Zealand detainees. One report claims 50 guards on Christmas Island armed with batons and shields took on 10 or so detainees who used wheelie-bin lids as shields to defend themselves. And a 24-year-old New Zealand citizen being held at a centre in Victoria said guards beat him after he tried to arrange meetings with a protest hikoi that was visiting detainees. The accusations come as new figures show New Zealand men now make up the largest single group being held in immigration detention in Australia. Convicted armed robber Wayne Hema is locked up at Maribrynong Detention Centre in Victoria but has been in contact by phone to a detainee in a compound on Christmas Island about a mass clash there early last week. "Fifty guards came in with riot shields and clubs to tackle 10 Kiwis," he said. "The New Zealanders defended themselves, they broke up wheelie-bins, the iron bars and wheels from the wheelie-bins to protect themselves, as well as the lids from the bins as shields to shield themselves from the blows they were receiving." "Fifty guards came in with riot shields" - Wayne Hema on Morning Report. Another Christmas Island detainee sent a message to a relative, who did not want to be identified, with a one-line plea to tell the media and politicians what was happening on the remote Indian Ocean island. He said in that message that 54 emergency response guards ran in and kicked them: "We all have boot marks to the head". RNZ News was unable to get through to anyone on Christmas Island and has been told detainees have been warned not to speak out. Wayne Hema said the clash came after a Middle Eastern refugee refused to return a razor to prison staff and threatened to cut himself with it. The New Zealanders there, he said, backed him up and refused to negotiate with the centre's manager. "It may only be a little thing, but when you are harassed mentally and physically, that little thing is like a big win, to stand back and say, 'No, I am doing this ... and you're not going to take it off me," he said.He said all the men had been flown to a prison in Perth, and it remained unclear what injuries they had. Like Wayne Hema, Maueofa Fakauafusi, 24, is detained at Maribrynong, which like Christmas Island is run for the Australian government by private prison company Serco. He was jailed for assault then had his visa cancelled, and described being woken early a fortnight ago, being held in an interview room for several hours, and then, after repeatedly asking a guard to use a toilet, actually getting up to go. "I went to walk out. He shin kicked me while he was sitting down, I tripped up through the hallway and the security guards basically jumped on me and he's jumped over and elbowed me in the chin," he said. "They had me against the wall and he just started ragging on me, just laying into me and threw me on the ground, stomped on me, and handcuffed me and took me into the segregation where they continued to strip search me and basically punch me up." This comes as the latest figures from Australian authorities show that for the first time New Zealand men now make up the largest single group being held in indefinite immigration detention - 181 total compared with 179 Iranian men. Fifteen New Zealand women are also being held. Many of these people have lived most of their lives in Australian - Maueofa Fakauafusi since he was six - and those held on criminal grounds have all served their prison time, while others are held on character grounds. On Christmas Island the numbers are up 16, to 183 men, since February, and from 150 last December. Australia's Immigration department refuses to tell RNZ News how many of these are New Zealanders. Wayne Hema said he had heard that 30 more detainees were taken to the Christmas Island in the last two days and Maueofa Fakauafusi said five New Zealanders had been taken there from Maribrynong in the month he had been there. Filipa Payne tried to visit Maueofa Fakauafusi as part of a trans-Tasman hikoi she has helped lead for the past month to protest at detainees' treatment. "From what we've been told he was beaten up because he'd tried to make contact with us, for us to come and see him and other people there, so that he could share with us his story and share what was happening in the detention centres." Ms Payne said detainees were being prevented from getting medical treatment and from ready access to lawyers, whose efforts had not changed anything for them anyway, though some had spent tens of thousands of dollars on them. Maueofa Fakauafusi said last week guards bashed a detainee who asked for Panadol. He and that detainee talked about complaining about their treatment but decided it was no use, that the authorities would not listen. Wayne Hema described a pressure cooker situation in the detention centres. He said a few days ago in early morning room raids, the guards removed all the towels and curtains for seemingly no reason. In one room the detainee was sleeping naked. "The guards all ran into the room - 'Get up, get up!' He informed them that he was naked. They had a female with a camera recording what was happening in the room. "When he again asked them to leave they said, 'No, get up out of bed now'. Had he not got up out of bed he would have been beaten." RNZ News asked Australia's Immigration and Border Protection Department about these claims and is yet to hear back. Just over three weeks ago New Zealander Rob Peihopa died in a Villawood detention centre in Sydney. Authorities said it was a heart attack but detainees and his family suspect he was beaten up by other detainees. A coronial inquiry continues into that matter.


Apr 27, 2016 next.ft.com
Flagship London private prison struggles to recruit staff
One of London’s flagship private prisons, HMP Thameside, is struggling to recruit staff because nearby state-run jails pay significantly more, according to senior employees. The situation at Thameside, which is run by Serco, shows the problem the government faces as it tries to increase private sector involvement in prisons while cutting budgets. Serco pays a newly recruited prison custody officer just £17,350 a year, which rises to £21,000 a year, including London weighting. This compares with £24,500 at nearby public sector run jails, according to senior sources inside the prison. Serco has run Thameside on a £20m a year contract since it opened in 2011. After an extension, the Category B jail now houses over 1,200 convicted or remand male inmates. “One of the ways that the private sector can make savings is to drive down wages. This can be shortsighted because it can lead to a demoralised workforce and difficulties recruiting staff of a suitable calibre,” said Richard Garside, director of the centre for Crime and Justice Studies, an independent research organisation. Serco has designated some inmates at the prison as “violence reduction representatives”. Serco, which will run the prison for a further 19 years, said they found them an effective means of reducing tension and that prisoners were often more receptive to other inmates. “HMP Thameside is fully staffed, which shows that we are able attract suitable candidates,” Serco said. “Recruiting and retaining prison officers in London is challenging for both the private and public sector and we are keeping our rates of pay under review to ensure that we can continue to recruit and retain the right people.” Serco’s recruitment troubles come as David Cameron, the prime minister, unveils plans for a shakeup of the justice system billed as the biggest since Victorian times. This includes plans for nine new out-of-town prisons as well as the creation of six flagship “reform” prisons, which will aim to develop new methods for cutting Britain’s high reoffending rates. But MPs have warned that efforts to improve rehabilitation may be hampered by prison overcrowding and poor staff morale. Prison staff numbers in England and Wales have declined by nearly a third since 2010 as a result of the government’s austerity measures, at the same time as inmate numbers are rising and on track to reach a record 100,000 by 2019. HMP Thameside is fully staffed, which shows that we are able attract suitable candidates. The cross-party House of Commons select committee of MPs said last year that its year-long study had found that staff cuts meant inmates were confined to their cells for longer. They warned that at its “most acute… [this had] resulted in severely restricted regimes [and] are bound to have reduced the consistency of relationships between officers and prisoners, and in turn affected safety.” They urged the government to improve “low morale amongst prison officers and problems of retention of staff across the prison estate”. The Prison Officers Association, a union, warned that prisons across London and the south-east are still struggling to find suitable staff because “they are not renumerated properly for the difficult job they do”. In March, prison service staff were awarded a 1.36 per cent pay rise, slightly higher than other public sector workers. Three years ago, the Prison Service was forced to re-hire more than 2,000 prison officers who had taken voluntary redundancy to stave off a crisis. Serco runs prisons in Australia and New Zealand as well as the UK. Earlier this year it won a five-year extension to a contract with the Western Australian government to operate Acacia Prison, a 1,400-bed medium security male prison, the largest in Australia. At the same time it lost work running one of New Zealand’s largest prisons - Mt Eden in Auckland - following accusations of violence and safety lapses. Thameside faced criticism when it first opened but its last official inspection in January 2013 said it had made “considerable progress”.

Oct 3, 2015 nzherald.co.nz
Jail attack inmate transgender

The inmate reportedly raped at a privately run men's prison in South Auckland is transgender. A family spokesperson confirmed to the Herald on Sunday the inmate was taking hormone pills to become a woman. The transgender community says the inmate is not getting enough support after the incident which is alleged to have happened at the privately-run Wiri prison in South Auckland on Friday morning. The inmate - described by family as having a "gentle disposition" - is being treated at a prison health unit. Police and Corrections investigations are underway into the allegations. Lynda Whitehead, president of transgender support group Agender New Zealand, said transgender inmates needed better protection. "They are terribly vulnerable, especially when a male is transitioning to be female," Whitehead said.

Aug 23, 2014 theguardian.com

Campaigners have criticised private firms for using immigration detainees as cheap labour inside detention centres after research suggested this saves them millions of pounds. Some detainees said they were being paid as little as £1 an hour to cook and clean. Home Office figures showed that in May this year, detainees in centres run bySerco, G4S and other contractors did nearly 45,000 hours of work for a total of nearly £45,500 in pay. Had they been paid at the national minimum wage, the cost would have been more than £280,000. Over 12 months, the figures suggest that the firms – which also include Mitieand GEO – could have saved more than £2.8m, according to research group Corporate Watch, which obtained the data, and said firms were "exploiting their captive migrant workforce". The Home Office insisted, however, that detainees had a choice whether or not to work and that inspectors had praised the practice of allowing them to work while they await removal from the UK. One female detainee, who spent months in the Yarl's Wood centre in Bedfordshire, where she was employed as a cleaner, said she believed the detainees were being used to do essential work in place of staff paid the minimum wage. Another detainee, Ralph Ojotu, who works as a cleaner in Harmondsworth detention centre, said that it was hypocritical of the British government to ban him from working to support his two children in the outside world, but to allow him to be employed on around £1 an hour in a detention centre run by its contractor GEO. "We are not allowed to work out there, but in here, they are handing out jobs like pieces of cake," he said. The figures relate to seven centres: Yarl's Wood and Colnbrook, which are operated by Serco; Brook House and Tinsley House, which are run by G4s; and Harmondsworth and Dungavel, which are managed by American firm GEO. The seventh centre, Campsfield, is run by Mitie. Two government-run centres, Dover and Morton Hall, also employ detainees on £1 per hour, potentially saving more than £1.4m per year. Phil Miller, a researcher at Corporate Watch, said: "These companies are potentially saving millions of pounds by exploiting their captive migrant workforce on a grand scale. Our research has shown that the detention centres would grind to a halt without the amount of essential work done by detainees on a daily basis – cooking and cleaning." The status of immigration detainees held in centres while their cases are decided is distinct from that of convicted prisoners. Yet, like prison inmates, they do not qualify for the national minimum wage. They are also barred from any other form of work, yet must pay for essential goods such as toiletries. The latest financial figures from G4S in the UK and Ireland show that the company made £122m in pre-tax profit in 2013, while Serco made £106m in the same period. Mitie's accounts show it made £127.5m in the 12 months to June 2014, while GEO's US-based parent, GEO Group Inc, reported £184m in pre-tax profit. On behalf of the firms, a Home Office spokesman said: "The long-standing practice of offering paid work to detainees has been praised by Her Majesty's inspectorate of prisons as it helps to keep them occupied whilst their removal is being arranged. Whether or not they wish to participate is entirely up to the detainees themselves. This practice is not intended to substitute the work of trained staff." Wyn Jones, of Serco, said the paid work was voluntary and in accordance with Home Office rules. He added: "It is offered to residents alongside other constructive activities to help reduce boredom and improve mental health and, if not conducted, would have no effect on the running of the [centres]. Serco refutes any implication that we use residents to conduct work in place of officers or staff at any of the IRCs that we manage and thereby increase profits."

Aug 21, 2014 thejournal.co.uk
NAPO Northumbria branch chairman Mike Quinn said staff cuts at the jail, run by private firm Sodexo, have led to a "violent culture" Probation officers are fearful of paying visits to a North East prison where cutting officers by more than a third has led to a “violent culture”, it has been claimed. Mike Quinn, vice chairman of the Northumbria branch of NAPO, spoke out about HMP Northumberland after a prison officer was hospitalised by an inmate on August 9. He described the Category C jail as “like a tinderbox” and claims cash is being exchanged for prisoner assaults. It has been revealed how staff numbers at HMP Northumberland fell from 441 to 270 from 2010 to 2013 - a drop of 39%. Mr Quinn said: “We are becoming increasingly alarmed at reports about conditions at HMP Northumberland. “Members report to me that the atmosphere within the prison is tense and are concerned that if an incident were to take place that there would simply not be the staff to deal with it.” It comes as Eoin McLennan Murray, president of the Prison Governors Association, revealed Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s austerity drive is making it impossible to run a jail safely. He said this week: “We haven’t been able to recruit the numbers we need.” Private firm Sodexo took over the running of the jail in December 2013, after HMP Acklington and HMP Castington merged two years before. Mr Quinn added: “Worryingly, we’ve learnt that money may be changing hands between prisoners in order for assaults to be undertaken between prisoners. This will result in not only danger to prisoners, but also the staff employed at the prison. “Prisoners are reporting to our members that they’re submitting applications to see healthcare professionals, to access education opportunities or to attend rehabilitative programmes, only to not hear back.” Sean Dempsey/PA WireJustice Secretary Chris GraylingJustice Secretary Chris Grayling  The union boss accused Chris Grayling of “destroying any hopes of rehabilitation” with cuts. He said: “Just a fortnight ago we saw a prison officer hospitalised having been attacked by a prisoner. But our concerns extend further than this, if the prison is truly to release people back into the community having learnt something from their time in prison, then Sodexo need to invest the right resources. “For us, that’s the overriding concern. Businesses taking over organisations such as prisons, and soon the probation service, have a primary aim of making money for their shareholders.” A Sodexo Justice Services spokesperson said: “Staffing levels for prison visits have remained unchanged since Sodexo took over the contract and the number of prisoners attending daily appointments has improved. “We monitor incidents in the prison very closely, and there is no evidence of any change in levels of violent behaviour. “We review staffing levels at all our prisons on a regular basis and will continue to monitor them at HMP Northumberland.” The spokesman added: “We can confirm an employee at HMP Northumberland was injured during an incident with a prisoner on Saturday August 9.” Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem MP for Berwick, said: “I have raised with ministers on several occasions my concerns that the staffing levels at HMP Northumberland may not be adequate to maintain a safe prison and achieve effective resettlement, and I will continue to raise these concerns.” Labour peer Jeremy Beecham added: “Staffing at the jail was cut by a third. “Chris Grayling is in denial about the extent of this problem and this is reflected clearly at HMP Northumberland. “Staffing is becoming a widespread problem. Not only in private prisons, all have taken a big hit and it is all part and parcel of an approach which ignores the reality. “You can’t cope with the situation without adequate, trained staff.”

Aug 10, 2014 thisismoney.co.uk

Serco, the troubled outsourcing giant being probed by the Serious Fraud Office, is set to plunge into the red and is believed to be poised to ask investors for hundreds of millions of pounds. Investment bank Numis believes profits have nosedived from £106million in the first half of 2013 to a loss of £11million over the same period this year. The City expects Serco will need to raise up to 375million from shareholders in a rights issue, though this is likely to come next year after a strategic review of the company has been completed. Profits collapse: The Government suspended new contracts to Serco and rival G4S after a scandal relating to the electronic tagging of criminals +1. Profits collapse: The Government suspended new contracts to Serco and rival G4S after a scandal relating to the electronic tagging of criminals Recently-installed chief executive Rupert Soames, a grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, will on Tuesday explain to investors that there has been a catastrophic collapse in profits since the Government suspended the awarding of new contracts to Serco and its rival G4S for six months after a scandal relating to the electronic tagging of criminals. The Government had accused Serco of charging for tagging people who were either already in jail or dead. More... Insurance giant Prudential takes a profits hit as sterling gains strength Cineworld profits hit £20m thanks to The Lego Movie success and Cinema City merger SERCO SHARES: Check the latest price here Serco has agreed to refund the Government more than £70million. The company has also agreed to repay £2million in past profits on a prisoner escort contract after it was found to have claimed that it had delivered defendants ‘ready for court’ when it had actually failed to do so. The controversies led to the departure of Serco’s chief executive Chris Hyman, who was replaced by Soames, who joined from power company Aggreko. Major contracts to run the Docklands Light Railway and Westminster City Council have already been lost. But there are also fears that it could lose its £275million annual contract for operating Australia’s immigration detention centres. It recently lost the contract to provide support for Australia’s defence forces after 15 years. Soames has warned that Serco is likely to lose millions on some contracts – including those related to asylum seekers and healthcare. Serco’s share price has plunged by nearly 50 per cent this year to leave the company with a value of £1.6billion.


May 10, 2014 newint.org/blog

Frustration and despair has tipped over into protests inside detention centres across Britain over the past week, with migrants going on hunger strike and staging sit-down protests. Four of Britain’s 10 detention centres – Harmondsworth, Colnbrook, Brook House and Campsfield House  – have seen peaceful rebellions against poor conditions and imprisonment without charge since Friday 2 May.

At the time of going to press, migrants were still refusing food in both Harmondsworth in Middlesex, Britain’s largest migrant prison, and Campsfield House in Oxfordshire. ‘We’re up against the wall,’ said Musawar Khan, a Pakistani man speaking from Campsfield House, where 50 detainees went on hunger strike on 7 May. Married to a British woman, the 27-year-old has spent nearly six months locked up behind 10-foot razor wire. ‘We want to close all detention centres – they go against human rights. We want our freedom’, he said in summary of the group’s demands. Khan says detainees were riled by the abusive treatment of an Afghan man who Home Office staff were bullying into signing a voluntary return form, with the collusion of MITIE staff, a private company subcontracted to run the centre. But it was the news of the protest at Harmondsworth, which tipped them into action. Over 150 detainees in Britain’s largest detention centre kicked off the wave of protest on Friday 2 May. Migrants here focused on Britain’s asylum ‘Fast Track’, which imprisons people seeking asylum on arrival while their claims are heard and refuses 99 per cent of applicants. Demonstrators lifted an initial hunger strike on Tuesday 6 May after a meeting was promised with the Home Office but 200 people renewed the fast on 9 May when this did not materialize. ‘Instead, everyone who signed the letter [of demands] was called in by officials to be given refusals for their asylum applications, issued with flights home or intimidated,’ said Jasmine Sallis from the Glasgow Unity Centre, who is in touch with detainees. She relates how organizers are doing their best to communicate across many different language groups. They are also in contact with detainees at neighbouring Colnbook centre. Here SERCO guards broke up a meeting and put five ‘ringleaders’ into solitary confinement. Strikers were dispersed to other detention centres. Elsewhere in Britain, in Brook House, near Gatwick Airport, it is reported that an estimated 20 detainees gathered in the courtyard and refused to return to their wings overnight. Guards responding by placing 16 people in solitary. The Unity Centre reports that detainees here were in fact demanding to be sent home – driven to despair by Britain’s policy of indefinite detention. Hunger strike is one of the few means to protest available to detainees, around 85 per cent of whom are suffering from clinical depression. Self harm is often a grim barometer of emotional stress brought on by imprisonment – over 300 people required treatment for self-harm in Britain in 2013. Supporters have held demonstrations outside detention centres in solidarity with the protesters. ‘The way people are being treated at the moment is not sustainable,’ said Kathryn Hayward from Oxford Migrant Solidarity, who visited Campsfield on Thursday 8 May. ‘This is not an isolated thing. We are likely to see more protests like these with legal aid cuts coming into force and new detention centres opening. You can’t keep treating people like this.’ Detention of migrants has reached epidemic proportions in the West over the past decade. Britain saw a 12-fold increase in the last 10 years, with capacity climbing from 250 to 4,500. Nearly 30,000 migrants were imprisoned 2012-13.



Jan 25, 2014 abc.net.au

The State Opposition has accused the government of trying to cover up its dealings with private contracting firm Serco by not ordering an independent inquiry into its performance in WA. The company, which has a custodial management contract with the State Government and detention centre contracts with the Federal Government, has been criticised for a number of prisoner escapes in recent weeks. The Prison Officers Union, Police Union and WA Labor have all added their voice to calls for an independent inquiry into the company. Opposition spokesman for Corrective Services, Paul Papalia, says news that Serco's Australia Pacific chief executive has also welcomed an independent inquiry, makes the state government look like it has something to hide. "The Barnett Government has apparently signed up to a very poor contract with Serco for the provision of prisoner transport services, and it looks like they are trying to cover up their own failures," Mr Papalia said. "They need to have an open, independent inquiry." The Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis will not be commenting on the issue.


Dec 14, 2013 independent.co.uk

Under-fire Government contractor Serco has proved it is “good at bidding but not at delivery” after withdrawing from an out-of-hours GP contract in Cornwall, according to one of Westminster’s most  powerful MPs. For months former minister Margaret Hodge has questioned Serco’s management of this contract after it was revealed that the company was fiddling figures to meet key performance targets. Serco staff had claimed that every emergency caller received a face-to-face meeting within 60 minutes when one-in-four did not. However, this controversy was largely missed in the furore which was caused by the group’s involvement in the electronic-tagging scandal. A report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which the Labour MP for Barking chairs, said earlier this year that Serco was guilty of “inhibiting staff from revealing the facts about out-of-hours service to patients”. On Friday, Serco took a £17m hit on its clinical-health operations, which included early termination of the Cornwall deal and a write-down of the value of community-care work in Suffolk – also the subject of a PAC probe. In addition, Serco ended a contract to manage Braintree Hospital in Essex. Mrs Hodge told The Independent: “Serco has been desperate to build a presence in the healthcare market by undercutting [bids on] contracts at a cost to the taxpayer and a loss of service. “It’s pointless being good at getting contracts and then hopeless at delivering the services,” she added. Serco said that it had decided to end the contract early in May 2015 and would include estimated future losses in that deal of £5m in this year’s accounts. Mrs Hodge said that she was “shocked” that the terms of the contract had meant Serco could easily jump but was almost impossible to push. The results of the review came at the end of yet another tumultuous week for Serco. Just 24 hours earlier, the Government had finally ended Serco and G4S’s involvement in the electronic tagging of people in custody. The summer’s revelations that the two companies had overcharged the taxpayer by claiming to have tagged criminals who were in custody, abroad or even dead has led from Serco’s very quick fall from grace. Once a member of the elite club of Britain’s 100 listed companies, it is now in the FTSE 250.


Dec 2, 2013 bbc.co.uk

HMP Northumberland taken over by private firm Sodexo. The prison has a capacity for 1,300 inmates. A 40-year-old prison with more than 1,300 inmates has been taken over by a private firm. HMP Northumberland, in Acklington, has been taken over from the government by Sodexo Justices Service. The firm has a 15-year contract and claimed it would save the taxpayer £129m a year by cutting 200 jobs. But the Prison Officers' Association (POA) said officers posts could result in "escapes and riots". HMP Northumberland was formed by the merger of Castington and Acklington jails in 2011, but the prison building was built 40 years ago. It is a Category C jail for inmates - including vulnerable sex offenders - who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are not thought to be capable of trying to escape. Joe Simpson, spokesman for the POA, said he believed reducing staff by 200 to 380 could lead to attempted break-outs. He said: "We're talking about prison staff who are going to go away from the supervision of prisoners. There could be a riot and someone escaping - that's the worst case scenario." Barbara King, who lives in nearby Acklingham village, said she was concerned about security at the jail. Acklington village resident Barbara King is worried about security at the jail. She said: "How are they now going to control these prisoners - if they are going to reduce the staff - who is going to supervise the prisoners? "We've got an elderly population in the village - it doesn't really bear thinking about the repercussions of reducing staffing levels." Sodexo Justice Services said it had run prisons for more than 20 years in the UK. A company spokesman said reducing staff would "in no way compromise security" or the efficient running of the prison. He said the firm was confident of running a secure prison with a regime that "promotes rehabilitation". There is more on the story on Sunday Politics in the North East And Cumbria on BBC1 at 11:00 GMT.


Nov 22, 2013 morningstaronline.co.uk

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling was forced yesterday to cancel bids by notorious security privateer Serco to run three prisons. He blamed "uncertainty" created by an investigation into Serco's public contracts following allegations of fraud, putting a stop to bids for Hatfield, Moorland and Lindholme prisons. Prison officers welcomed the decision, which will keep the jails public, but called for further action. "Public prisons can be run efficiently and effectively on behalf of society," POA union general secretary Steve Gillan said. "We will continue to campaign on behalf of two public prisons which have been privatised - HMP Birmingham and HMP Northumberland - in order to secure their return to the public sector." The Serious Fraud Office has begun a criminal investigation into the firm after it was alleged to have overcharged the government for electronically tagging offenders, some of whom were found to be back in prison, dead or abroad. Serco and fellow privateer G4S have been barred from new contracts pending a wider review. But Howard League for Penal Reform chief executive Frances Crook said private companies should be kept out of prisons entirely. "Running prisons for profit means these multinationals cash in on others' misery, making more money out of increased levels of crime and a greater number of people being held in overcrowded cells," she said. "Grayling should go further and continue to reverse the justice privatisation tide currently being witnessed across the country. "Private firms are often much better at winning lucrative contracts than delivering the goods." The cancellation of the prison bids followed claims that a Serco-run pilot for Mr Grayling's push to privatise probation had failed massively. Its involvement in the community payback schemes in London - a precursor to Con-Dem plans to sell off most of the probation service. Staff cuts and shortages have caused significant problems, affecting court cases. The Ministry of Justice said there had been "bedding-in issues" but insisted that public safety "has not been compromised." Probation officers said that was rubbish, with the sell-off likely to threaten public safety while privateers cream off money from the most profitable parts of the service. Members of probation union Napo walked out on strike against the plans earlier this month. Napo has promised more action if its concerns are not met. National chairman Tom Rendon said probation officers in London were "finding it increasingly hard to enforce justice" because information supplied by Serco was "incomplete or it's late, or it's of dubious quality." The government had taken the lowest bid, he suggested, "and now the cracks are really starting to show." Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence told the Star that the rejection of Serco's prison bids had "filled probation officers with a lot of hope" that the trend will continue into the probation service.


15 February 2013 pulsetoday.co.uk

The private out-of-hours provider Serco has received another warning from the Care Quality Commission about staffing problems with its service for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. The CQC conducted a surprise inspection in December to check on whether previous staffing problems had been addressed at the Truro-based out of hours service. The commission found that there was a shortage of healthcare assistants on duty and Serco did not have enough staff to answer phone calls. Last year the service was told by the CQC that it had to improve the standard of its services and have a minimum of three GPs per shift. In May 2012 it was found that the OOH service had only one GP on call to cover more than 500,000 people after the other GP was taken ill. The company made an undertaking to increase the pool of GPs and said it was confident it would be able to meet the needs of the service. When CQC inspectors made an unannounced visit in December to check on whether action had been taken, they found the service was now compliant with four of the five essential standards for which they had previously been found deficient. However, the inspection revealed that there were still ongoing staffing problems, with not enough health care advisors (HCAs) employed to handle calls to the service. One in four calls were not being answered within the minimum time of 60 seconds and 12% of ‘urgent’ patients were not having a clinical assessment started within the benchmark time of 20 minutes. The HCAs said staff shortages meant they had to work under stress and for up to seven hours without a break. The number of GPs employed by the service had increased since the last inspection but a shift manager said that there were still shortages. Inspectors found that one car was not covered and a number of clinics in the county had doctors working their shift partly in cars and partly based at a clinic. There was no GP on duty at the call centre, but Serco said a GP did not necessarily need to be based at the call centre and could be on call. The service said it was now using a ‘wider skill mix’ including nurse advisers and nurse practitioners to provide after hours care, and GPs’ time was used more effectively by having them take telephone calls at their clinics, when call numbers were high. The CQC says it has told Serco to report by 27 February on what action they will take to meet the standards and the commission will check to make sure that action is taken. A spokesman for Serco said it welcomed CQC inspection report, which it said showed the improvement made over the past months. ‘The CQC … recognised that the number of clinical staff, particularly GPs, employed by the service in Cornwall has increased. They have also said that we need to further increase the number of HCAs in order to meet people’s needs and to meet the specific National Quality Requirement for call handling times and we fully accept this. We have a recruitment campaign under way and will have more advisors on the team by the end of February. ‘All our team in Truro have worked extremely hard to achieve this progress and I have complete confidence that we have everything needed to provide a high quality service for patients in Cornwall in 2013,’ said Dr Louis Warren, who manages the service. This article has been altered to reflect that the CQC found a shortage of healthcare assistants, and not GPs, in their December inspection as previously stated.

September 9, 2012 The Guardian
Home Office ministers have ordered weekly reports on the progress of two new contracts with the private security companies G4S and Serco to house and provide support services for thousands of asylum seekers and their families. The chief executive of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Rob Whiteman, has confirmed that serious concerns about the ability of the two companies to find housing for thousands of asylum seekers across the north of England by November has led to closer monitoring at the most senior levels of the Home Office. The £883m a year Compass contract to provide support services for dispersed asylum seekers is the largest project run by the Home Office. The two private security companies took over the five-year asylum housing contracts in four of the six UKBA regions across Britain from social landlords, including councils, in March. The companies were expected to start moving people in June. But after a contractual dispute G4S dropped its housing subcontractor for the Yorkshire and Humberside region, United Property Management, in June and its new subcontractors have yet to find enough homes. Two councils, Sheffield and Kirklees, have raised concerns about their ability to deliver the housing contract within the expected timetable. Kirklees council said that a fortnight ago, only one family out of 240 asylum seekers had been moved as part of the transition from the council to the new providers. "There are 240 asylum seekers being assisted. We understand the subcontractors are finding it difficult to procure accommodation and the council has been asked to continue to provide assistance until the end of October. There is no suggestion however that the council's contract will be renewed after this time," Whiteman has told the Commons public accounts committee there were also concerns about the two Serco contracts, one covering north-west England and the other Scotland and Northern Ireland, including the "speed at which properties are being acquired". He said the issue had been "escalated" to directly involve himself and Jeremy Oppenheim, the UKBA director of immigration and settlement. Weekly reports are also being sent to ministers. "It is not at this stage anywhere near penalties because they are acting within the contract in terms of how the work is handed over to them," Whiteman told MPs. "We do have concerns about mobilisation. We are escalating this and I have been involved in meetings on that but it is at a relatively early stage." He added there were other remedies available under the contracts but he hoped the difficulties would be resolved.

August 17, 2012 Radio New Zealand
New Zealand's only private prison operator, Serco, has been hit with another $150,000 fine for letting a second inmate escape. Graham Hay, an inmate at Auckland's Mt Eden Prison, spent 30 minutes on the run after undergoing an eye procedure at the Greenlane Clinical Centre in early June. An official report has found a non-standard pair of handcuffs was used to lock Hay to one of two guards escorting him to the appointment. The larger-than-usual cuffs slipped off Hay's wrist, allowing him to escape before he was caught by a police dog. The report says the incorrect handcuffs were used because prison officers had not properly checked the equipment beforehand. None of Serco's staff have been sacked as a result, although managing director Paul Mahoney says it has issued written warnings to some staff. The company has been ordered to make operational changes. Last year, Serco was fined $150,000 following the escape of inmate Aaron Forden. The Corrections Department is in charge of overseeing Serco's $300 million contract with the New Zealand Government. Deputy chief executive Christine Stevenson says Hay's escape was avoidable and the fine is warranted.

July 17, 2012 GP
Private provider Serco Ltd has been ordered to improve out-of-hours services it runs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly after a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found they failed to meet quality and safety standards. CQC inspectors visited the head office of Serco Ltd in April after patients raised concerns about the service. Following its investigation, the CQC issued a report stating that the provider was failing to meet four essential quality and safety standards. The report said Serco had failed to employ enough skilled staff to meet the needs of patients and that staff often worked long hours. A CQC inspection revealed that seven GPs were working for up to 13 hours a day, some from 8am until 7pm and others from 7pm until 8am. The CQC found that the shortage of doctors had resulted in an increased number of complaints to the PCT regarding the service. The report also found that Serco had failed to protect patients by not training all staff in safeguarding protocols and not making locum GPs aware of local protocols. When the CQC asked staff members about statutory staff training, they were told it was a bit ‘hit and miss’. In addition to these concerns, Serco also failed to put an effective system in place to monitor the quality of service that patients received, the CQC said. Responding to the CQC report, managing director of Serco’s clinical services Paul Forden said: ‘We can confirm that we have already implemented actions to ensure that three of the four areas have made progress and we consider that we have achieved the required standards. ‘On the fourth recommendation on training we are 92% compliant today and will fully meet the requirement within the next month. ‘We are confident that we will be able to fully satisfy the CQC that we are meeting all of the standards required when they next visit the service.’

July 5, 2012 Stuff
Private prison operator Serco has failed to meet half of its performance targets since taking over Auckland's Mt Eden Prison. A report card on Serco's performance released today reveals three inmates were wrongly released, one escaped and there were three wrongful detentions. The percentage of sentenced prisoners with an appropriate plan in place within required timeframes was only 28 per cent - two thirds lower than the 90 per cent target. Of 37 targets Serco was to meet in the nine months to April half weren't met. Corrections said Serco had accepted responsibility for one wrongful release. To date the final decision on whether they'd be fined on a second wrongful release had not been made, and discussions between both parties about whether they'd followed correct operational processes were ongoing. Corrections are to issue a performance notice for a third wrongful release that occurred in March. During its first quarter running the prison Serco was fined $150,000 after prisoner Aaron Forden escaped in February. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" escaped along with another inmate who was caught almost immediately. The firm was also fined $25,000 for releasing one inmate early and $50,000 for failing to file progress reports. Escapes and wrongful releases are listed as zero targets.

June 6, 2012 Auckland Now
Private prison operator Serco could be slapped with its second $150,000 fine this year after a prisoner escaped after getting his eyes checked on Sunday. A Mt Eden prisoner spent 30 minutes on the run after escaping while being escorted from the Greenlane Clinical Centre. The police dog unit and prison duty staff found him hiding in a garden shed at a property in Claude Rd, about 600 metres from the clinic. Auckland District Health Board spokesman Mark Fenwick said the prisoner escaped while being escorted back to the vehicle after receiving his treatment. The man is back in prison and faces charges of escaping custody. Serco, who are contracted by Corrections to manage the prison, would not comment on how the prisoner escaped. An internal inquiry is underway. Under Serco's contract with Corrections they can be fined $150,000 every time a prisoner escapes. They were fined in February after serial escaper Aaron Forden fled the prison after breaking into a service way in October, 2011.

April 27, 2012 New Zealand Herald
Private prison operators Serco have failed to meet several key performance measures since taking over running the Mt Eden Corrections Facility, a Corrections Department report shows. The report, released under the Official Information Act, shows two wrongful releases and one wrongful imprisonment in the eight months since the Mt Eden facility was handed to the British-based company. It was fined $150,000 when Aaron Stephen Forden, a prisoner dubbed "Houdini", escaped earlier this year. All of the incidents are listed as zero tolerance areas under Corrections Departments standards. Corrections chief executive Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand Serco's failure to meet several performance measures was "less than we expect". "We have been actively working with Serco to ensure that improvements are achieved." Other results showed an 82 per cent completion rate on random drug tests at the facility - 17 per cent short of the standard required. Targets for prisoner management plans and telephone call monitoring were not reached. However, random drug testing showed only a three per cent return of positive samples. The Public Service Association said the results showed the failure of privatising prisons. National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said Serco had jeopardised public safety by allowing wrongful releases and escapes. "The department may be trying to write these off as 'teething problems' but they are no such thing - these are core procedures that should be right from the start. "This report shows Serco is failing in its number one priority - to keep the public safe." Mr Wagstaff said the report showed the "folly" of opening another private prison at Wiri.

April 27, 2012 Scoop
National’s prison privatisation plan needs serious rethinking after failing to meet basic performance requirements at Mt Eden prison, Labour says. Labour’s Justice Sector Spokesperson Charles Chauvel says that the Government’s plans to privatise up to a quarter of New Zealand’s prison capacity will worsen the already dangerous failure to meet requirements. “Figures out today reveal worrying trends in Serco’s management of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility over the last eight months “Of particular concern are failures to meet drug testing and offender management plan targets, wrongful releases, and an escape from custody. “Coincidentally I visited Mt Eden yesterday, as well as the state-run Paremoremo and Auckland Women’s prisons. “While there is much positive work being done by the staff at each of them, one of the obvious realities is that a level playing field does not operate between the public and private sectors. Many of the state-run institutions have to cope with legacy facilities and procedures, which Serco is unburdened by. “In light of that – and especially since, under National Serco’s slice of the corrections pie will double once the new Wiri Prison is built next year, and up to a quarter of all inmates in the system will be under their control – the public has a right to expect Serco’s performance targets to be met.

March 1, 2012 STV
Scotland's first private prison has been criticised by inspectors for the "limited" activities provided for inmates. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Brigadier Hugh Monro has now called for improvements in the work and education programmes at HMP Kilmarnock. He also called for the overall standard of healthcare at the facility to be reviewed. The latest inspection report claimed out-of-cell activities at the jail were "limited and lack stimulation". It said "too few prisoners" attended the workshops, and that "too few prisoners also attend education and the educational facility is under-utilised". The report complained that "large numbers of prisoners are not engaged in purposeful activity". It also stated that access to activities was not good enough, with only 40% of prisoners out of the house blocks during the day. Just 200 prisoners were taking part in work during the latest inspection, and Brig Monro said: "I was not satisfied that the quality of work was sufficiently good. In some workshops some prisoners have no work to do and spend much of the time drinking tea or watching other prisoners who do have work allocated to them." Brig Monro recommended that access to work, vocational training and education at the jail is improved, and the quality of education and work should also be better. The report described the education programme as "limited and under-developed". It added: "Low numbers of prisoners access education programmes. A total of 139 prisoners out of a prison population of approximately 640 regularly attend education classes. This represents only 22% of the prison population." Brig Monro accepted there were "good points in the prison's healthcare provision, not least the mental health area, smoking cessation, dental treatment and alcohol programme".

November 23, 2011 The Age
THE multinational company that runs Australia's immigration detention network has been fined $15 million for failing in its duty of care to asylum seekers and underperformance . The immigration department has told a federal parliamentary inquiry it had docked $14.8 million from monthly payments to SERCO between March 2010 and June 2011 because of poor management of the detention centres, and docked another $215,000 from SERCO's contract to run immigration housing centres. SERCO was paid $375 million to run immigration centres last year, and $101 million in the three months to October 2011. The secretive contract the federal government signed with SERCO withholds payment for audited ''abatements'' each month. Escapes, failure to secure perimeter fences, not providing activities or reporting major incidents, not giving access to visitors, interpreters or legal representatives, poor building conditions and food safety can trigger fee reductions. The penalty is limited by the contract to 5 per cent of SERCO's monthly fee. The $15 million fine, revealed in written submissions to the inquiry, is therefore near the upper limit of what the Immigration Department would have been contractually able to penalise SERCO in a period plagued by riots, fires, suicides and escalating detainee self harm.

November 18, 2011 AAP
SECURITY company Serco has been asked to explain why a refugee was locked in isolation after he suffered an electric shock while scaling a fence at a Darwin detention centre. The Joint Select Committee on Australia's Immigration Detention Network is conducting an extensive inquiry into the effect of detention on detainees, in the wake of a series of detention centre riots. Serco, which has a contract with the federal government to run the centres, was questioned today over a refugee being locked in a room by guards for more than an hour, after he suffered an electric shock while climbing a fence at Darwin's Northern Immigration Detention Centre on November 15. The man, who was declared a refugee a year ago and was awaiting security clearance, was reportedly attempting to see friends in another compound, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the inquiry in Melbourne. Ms Hanson-Young said he was only taken to hospital after he collapsed, then was again locked up in isolation after he returned. "In this scenario, which is a real scenario, who made the decision that this man was to be locked up on his own?" Senator Hanson-Young asked Serco managing director Chris Manning. Mr Manning told her he would look into the incident and report back to the committee on his findings. Senator Hanson-Young also asked him about concerns raised in a recent report by health and safety authority Comcare over underqualified staff working at immigration detention centres. "You don't have a client to staff ratio," she said of the contract the security firm has with the government. Mr Manning told her staffing levels were reviewed regularly. "They are based on a number of factors ... if there are safety issues then we would take a view on whether more staff were required," he said.

October 16, 2011 BBC
More than 25,000 cab journeys have taken place since August, Serco said. The Ministry of Justice has admitted a private security firm is using black cabs to take prison inmates to court. The firm, Serco, has a seven-year deal - with a further three-year option - worth up to £420m. But the company has been forced to transport inmates in London and east England in cabs after their computerised booking system failed. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer said he would raise the issue with Home Secretary Theresa May. 'Extraordinarily expensive' -- Mr Mercer said he was worried about the cost of hiring cabs, and the perception defendants were being driven around in luxury. "I just think it is ridiculous that a security company such as Serco misjudges things so badly that prisoners are moved to and fro in black taxis," he said.

October 10, 2011 3 News
Private prison operator SERCO faces a $150,000 fine after the man nicknamed “Houdini” escaped from its custody. Aaron Forden scaled the perimeter fence of Mt Eden Corrections Facility early this morning. He was pursued by a police dog, but got away in a waiting car. Forden used knotted bed sheets to escape from Mt Eden Prison in 2008. “I would consider him to be unpredictable and therefore dangerous and that members of the public should not approach him,” says Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman. “But it’s only with assistance from the public and his associates that we will catch him.” Forden is known to change his appearance to avoid capture.

August 25, 2011 The West Australian
A former Serco employee at Curtin Detention Centre says treatment of detainees by some staff members was "outrageously brutal" and they were bullied constantly. Seven asylum seekers were flown from Curtin and put in isolation on Christmas Island on Tuesday night because of increased tensions at the remote centre, 40km from Derby. The Immigration Department confirmed two men tried to escape on Friday. They climbed an internal fence but did not get past the electric perimeter fence. A spokeswoman denied the men were injured in the incident and said they were not among three detainees denied treatment at Broome Hospital on Tuesday for speaking to a member of the public in a waiting room. The former employee, who recently resigned and asked not to be named, spoke of growing tensions at Curtin where there were three staff who had "no training, no idea and no perceived intention to provide any welfare" to detainees. "The fact two Serco guards have committed suicided since April is evidence that not everyone can live with this on their conscience," they said. An elderly Afghan man who had asked in July to be moved to a single room because he believed he "smelled" - a problem attributed to mental health issues - was manhandled by staff. They claimed a department case manager and Serco welfare officer called the man a liar after a short interview and, as he tried to leave the room, two "burly" Serco guards shoved him to the ground. He spent four days in hospital with back injuries, the former employee said. Employees were scared to talk to anyone outside the centre about such incidents, particularly the media, for fear of being identified or sacked. "The expulsion of the Serco man at Christmas Island recently and the sacking of the mental health nurse from Darwin last week is evidence that it is a real threat," they said. Habib, 28, an Afghan asylum seeker released in July after 15 months in detention, fears for friends inside. He said some staff were uncaring and detainees were scared to speak out in case it affected their status. Many were depressed after waiting many months for interviews. The immigration spokeswoman rejected claims detainees were treated badly. "We require that our staff and Serco staff treat detainees with dignity and respect," she said. There were complaint processes and allegations were always investigated. She said there were no recent complaints of mistreatment.

August 19, 2011 The Age
A MENTAL health nurse has been sacked from a Darwin detention centre for saying she believes mandatory detention contributes to mental illness in asylum seekers. A letter sent by her employer, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), and obtained by The Age, says her job was terminated last Friday after Serco detention centre managers and Immigration Department staff complained that she was ''expressing negative political opinions'' about detention. The federal government's Detention Health Advisory Group, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian Psychological Society yesterday called for mandatory detention to be abandoned. Their call came after documents submitted to a parliamentary inquiry showed high levels of self-harm, with 213 detainees treated for self-inflicted injuries and 700 for ''voluntary starvation'' in the first six months of this year. The chairwoman of the advisory group, Professor Louise Newman, said she was concerned that a political view could be held against a health worker. IHMS spokeswoman Melissa Lysaght said last night that staff were entitled to political opinions but needed to work in a team environment. ''In fact, that is not a reason for terminating someone, because everyone is entitled to a political opinion,'' Ms Lysaght said. ''In hindsight, the phrasing of the letter was incorrect.'' She said the woman had been sacked for professional standards reasons, after working there for two weeks. Amanda Gordon, of the Australian Psychological Society, said yesterday there was clear scientific evidence of the harm caused by indefinite detention, which ''exacerbates trauma, and creates mental illness, in contravention of the government's own commitment to reduce it''. Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said yesterday his attack on the mandatory detention policy at the AMA's parliamentary dinner this week had been prompted by ''terrible stories'' being reported by paediatricians and psychiatrists who went inside detention centres. Dr Paul Bauert, director of paediatrics at the Royal Darwin Hospital, said children as young as four and five had been caught up in hunger strikes that their parents were involved in, and were treated at his hospital. ''They weren't eating and required intravenous and gastric drips,'' he said.

August 17, 2011 IT News
Australia's Department of Immigration has blamed IT systems for delays in turning over detailed information on serious incidents recorded at detention centres to a parliamentary inquiry. The Joint Select Committee on Australia's Immigration Detention Network, established 16 June and convened for the first time last night, received 597 pages of data [pdf] from the department on incidents recorded at detention facilities since January 2008. It had sought from the department copies of all incident reports filed by immigration facility managers Serco and health services provider International Health and Medical Services (IHMS). The department said it had received 9157 incident reports from Serco between 1 October 2009 and the 30 June 2011. These were recorded in a Compliance, Case Management, Detention and Settlement (CCMDS) portal. The department also received 1869 reports from G4S, a firm that managed detention centres before Serco was contracted. G4S incidents were recorded in a "legacy system" called the Immigration Services Information System (ISIS). The department claimed there was no quick way of accessing incident reports, such as use of a batch process for extraction. "It would take a departmental officer approximately 919 hours of work (this is equivalent to around 25 weeks of work for a full time officer) to extract all reports from the system as each report needs to be extracted individually," the department said. Instead, the department produced a spreadsheet that aggregated every incident recorded according to tags such as "escape", "voluntary starvation" and "self-harm". The department said that getting to IHMS incident reports prior to January 2010 was difficult because they were not electronically recorded at this time. Alleged abuse against staff -- The committee had also sought detailed data on actions taken by Serco for incidents where the contractor's or department's staff had been allegedly abused or threatened "by detainees or other persons within the Detention Network". Department figures showed Serco recorded 871 instances of "alleged or observed inappropriate behaviour... towards Serco staff" until 30 June this year. "Action taken by Serco in relation to these incidents are recorded in multiple systems depending upon the nature of the incident," the department noted. "The very detailed information sought in the [committee's] question is not readily available in consolidated form and it would be a major task to collect and assemble it. "In order to report on the outcome for each incident, the department would need to manually interrogate these systems. "The department estimates that this would take a departmental officer an average of 30 minutes for each incident. This equates to approximately 58 working days." Figures that were released by the department showed the number of detainees hospitalised, treated for starvation and injuries from self-harm.

August 11, 2011 ABC
The report details a system unable to respond to serious threats like April's riots in Sydney's Villawood detention centre. ABC1's Lateline has been given exclusive access to a wide-ranging report delivered by Comcare, the Federal Government's workplace safety agency. It paints a picture of systemic under-training of staff and a lack of preparation to deal with the constant threat of violence, protests and self-harm. The revelations come as yet another boat carrying 100 asylum seekers arrives on Christmas Island, adding to overcrowding at the detention centre there. The Comcare report is scathing about overcrowding issues set to worsen with the new arrivals. Once inside the detention centre the latest arrivals face a system that places them and their guards in danger, according to the Comcare report. The report identifies five major failures by the Department of Immigration across the detention centre network: •There is no risk management process, despite the highly volatile environment. •There is no plan to alter staffing levels to deal with dramatic fluctuations in detainee numbers. •Staff are not trained to the point where they are confident and competent in their jobs. •There is no effective written plan to deal with critical incidents like riots and suicide attempts. •And no steps are taken to manage detainees' religious and cultural needs, detainees are roomed together even when there's a history of extreme violence between their ethnic groups in their homes countries. The Federal Opposition obtained the report under freedom of information. "There are system-wide failures in the detention network and I think that's what this report bares out, and I think it totally justifies the Coalition's call for a parliamentary inquiry into the detention network," Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said. The report details a system unable to respond to serious threats to life and limb like April's riots in Sydney's Villawood detention centre. "There were clear indicators (that Villawood staff advise were present at the time) that the riots were reasonably foreseeable. Despite the apparent clear indications, no critical incident plans were in place for staff to follow, should such a situation occur," the report said. The report backs up claims made by guards at detention centres that proper training is not provided. "Basically, from what I've seen, the new recruits were just basically put on the floor, no training whatsoever, they were being told that they would be trained as they were," a Serco guard said. Serco is the company which runs the detention network on behalf of the Immigration Department. The lack of training has led to serious ramifications identified in the Comcare report, which details how Serco staff are thrown into situations of extreme risk with little idea of how to respond. "Serco staff provided information about the level of serious assaults on staff, witnessing the deaths of detainees and the distress of having to deal with it. Staff also advised of feeling inadequately trained and the lack of instruction and supervision/support during times of critical incidents," the report said. 'Damning report' Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the report is damning. "They don't have access it seems in this report [to] a clear plan for dealing with self-harm and suicide, the report is very damning of a lack of management and management plans for incidents, and so they are left to their own devices," she said. "This report is quite damning [in] that there is a culture of non-disclosure, a culture of secrecy, total lack of transparency and what we see is we don't know how many cases of self-harm there are, how many incidents that have had to be escalated to different levels." But Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan says Comcare has "ignored and made errors" in terms of the training the department is doing "around cultural awareness, training around detention operations and training of case managers". Lateline recently obtained a log of incidents in the Christmas Island detention centre detailing up to 12 incidents of self-harm or attempted suicide per day. The Comcare report suggests the number could be higher, as could other dangerous events: "... there is (a) level of under-reporting of notifiable incidents in accordance with s68 of the OHS Act." Mr Logan rejects the suggestion that there is under-reporting of incidents in the immigration detention network. "What in fact there have been at times is where there have been serious incidents that have occurred is we have had to wait for the full medical report, the legal report, any police investigation into that incident before it's been brought to Comcare's attention," Mr Logan said. Comcare told Lateline it has identified a number of potential breaches by the Immigration Department of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It says the department has got until Monday week to respond, or face the possibility of a $250,000 fine. The report also details attempts by the Immigration Department to hamper investigations into its safety performance. Mr Logan rejects any suggestion there was a lack of cooperation by the department. "We would reject any suggestion that we did not cooperate with Comcare. I think there may have been some miscommunication on a couple of occasions," Mr Logan said. A parliamentary inquiry will look into the immigration detention centre network next Tuesday.

July 13, 2011 The Australian
THE company running Australia's immigration detention centres is incurring unsustainable fines from the Department of Immigration for breaches of its $712 million contract, according to a leaked email from Serco's senior operations manager at the Christmas Island detention centre. An escape on July 1 -- about three months after Australian Federal Police were sent to bolster the security at the centre and insist that electric perimeter fences be switched on -- is the latest in a string of breaches that will cost Serco dearly. The company last week appointed a full-time security manager to prevent further escapes. Guards are now stationed on the perimeter of the centre under beach umbrellas on 12-hour shifts, complaining it is too hot and that shade falls on the other side of the fence for several hours each day. Serco's senior operations manager for the detention centre, Steve Southgate, addressed colleagues about continued breaches in an email last Monday. "We can no longer remain where we are," he said. "We are getting fined for things that should have been completed. We are getting fined for not paying attention to the detail. We are getting fined for not doing what we have said we will do. We need to change our culture to a proactive culture and get ourselves out of this reactive blame culture." Mr Southgate arrived on the island after mass breakouts, unrest and rioting in March that led to the AFP taking over the centre temporarily. Those incidents are likely to have resulted in substantial fines -- called abatements -- for Serco, though the firm's contract stipulates that fines are capped at 5 per cent of whatever the company gets paid that month for running the centre where the breaches occurred. The 5 per cent cap does not apply if the breaches are deemed "significant or continuous".

May 30, 2011 TangataWhenua.com
Not only is Serco’s contract commercial in confidence, it has now been revealed the detention centre operator receives little scrutiny from the Department of Immigration, reports Adam Brereton from Canberra. Not only is the $1 billion contract awarded to detention centre operator Serco beyond the reach of public scrutiny, but Senate Estimates hearings today revealed that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects scant data on breaches and has limited knowledge and oversight of staff training levels. In what was a stellar confirmation of the Greens’ reputation as Senate watchdogs, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young doggedly pressed DIAC assistant secretary Fiona Lynch-Magor over allegations that Serco has been posting untrained and inexperienced guards to Australia’s overcrowded detention centres, with surprising results. When asked by Hanson-Young, the DIAC official was unable to list the number of times Serco had breached the “management and service” provision of the contract, relating to detention centre operations, because the contract “doesn’t record specific breaches per incident”, instead measuring Serco’s performance under a “series of abatements that apply to certain metrics”. The abatements, issued as retrospective fines, have been occurring on Lynch-Magor’s admission “since the beginning of the contract”, but are “not recorded in a recordable number”. “Systemic” breaches trigger “continuous failure” under the contract, which has a multiplier effect on the abatement issued. Senator Hanson-Young appeared increasingly frustrated with Lynch-Magor’s answers, which became more circuitous as the questioning continued. When asked whether a failure to train staff properly could be considered a breach, she replied that Serco was “required to undertake all the training we require them to do”, and listed Certificate 2 requirements for centre chefs and guards. Lynch-Magor told the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that DIAC had requested Serco prove their staff were properly trained “earlier this week”, and had received an immediate response. When Senator Hanson-Young asked the number of staff who “were asked to leave”, she was told that wasn’t information the department usually requested from Serco. “So the department doesn’t know how many untrained staff have been on the ground… as of earlier this week?” the Senator replied. The assembled DIAC officials assured Senator Hanson-Young they “have ongoing monitoring of the Serco contract” — a contract manager in each facility, plus centre and national level monitoring, and “would expect Serco to respond immediately.” “You’re telling me you have no record of how many times the contract supervisors have had to request staff be removed?” Senator Hanson-Young asked. DIAC asked the question be put on notice, ending that line of enquiry. When queried about public disclosure, DIAC explained that those parts of the Serco contract that were outside public scrutiny were justified — centre maps, operational details, and commercial performance indicators. The Senator didn’t buy it. “So the list of items that could qualify as a breach of the contract are not public, and the department doesn’t audit the list of breaches — what breaches happen, how many breaches happen — at what stage is there any type of transparency?” she asked. By this stage Lynch-Magor was feeling the heat. She told the Standing Committee the abatements regime is audited and can be quantified. Serco’s abatements regime is a “performance metric” assessed against a number of criteria, compiled by DIAC monthly — individual breaches aren’t collated — and there is no ticking or crossing. It’s not a system where “five particular events occurred and that added up to the number five”, Lynch-Magor said. “And where is that publicly disclosed?” Senator Hanson-Young asked. “It’s not publicly disclosed,” Lynch-Magor confessed. “So the contract whereby the list of requirements that Serco has to fulfill is not for public disclosure, the possible items that would qualify as a breach is not publicly disclosed, the performance of whether they are actually upholding or breaching that service delivery performance is not publicly disclosed — where in this process is there the public interest and transparency of this contract?” Lynch-Magor made a noise much like the last puff of air being expelled from a balloon. “It doesn’t exist, does it? If it’s up to Senate Estimates, well we need to see those things tabled,” the Senator added. “It might be worth noting Senator that we have an extensive process of internal and external auditors,” Lynch-Magor added. “I think I’ve made my point,” Senator Hanson-Young concluded. The Federal Opposition is currently seeking the support of the independents and Greens to conduct a broad-based inquiry into immigration detention.

May 25, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department says riots at the Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres are estimated to have caused about $9 million in damage. A number of buildings were destroyed during violent protests at both centres earlier this year. Department spokeswoman Fiona Lynch-Magor told a Senate hearing the company that runs the centres, Serco, will make an insurance claim for the damage. "We've made some early assessments of what we think those costs will be with our insurer," she said. "But Serco will be pursuing the insurance with their own insurer." The Immigration Department also says there were not enough federal police on Christmas Island to arrest asylum seekers who escaped from the detention centre during protests earlier this year. A large group of asylum seekers broke through the detention centre fence during the riots and the Senate hearing heard they were offered a lift back to the detention centre. Department spokeswoman Jackie Wilson says it was not possible to arrest the group. "The numbers of police on the island and the need to secure the airport as a priority did not enable us to have sufficient AFP on the island to do that," she said. "We were trying to do it in a peaceful way which required working with the clients rather than using AFP, which were being used for another purpose at the time." The Opposition says the lack of federal police left the island in a vulnerable position. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says it backs his argument for a parliamentary inquiry into the detention network. "[It's] very concerning that there were not sufficient police on the island when things broke out," he said. "What makes [this] worse is the department confirmed that the number and type of incidents were escalating and getting more serious, which was a clear indication that things were ... [the] temperature was rising and things were getting out of hand." The Government has already established a number of inquiries into the detention network.

May 25, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
THE contrast in lifestyle could not be more stark. The man in charge of Australia's detention centres lives in this Sydney Harbour waterfront apartment - a world away from detainees living in overcrowded conditions just 30km away at the Villawood detention centre. David Campbell, the boss of Serco, lives in the $2.5 million three-bedroom apartment at McMahons Point. With estimates the highly-secretive Serco will make $1 billion from running detention centres until 2014, it is expected, with bonuses, that Mr Campbell's salary will only rise. Locals said apartments in the block featured only the best finishes: Spanish stone on the kitchen floors, eucalyptus granite on benchtops, stone-finished bathrooms and myrtle-veneer finishes for kitchens. Mr Campbell does not own the property, but local sources said a typical rent for the apartment would be $2000 a week. The apartment block is heavily secured - at the same time our detention centres have suffered some well-publicised breaches in recent months. A report this month by Amnesty International suggested that overcrowding at the Serco-run detention centres was a problem. Even Serco admitted that with boat people arriving in record numbers, there were "significant pressures on the operation of detention facilities". But the only boat people Mr Campbell is likely to see at his McMahons Point pad are the yachtie and motor cruiser set, with eight marina berths exclusively used by residents. And there is no sign he will have to vacate his luxury quarters in the near future.

May 12, 2011 The Australian
The Gillard government has secretly doubled the fee paid to global prisons contractor Serco, which will now charge taxpayers $712 million to manage the nation's immigration detention network. Government tender records reveal that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship secretly increased the contract price in November last year, barely 11 months after publicly announcing the cost to be $367m. Serco, which manages government prisons in Australia, Britain, the US, Europe and New Zealand, has also been fined several times for breaching contract conditions. The Immigration Department yesterday refused to say how or when Serco had breached its contract, or how much the department had penalised the company by withholding contract payments. "We can't got into detail on the total amount of any fines imposed, as this information is considered commercial-in-confidence," a department spokesman said. "Disclosure of such details has the potential to damage the commercial reputation of the detention services provider. "The contract provides for the contractor to be penalised where it is proven that lax work practices or incompetence have resulted in negligence and contributed to loss and damage of commonwealth assets." During Serco's management, asylum-seekers recently set fire to detention centres on Christmas Island and at Villawood, in Sydney, where they have staged regular rooftop protests and hunger strikes. Nine Chinese nationals escaped from Villawood last year. This week's budget papers reveal that the Gillard government has also granted Serco legal and financial indemnities. Serco is responsible for insuring the Immigration Department against loss and damage, or any personal liability claims arising from its management of detention centres, but the government has agreed that Serco will be liable to pay only $75m, on top of any insurance payouts. "What this means is that in the course of negotiating the contract, the commonwealth has agreed to meet any additional liability beyond $75m in the event of certain circumstances," the department's spokesman said. "This is consistent with previous detention service provider contracts, and for Serco to achieve unlimited liability in all circumstances would result in additional contract costs. "Such a decision was taken to ensure value for money and was subject to a full risk assessment." The spokesman confirmed that the contract price had blown out to $712m because Serco had been handed extra facilities to manage and needed to recruit more staff. The government has opened four detention centres: the high-security Curtin facility and a lower-security family centre at Leonora in Western Australia; Scherger in Queensland's Cape York; and Inverbrackie in South Australia. A Serco spokeswoman said yesterday the government did not allow it to discuss any conditions of its contract. "We don't give staffing numbers for our sites due to security reasons," she said. Serco won the five-year contract in 2009, taking over from rival provider G4S. In a statement to the British stock exchange, Serco revealed that the contract "may be extended for a further four years" -- a detail left out of the Immigration Department's public announcement.

May 6, 2011 Big Pond
A Christmas Island detention centre guard has accused management of a series of cover-ups. The guard said Serco, a private company that runs Australia's detention centres, was keeping the immigration department in the dark about the problems it faces at its facilities. Choosing to remain anonymous, he told ABC television on Thursday a management officer shredded a report detailing an incident in which he was attacked. 'You might get an unruly detainee, and Immigration will say Oh no, you can't do anything, you can't touch him' even if he pushes you, shoves ya, you just look at him,' the guard said. 'If you write him up, sometimes it goes into Bin 13 - and that's it.' He said Bin 13 was code among staff for the shredder. Asked if such cover-ups were a regular occurrence, he replied: 'I'd say so.' The man also accused Serco of inflating staff numbers and having guards on the rosters that didn't exist. 'Yep, they're not on the island, but they're on the roster.' The guard said he and his colleagues sometimes would go to work drunk, but were never punished because of the worker shortage. The ABC broadcast statements from two other Serco guards who agreed staff numbers were low. One said that during a riot in February, there had been 15 guards watching over 2500 detainees. Serco has been contacted for comment. The cover-up claims come as Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was forced to rebuke his department for not alerting him to the discovery of a homemade bomb at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre. He conceded he should have been alerted when the primitive device was found in March, just a month before a riot and major fire broke out, damaging nine buildings.

April 19, 2011 ABC Radio Australia News
New allegations have surfaced that staff at Australia's Christmas Island detention centre are being pressured not to report troublesome incidents. Kaye Bernard from the Christmas Island Workers union claims the company that manages the facility, Serco, has instructed workers not to report incidents, including self-harm. Ms Bernard claims it's because the company doesn't want to be fined by the Government if its found to have breached its contractual obligations. "They've certainly instructed some of our members that they will not, that they will not tolerate them reporting incidents as they are required to do over the contract with DIAC and if you do report incidents you get a window seat, you get flown off the island," she said. In a statement Serco has strongly denied the allegation.

March 2, 2011 ABC
The company in charge of Australia's detention facilities has been fined for a series of escapes by detainees. The Immigration Department claims Serco has breached the contract conditions to run the detention centres, with almost 50 detainees escaping since June 2009 and 35 still on the run. The fines are reported to exceed $4 million, but the Government has refused to comment. Yesterday Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison said an escape from Sydney's Villawood detention centre was a sign of a system in crisis. On Tuesday morning a Fijian national being held at the facility after his visa had been cancelled managed to escape. Six other men also attempted to flee the centre but were stopped by staff. The department ordered an investigation into the escape.

February 19, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department says there are 16 people still missing from the country's detention centres after they escaped during the past year. The Department says there has been 41 escapes from detention centres across the country between July 2010 and January this year. Twenty-five people have been found but officials have no idea where the remaining 16 are. A spokeswoman for the Minister for Immigration says the Government considers any escapes from detention to be unacceptable. She says the company contracted to run the centres, Serco, has been fined for several escapes, saying the breakouts have been a breach of the contract conditions. The Government says if further action is required against Serco, it will not hesitate to act. It says the number of escapes has decreased significantly compared to 10 years ago.

January 13, 2011 Streatham Guardian
The escape of a dangerous prisoner from a Wimbledon court has sparked an investigation – as magistrates voiced concerns about security at the building. Private security firm Serco, which is contracted to escort prisoners appearing at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court, has said it will examine how he was able to climb out of the dock to go on the run for 11 days before handing himself in to the police in Battersea on Friday. The man, who was not handcuffed when he appeared in the locked dock last Monday after his arrest in Wandsworth, climbed on to a bench before hauling himself over a plastic wall that supposedly sealed the dock from the rest of court number one. The escape of the 21-year-old from West Norwood prompted police appeals, in which the public were told he was dangerous and should not be approached. He had just been told he was to be kept in custody for two months before facing three charges of robbery, allegedly stealing cash and electrical equipment in Merton and Wandsworth last year, and one of carrying a bladed weapon. One magistrate at the Alexandra Road court said they heard there was not enough security in the court building on the day of the escape. They said: “If he was on the loose I would have to dive under the table.”

November 1, 2010 BBC
Outsourcing group Serco has abandoned plans to pass on the impact of government spending cuts to suppliers. Serco, which carries out a host of government contracts, had asked its largest suppliers to pay a 2.5% rebate. The company said it now wished to "apologise unreservedly" to its suppliers, and had retracted letters asking for the rebate. The government is reported to have been angered by Serco seeking rebates from its suppliers, but has yet to comment. Serco upbeat despite cuts drive Serco operates a number of public sector contracts on behalf of the government and local authorities. These include running four prisons including Doncaster, the maintenance of a number of RAF bases including Brize Norton, and the operation of London's Docklands Light Railway. Shares in the firm were down 6% in morning trading on the London Stock Exchange, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 index.

October 20, 2010 International Business Times
Federal authorities confirmed on Thursday that an investigation is underway on alleged security loopholes in Darwin's immigration facilities following the lapses that occurred last month, which was punctuated by a peaceful protest of detained immigrants who sprung out from the centre. An Immigration Department spokesman admitted that the Northern Territory Licensing Commission is conducting an inquiry on Serco, which was tasked by the department to provide for security on the detention facilities. The same official told AAP that Serco is delegating some of its responsibilities to MSS Security though he stressed that the Immigration Department has ensured that the security firm was duly reminded to only employ trained and licensed personnel and comply with all relevant laws. The spokesman also revealed that some former MSS Security employees were facing compliance actions and Serco has been cooperative so far with the ongoing investigation, which came following series of incidents in the past few months where asylum seekers rioted in the facilities, vandalised the centre and staged a protest action after breaking out of detention. Meanwhile, federal opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison warned that the government would be made responsible if allegations of unlicensed workers were made to man the immigration centre were proven true. Mr Morrison told ABC that the government cannot put the entire blame on security contractors since it has the ultimate responsibility as he stressed that "the government must ensure that that licensed operators are only ever used in the care and supervision of people who are being detained by the state."

September 28, 2010 Fairfield City Champion
REFUGEE advocates say the company contracted to run Villawood Detention Centre broke a promise to Tamil detainees a day after the detainees agreed to end a rooftop protest. The detainees climbed onto the roof of the centre's stage three building last Monday after a Fijian man who had earlier been on the roof fell to his death. The detainees had stayed on top of the building until the following night, threatening to jump unless the Immigration Department agreed to refer their claims for asylum to United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR. Advocate Sara Nathan said the group had peacefully ended its protest after assurances by the contractor, Serco, that they would not be moved to high security detention. "This was a request made prior to them coming [down] and was instrumental in concluding the stand-off," she said. "A department officer present at the time also instructed the contractor not to punish any of the protesters, and that was agreed." Less than 48 hours later, the detainees were moved to stage one detention, where Ms Nathan said there was no natural light and no showers, toilets or doors on bedrooms. A Serco spokeswoman referred all questions on the running of the centre to the department. A department spokesman said it could not comment on the running of the centre, but that Serco was preparing a report into the incident. The department confirmed last week a second rooftop protest at the centre by a group of five men and four women also ended peacefully.

May 23, 2010  The Daily Telegraph
Under the scheme, the publicly-funded broadcaster handed over footage to inmates who earn just £30 a week rather than members of its own 23,000 staff. Convicts at a privately run Category B jail, the second-highest security level, transferred tapes of old television shows to computer to save them for posterity. Senior staff in the BBC’s archives department visited the jail to watch the work in progress while meetings were held to discuss a landmark deal for the prisoners to digitise all 1million hours of programmes in its vaults. Fearful about the controversy the scheme could cause, the BBC never discussed it publicly and even the broadcasting union, Bectu, was unaware of it. Details were obtained by this newspaper through a Freedom of Information request that took more than four months rather than the usual 20 working days. The BBC insists that it has not given any money to Serco, the private jail operator, for the secret scheme nor signed any contracts, following the pilot project last year. However emails disclosed by the corporation show that it had shown considerable interest in the innovative project proposed by Serco, which runs four prisons in England. The BBC owns more than 1m hours of historic content, some of it decades old and at risk of being lost. It employs 66 people to look after it, at a cost of £5m a year, in its Information and Archives department. The corporation estimates it would take 10 years to safely copy all 100m items in its collection into longer-lasting digital formats. In December 2008 it was approached by Serco to become involved in Artemis – Achieving Rehabilitation Through Establishing a Media Ingest Service – a new project for prisoners to transfer archive documents to computers. Serco said it would provide “high-quality employment” and the chance of an NVQ qualification for inmates and HMP Lowdham Grange, a 628-capacity jail near Nottingham all of whose inmates are serving at least four years. The firm said this would mean it could provide a “stable work force”. The BBC was told it would prove a “very cost-effective” way of digitising its archive, and several meetings were organised to discuss plans. Managers agreed to hand over 20 hours of old videos, including episodes of Horizon and Earth Story, so prisoners could transfer them to computer and also add “meta-data” – typed detailed descriptions of the footage to help producers search through it more easily. The British Library and National Archives also provided material for the pilot project. In September last year, five members of BBC staff visited the jail, where a production workshop had been built, and were reported to be “pleased” with what they saw of the prisoners’ work and enthusiasm. However David Crocker, the driving force behind the scheme at Serco, admitted: “The major concern was around the potential negative newspaper headlines that the BBC may attract.” The company did discuss the scheme with one newspaper and one trade magazine but made no reference to the BBC’s involvement. In November, Mr Crocker told the BBC: “I can’t thank you enough for finding a project for us to kick-start Artemis.” He said his staff were drawing up “terms of reference” and would then “cost the project” of a full-scale digitisation of the BBC’s archive. However no deals have yet been signed. The BBC said: “The BBC did hold discussions with Serco about their planned project to digitise archives. As part of this the BBC, alongside other organisations, provided some material for Serco to use as part of its feasibility study for the project. “No payment was made to Serco as part of this, nor was any guarantee or promise of work entered into. “The BBC has no plans to work with Serco to digitise its programme archive and has not come to any agreements nor signed any contracts with any firms about utilising the prison workforce on any project.”

May 16, 2010 Northern Territory News
A CHINESE woman was still on the run last night - two days after she escaped detention from a Darwin motel. The Immigration Department confirmed the woman slipped away from the motel on Thursday morning and is yet to be found. The same firm, Serco, that allowed eight people to flee from Sydney's Villawood detention centre, is being blamed for her escape. A source told the Sunday Territorian that federal police had detained the woman and a Chinese man at Darwin airport after the pair allegedly arrived from a Bali flight with fake passports. The source said the woman had to be rushed to hospital when she panicked and swallowed a ring at the airport. She was allegedly left unattended at the hospital before she was moved to the Darwin motel and put into the care of security guards. The man is still believed to be in detention.

May 13, 2010 London Evening Standard
Docklands Light Railway operator Serco has been fined £450,000 after it failed to stop a train which hit and killed a man who had fallen off a platform. Robert Carter, 34, stumbled on to the lines at All Saints station following a late-night argument with another passenger, Paul Green. Mr Green telephoned police to say Mr Carter had a knife and had fallen on to the track. Officers asked the DLR control room to check if someone was on the lines, but this was treated as an “informal request” rather than an actual report, Southwark Crown Court was told. A control room operator failed to see Mr Carter on the track and did not halt the trains, which are automatic and do not have an actual driver. Shortly afterwards another member of the control room staff saw a police officer on All Saints station's CCTV waving his arms above his head. This operator immediately pressed an emergency plunger to halt an oncoming train but it was too late. The wheels struck Mr Carter, who suffered serious injuries and died in hospital. Serco was also ordered to pay £43,773 costs. It was found guilty last month, under health and safety regulations, of failing to ensure its automatic trains did not hit people who were on the tracks. Judge Deborah Taylor, passing sentence yesterday, said: “Serco fell considerably below what was required of it.” Procedures were “not robust or comprehensive enough” in dealing with incidents of human error. But the judge said it was clear that Serco “took safety seriously “ and there was “no suggestion profit was put before safety”. David Travers, QC, prosecuting for the Office of Rail Regulation, said Mr Carter was involved in an altercation with another passenger at All Saints. “After he fell, it would appear that Mr Carter was unable or unwilling to move — whether through injuries from the fall, intoxication or for some other reason is unknown,” said Mr Travers. “DLR staff looked at the station on their CCTV monitors, which are not suitable for seeing if anyone is on the track, and failed to see Mr Carter. The train which killed Mr Carter could have been stopped before reaching the station.” Jurors were played a recording of the British Transport Police call to the DLR control centre, in which line controller Paul Day was heard to say: “There's certainly no one on the track.” Stephen Moody, for Serco, said it had made several changes since the incident and improved safety procedures. It denied one count of failing to comply with its health and safety duties.

March 12, 2010 BBC
A custody officer has been charged with conspiring to supply drugs and smuggle phones into jails by handing them to prisoners at Inner London Crown Court. Former Serco employee Alan Redmond, 24, was held by the London Prison Anti-Corruption Team (LPACT) on 10 December after a long-running inquiry. Mr Redmond, of Elephant and Castle, south London, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court earlier in the week. He is also accused of misconduct and is due at Southwark Crown Court on 13 May. Hayley Turner, 30, of Chislehurst, Kent, and Jonathan Lawlor, 28, of no fixed address, have been charged alongside Mr Redmond with conspiring to supply drugs and conspiracy to smuggle prohibited articles into prison. Another woman, 30, has also arrested in connection with the investigation but no charges have made. A spokesman for Serco said Mr Redmond no longer worked for the company. "I can confirm a former member of Serco staff appeared in court. "This is now a police matter and we are co-operating fully with the relevant authorities."

March 10, 2010 Luton Today
A group of detainees who claim they suffered 'inhumane and degrading treatment' while at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre are suing the Home Office. The 11 women have employed Leigh Day & Co solicitors to seek damages from the government and Serco, the private security company which runs the Clapham detention centre. The women, who are still detained and are on hunger strike, allege that their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and their rights not to be tortured, suffer inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment were all breached by employees of Serco. The breach occurred when around 70 women gathered peacefully to present a petition against the conditions and treatment at the centre to representatives of the UK Borders Agency. The Times & Citizen reported on February 11 that detainees were locked in a corridor by Serco employees for about eight hours with little ventilation and without the use of lavatories and medical treatment. Frances Swaine, partner and head of the human rights department at the law firm said: "My clients have told me that the corridor soon became highly unpleasant and unsanitary. "Women with existing medical conditions including HIV, asthma and sickle cell anaemia were being denied their medication and treatment leading to a severe deterioration in their health. "Other women became unwell, some hyperventilated and others collapsed." She added: "Some women called for an ambulance on their mobile phones, but later found out they were denied entry to the detention centre. "This is one very serious incident, but having read their petition and talked to the women I was appalled to discover the general poor treatment and conditions they are expected to live in on a daily basis." Leigh Day & Co is now seeking a declaration to the effect that the detainees rights were violated, and appropriate damages from Serco and the Home Office. A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "The well-being of detainees is of paramount concern to the UK Border Agency, which is why all detainees were monitored by healthcare staff - as well as members of the Independent Monitoring Board – throughout the protest."

January 9, 2010 Echo News
A FORMER airport worker has been jailed for a year for his part in a £4million jewellery heist. Tom Baisden, 28, who worked for Serco at a warehouse which stored goods coming through Southend Airport, initially pretended to have been beaten and tied up by robbers Gary Maughan and Joseph Xenofondos. But Baisden was, in fact, an inside man who planned the theft of the Cartier jewels with the two men and helped them carry it out on May 21, 2001. But Baisden was given a reduced sentence because he confessed to the robbery at Southend Airport seven years after it took place. A former drug addict, Baisden appeared in the 2007 show Jamie’s Chef, where TV chef Jamie Oliver tried to help people turn their lives around. Baisden said he was inspired to hand himself in after appearing on the show. He confessed to the crime and then co-operated with police and the Crown Prosecution Service to give evidence against his co-conspirators at a trial last autumn. In August 2008, he admitted stealing a box of bracelets worth £13,958 on April 20, 2001, and conspiring to steal between April 19, 2001, and May 22, 2001. Baisden also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, on May 22, 2001, by giving a false witness statement to police, stating he had been the victim of a robbery. At Southend Crown Court yesterday, Judge John Lodge gave Baisden a four-month sentence for the theft, 13 months for the conspiracy and eight months for perverting the course of justice to run consecutively. He will serve half in custody and half released on licence.

December 13, 2009 Telegraph
The Rev Canon James Rosenthal, dressed in a red robe with a long white beard and holding a bishop's mitre and crook, was refused entry by guards at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire. After gently protesting that he was not a threat, he started to bless the £300 worth of gifts donated by congregations of several London churches. But after an unedifying stand off, the security guards then called the police on the visitor, who was accompanied by one of Britain's most distinguished clerics. Mr Rosental, who is the Anglican church’s leading expert on St Nicholas, said he was “extremely disappointed” that 35 boys and girls at the centre were denied a pre-arranged visit by the patron saint of children and the imprisoned. "St Nick has never been turned away from anywhere before," he said. "So I was extremely disappointed not to be able to hand deliver the gifts to the children detained at Yarl's Wood. I hope the kids realise that they will be firmly in my prayers." Mr Rosental is writing a formal letter of complaint to the centre about how it handled the visit and the heavy-handed tactics employed by the guards who patrol the perimeter fence. Serco, a private security company that operates Yarl’s Wood, referred questions to the Home Office. A spokesman said that only people subject to stringent security checks can be allowed into the detention centre and there can be no exceptions. But the St Nicholas Society, of which Mr Rosental is patron, said that Serco did not respond to numerous requests before teh visit earlier this month to discuss how a handover of presents could be carried out and also refused requests to provide details about the 35 children in the centre so they could receive appropriate presents. Serco also refused permission for the two clerics to enter the centre to visit two refugee families later the same day, as it had previously agreed. They were handed letters from Dawn Elaine, contracts manager at Yarl's Mr Rosental said: "If this is how visitors are treated, I shudder to imagine what else transpires inside Yarl's Wood.” He was accompanied on the trip earlier this month by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey. He said: "This was about bringing a moment of joy to kids locked up in a deplorable situation. I can't help but contrast the smiles and wonderment on the faces of the children St Nicholas visited at a local primary school with the sad fate of those kids who will be locked up in Yarl's Wood over Christmas." The presents were eventually loaded into an unmarked van by staff who refused to provide a name, number or receipt for the gifts. Mr Rosental asked one "guard" his name and the man said "write down 'Father Christmas'".

September 4, 2009 Morning Star
Leaders of the prison officers' union have accused the government of "corruption at the highest levels" for colluding with privateers to sell off Britain's jails. Prison Officers Association (POA) general secretary Brian Caton made the damning accusation as he exposed exclusively to the Morning Star the defection to security privateer Serco of the head of a public-sector bid to run Buckley Hall jail near Rochdale. Former prison governor Steve Hall, who had been appointed by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to lead the bid, was revealed to have taken up a position with the huge multinational despite government rules insisting that civil servants must "put the obligations of public service above your own personal interests." Mr Caton declared that the government "wants to auction off the prison service and is fully aware that civil servants like Steve Hall take the information that they have gathered and defect to the private sector. "This is corruption at the highest levels," he stressed. "This is not first time this has happened and it comes despite Justice Minister Jack Straw giving us an absolute assurance that it would not happen again," Mr Caton added. The Civil Service code explicitly states that government workers "must not misuse your official position, for example by using information required in the course of your official duties to further your private interests." But Mr Caton insisted that NOMS director of human resources Robin Wilkinson had admitted that Mr Hall, who was appointed by the head of the government's public-service bids unit Colin McConnell, had done exactly that. Calling on NOMS director Phil Wheatley, Mr Wilkinson and Mr McConnell to all resign, Mr Caton said that "the POA believes that this affair represents a conspiracy to act in a corrupt manner and we will be demanding that an independent inquiry should be conducted by the police - that's how serious this is." The revelation comes just days after the POA announced that its members had voted by a crushing four to one to strike against the government's drive to sell off the Prison Service and hand jails over to private security firms such as Serco. Mr Caton pointed out that Buckley Hall prison had to be renationalised after its previous experience with privatisation proved a failure. "Of 11 private prisons in Britain, 10 are in the bottom quarter of the government's prison performance league - that's how bad they are," he asserted. "Privatisation is about driving down standards and paying prison officers less because all these companies care about is profits," Mr Caton added. "It is an insult to our members at Buckley Hall, who gave information to Steve Hall to support the bid to keep the jail in the public sector, that he has now stuffed that information into a briefcase and taken it to Serco." Mike Nolan, president of Civil Service union PCS prison service group, emphasised that such a breach of the Civil Service code was "undoubtably immoral. "This has happened a few times, but what is worse is that prison managers are actually being targeted by the private-sector companies that want to take over prisons - and Serco in particular is now riddled with them," he added. Serco and the Ministry of Justice had not responded to requests for information as the Morning Star went to press.

May 4, 2009 The Telegraph
Tom Riall admits he broke the speed limit but says he did not realise how fast he was travelling. Mr Riall was photographed doing 102mph in his 2.7 litre Volvo on a 70mph stretch of the A11 as he travelled to a business meeting. Mr Riall, 49, a former soldier, is chief executive of Serco, which oversees more than 5,000 cameras on Britain's roads. He is due to appear before magistrates in Sudbury, Suffolk, on Wednesday, where it is understood he will plead guilty to driving with excessive speed. Anyone caught doing more than 100mph faces a driving ban of up to two years and a £2,500 fine. There is also the option of taking a "speed awareness" class to reduce the length of the disqualification. Mr Riall, who earns around £150,000 a year, fully admits he broke the speed limit. "I was travelling from my home to a business meeting on a clear A-road and I was unaware of my speed. "I regret driving at this speed and will ensure I mitigate it in future. "In my job, I understand the consequences of speed and want to apologise to the court", he said outside his home in Reading, Berkshire. Road safety campaigners have reacted angrily to the confession. "We're concerned a driver doing 102mph claims to be unaware of his speed – what sort of message does this put out to other road users?", said Claire Armstrong, of the Safe Speed campaign group. "A man who makes his income from speed cameras should know better." In 2008 Serco led an anti-speeding campaign called Safe Drive Stay Alive, which was backed by the Government. Mr Riall said at the time: "In courts and prisons we see the direct consequences of reckless and dangerous driving every single day. "For far too many young people it ends with a prison sentence – but for the families left behind the pain lasts much longer. "Serco is delighted to support Safe Drive Stay Alive because we want to help bring about change for the young drivers and all those whose lives are affected." There are around 8,000 speed cameras on Britain's roads, which generate about £100 million every year in fines.

April 29, 2009 Bromley Times
A PRISON van driver ran over and killed a woman in "a moment of complete madness" after she started dancing in the street, a court heard. Andrew Curtis, 49, of The Ridge, Orpington, edged forward into Naomi Benjamin, 34, until she slipped and fell under the wheels of the vehicle on April 22 last year. He then drove over her body, twisting her head until her neck was broken and dragging her 10 metres along the road, jurors were told at his murder trial at the Old Bailey this week. Horrified witnesses surrounded the driver and beat on the sides of the van in anger after the incident in Brixton. Bystander Susan Fraser, giving evidence on Tuesday, said: "She was in front of the prison van dancing, waving [her] arms around and shouting. There was a lot of action going on. "The prison van eventually moved forwards and Naomi moved backwards. The van moved forwards again and almost touched her. She was obstructing the vehicle, she was shouting but I couldn't understand any words." She then jumped up and pulled the passenger windscreen wiper down before tumbling to the floor. Ms Fraser added: "That was when the prison van escalated. She fell under the wheel and the van continued moving up the hill and she was underneath it. I was in shock. "I remained there until she was run over and I made my way towards the van. "There was an immediate rush of people towards the van, screaming and shouting at the van to stop. "It was very nasty. Things got a bit nasty." Curtis, who had worked for Serco for six years, was transporting prisoners from a court in Westminster to Brixton prison during rush hour. He had stopped at the traffic lights outside the KFC in the middle of the three-lane carriageway heading southbound on Brixton Road. Prosecutor Simon Denison said: "She was killed suddenly and utterly needlessly by this defendant in a moment of complete madness. "She slipped and fell in front of the centre of the van. You may think he must have realised what had happened but quite incredibly he continued to drive the van forward and he went over her." The victim was still alive when the first paramedic arrived but by the time she could be moved from under the vehicle she was dead. Describing Ms Benjamin, Mr Denison said: "She was well known in the community, a local character. She was often dressed in brightly coloured clothes. She was outgoing and a loud person. Unfortunately she was often drunk." The trial continues.

April 26, 2009 The Independent
Children held in the infamous Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre are being denied urgent medical treatment, handled violently and left at risk of serious harm, a damning report by the Children's Commissioner for England will say tomorrow. Sir Al Aynsley-Green's investigation paints a shocking picture of neglect and even cruelty towards children trapped within the centre's razor-wired walls, and finds "substantial evidence that detention is harmful and damaging to children and young people". Since opening in 2001, the Bedfordshire detention centre has been plagued by hunger strikes, self-harm incidents, a suicide and riots. It was severely damaged by fire during disturbances in 2002. Despite repeated scandals – and the damning findings of this report – planning permission was given last month to double the centre's capacity from 405 places to nearly 900. Around 2,000 children a year are held in immigration centres – half in Yarl's Wood, which has been run by a private company, Serco, since 2007. The experience they described is prison in all but name. Politicians, immigration experts and doctors last night called for an end to the detention of children and for urgent measures to ensure other detainees are treated humanely. The report, based on the most recent inspection by Sir Al, reveals that basic safeguards for children in Yarl's Wood are failing. Welfare issues raising "serious concern" were ignored, with children forced to remain in custody even when they were seriously ill or in danger from parents with mental health problems, the report says. It also criticises the "scant regard to basic welfare needs" during arrest and transportation to the centre. Key meetings between social services, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Yarl's Wood staff designed to discuss the welfare implications of keeping a child locked up for more than 28 days dwelt instead on PR and legal concerns. The commissioner calls for an urgent review to "ensure the best interests of the child are central to decisions on detention". The UKBA claims that steps have now been taken to protect children since the inspection last May, but Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at The Children's Society, disputes this. "The agency has not made the improvements necessary to safeguard these children," she said. "The Secretary of State for Children must intervene immediately as this report exposes serious child protection risks which have not been adequately addressed." The commissioner found that seriously ill children were denied hospital treatment, while bureaucracy substantially delayed others with critical conditions from getting to hospital. A baby with pneumonia and a teenager with severe mental health problems were among those affected. Despite being the main detention centre for children, no one on the Yarl's Wood health team has child health qualifications, the report says. Sir Al found major healthcare shortcomings at the centre, describing safeguards, records and professionalism as inadequate and below NHS standards. He reports that two children with sickle cell disease were not allowed to bring their penicillin with them when they were seized from their homes. As a result they became seriously ill and required urgent treatment. Instead of being referred to hospital for intravenous fluids and antibiotics they were simply given paracetamol. Under the NHS this would be categorised as a life-threatening "Serious Untoward Incident". Children suffering from serious medical conditions and the mentally ill were routinely kept in detention despite guidelines stating clearly they should not be. One diabetic child had three emergency treatments in the 24 days she was detained – including two occasions where her blood sugar left her "un-rousable" – but was still not released. An eight-month-old baby with asthma was neither released nor given an inhaler. Immunisations were denied to children documented as needing them, creating a health risk. One child was even given the wrong vaccine, while the centre's policy for preventing malaria was described as containing "serious errors" and being "unacceptably poor". Doctors working for Medical Justice, an organisation that provides voluntary medical assistance for Yarl's Wood families, insist there is wider evidence of medical abuse beyond the commissioner's report. They say they have documented evidence of a child under 12 being given his mother's anti-depressant drugs on removal; of a young person in severe pain with sickle cell disease being denied painkillers because he was unable to walk to the clinic to receive them in person; and of children contracting severe malaria on being returned to their home country because they were refused suitable preventative medicine. Paediatrician Dr Fred Martineau said: "The detention of children, whether newborn babies or adolescents, almost invariably causes them physical or emotional suffering. Doctors from Medical Justice regularly see the effects of this, ranging from a failure to give immunisations against potentially fatal diseases, through to clinical depression ...The only way of preventing this harm is to end their detention." Healthcare at Yarl's Wood has long been a problem, with outbreaks of vomiting bugs and chickenpox common. The centre was last night understood to be in the middle of yet another chickenpox quarantine. The report describes the ordeal of "dawn raids" – where up to 20 officers arrive to seize families in the early hours of the morning. Children repeatedly reported being treated with violence, including being dragged on the floor and thrown to the ground. Young people told how traumatised they were by the experience, noting that officers seemed to be laughing at them and "taking pleasure in the family's distress". The study said: "In a large majority of cases, children reported that officers' behaviour had been aggressive, rude and, on a few occasions, violent." Children were even watched by officers of the opposite sex while they dressed, which the report called "an unacceptable safeguarding risk which must be addressed immediately". They also had to watch parents being handcuffed and heavily restrained – a direct flouting of UKBA guidelines. One mother, so distressed at being handcuffed in front of her family and thrown into a caged van, tried to hang herself with her son's shoelaces. Caged prison vans are routinely used to transport children to the centre near Bedford, despite promises that people carriers would be used for families. Children were denied toilet breaks or food and drink. The vans, the report says, are "stained with urine and vomit". The commissioner also expressed concern at the increase in the length of time for which children are being held, which threatens their mental well-being. Last week, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, told MPs: "Detention is a final option and is only used for the shortest period necessary." But the Children's Commissioner says: "The average length of time children and young people are being detained is increasing, and, crucially, the decision to detain them is neither being used as a last resort nor for the shortest period of time as required by Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child." In conclusion, Sir Al calls for an end to the detention of children. "Each year in the UK, we detain around 2,000 children for administrative purposes. This has to end," he said. His call was echoed by the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who said: "The incarceration of thousands of children accused of no crime, often for months on end, is inhumane. The treatment of these vulnerable children in Yarl's Wood is a shameful indictment of the Government's failed immigration policy." The Border and Immigration minister Phil Woolas said: "If people refuse to go home then detention becomes a necessity. We don't want to split up families, so we hold children with their parents, and while they are in our care we treat them with sensitivity and compassion." Taken away: 'They came for us at night' -- Dominic Mwafulirwa trembles at the words "Yarl's Wood". The eight-year-old was asleep when six guards wrenched him and his mother, Cecilia, 35, from their Swansea home in the early hours three months ago. They had arrived in the UK from Malawi when Dominic was a year old. Cecilia, who had run away from an abusive husband, started a new life in Wales, where Dominic excelled at school. That life ended abruptly when the men arrived. "Dominic didn't say a word from the time they came until we were locked up," Cecilia says. "It was hard to keep his spirits up. When I asked him why he wasn't going to the school at Yarl's Wood, he said: 'What's the point? We're not learning anything.' He refused to wash and started smashing things. He's still really angry and confused. "We spent 50 days in that place. I lost 20kg. I'm a sickle cell patient and by the end of the 50 days my haemoglobin was too low. I'm really anaemic and they knew I had depression. They changed my medication and they threatened to take my son away." Cecilia and Dominic have been out of Yarl's Wood since the end of March. They have yet to find out whether they will be allowed to stay in the UK.

March 27, 2009 The Australian
THE research director of a British-based group that is expected to bid for contracts to operate two jails in NSW has backed privatised facilities in which inmates have keys to their cells and are on a first-name basis with their jailers. Gary Sturgess, research director of the Serco Group, will tell a NSW parliamentary inquiry today that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatise jails. He says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges -- including being given the keys to their own cells -- in correctional systems where private and public providers compete. Prisoners in these systems spend more time out of their cells and have far greater interaction with their jailers -- with whom they are frequently on first-name terms -- than in systems where public providers face no competition, Mr Sturgess says. The results are safer jails and lower rates of reoffending. Serco is expected to bid for the contracts to operate Cessnock prison, in the Hunter Valley, and Parklea prison, in western Sydney, when the jails are privatised this year. The company already operates one jail in Victoria and one in Western Australia. The decision by NSW Premier Nathan Rees to privatise the two prisons has aroused heated opposition from public sector unions and the Greens, and is opposed by a minority of MPs in the Labor caucus. The privatisation of the jails is being driven by Prisons Minister John Robertson, who led the campaign against power privatisation as a union leader. Mr Sturgess's submission to the upper house inquiry links private jail services in Britain to the "decency agenda" pursued by former British prime minister Tony Blair. "Contract prisons in the UK are more humane, partly because government demanded a higher standard when writing the original contracts, partly because price was not allowed to dominate the procurement process, and partly because the political and policy environment at the time when the market was first established was focused on the quality of prison life," the submission from Serco argues. As NSW cabinet chief under former Liberal premier Nick Greiner between 1988 and 1992, Mr Sturgess drove a reform agenda that included the corporatisation of government enterprises such as the railways and electricity transmission. He told The Australian yesterday the British experience showed governments could use competition in prison services as a way to set higher standards, not just to get better value for money. "It gives a government an opportunity to say, 'What kind of prisons do we want here?'," Mr Sturgess said. He said the inmates in low- and medium-security prisons in Britain had been allowed to hold duplicate keys to their own cells, which improved both efficiency and decency. "If (the warder) is the only one with a key, then every time a prisoner wants to go in and out of their cell you've got to send somebody to look at it," he said. "This way, the inmate has the dignity of having private space and a greater sense of security." The higher proportion of women officers in private jails had changed the atmosphere. "The difference is that if you've got a prison full of males, with all the testosterone pumping around, people will attempt to man up," he said. "You're not going to get any credit for assaulting a woman." While such arguments will confound critics of prison privatisation on the Left, Mr Sturgess, as a stalwart of NSW politics, knows another obstacle will be the tough-on-crime stand of the major parties. "The objective has got to be to reduce the cycle of reoffending," Mr Sturgess said. "If the consequence of failing to address quality issues is that we do not break the cycle of reoffending, we're actually increasing the crime problem."

March 6, 2009 The Examiner
THE father of a Government MP who accepted a $2000 donation from a private prison operator is a lobbyist for another company bidding to run two more NSW jails listed for privatisation. Leo McLeay, whose son Paul also chaired a committee that reviewed private prison contracts, appears on the NSW Premier's Department lobbyist register as a consultant for Enhance Corporate. Enhance lists Serco as a client. Serco, a multinational that runs a jail in Western Australia, has lodged an expression of interest with the NSW Government to run Parklea and Cessnock jails. But both Leo McLeay, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Serco say Enhance Corporate is not involved in lobbying for the jails contract. A spokeswoman for Serco, Emma Needham, said the company had engaged another lobbying firm, Government Relations Australia, for the contract. "We are not using Enhance on this project," Ms Needham told the Herald. "Our most recent relationship with them was earlier this year. They were advising us on transport issues. That work concluded earlier this week." Mr McLeay confirmed he had worked with Serco but "on a small scoping study". He said: "It is completely unrelated to prisons." According to a list posted by the NSW Department of Commerce, four other companies have also tendered for the contract. They are GSL Australia, Management and Training Corporation, the London-based Sodexo and GEO Group Australia, which donated $45,000 to the Labor Party before the state election in 2007 and which Paul McLeay said had paid for a table at one of his fund-raising dinners. Leo McLeay's firm lists several blue-chip corporations and organisations as clients in NSW, including Cisco Systems, Lend Lease, United Group, the Australian Rugby League and the Law Society. The executive director of the group is the former Queensland deputy premier, Jim Elder, who quit politics in late 2000 after being caught up in an electoral fraud scandal. An associate director is Chris Ellison, the former justice minister for the Howard government. Meanwhile, NSW prison officers will begin overtime bans at Long Bay jail this morning, with staff at Parklea, Grafton and other prisons expected to impose similar bans over the weekend. The officers are angry about comments made last week by Ron Woodham, the Corrective Services Commissioner, to an upper house inquiry into the proposed privatisation of Cessnock and Parklea jails, in which he accused them of the "manipulation" of overtime rosters. "Commissioner Woodham has repeatedly claimed that prison officers are chasing overtime, when the reality is the prisons rely on overtime because of low staff levels," said the chairman of the Prison Officers Vocational Branch, Matt Bindley.

Southern Queensland Correctional Centre, Spring Creek, Queensland, Australia

May 22, 2013 abc.net.au

A union says administration staff performed prison guard duties during strike action at a southern Queensland jail. Some employees at the privately-owned Southern Queensland Correctional Centre walked off the job at the weekend over wages and conditions - they are threatening further action. The jail's owners Serco say some staff not rostered on offered to work during the strike and normal staff levels were maintained. However, Michael Clifford from the United Voice union says the strike did affect the prison's operation. "Nearly all the people covered by this enterprise agreement, the cooks and the dogs and custodial officers, we know that nearly all of those people were on strike," he said. "They have tried to get administrative staff to fill the custodial positions. "They're struggling to make sure they keep the place running. To say it had no impact is completely untrue." Serco says custodial duties were only carried out by "appropriately qualified members of staff with at least a Certificate III in Correctional Practice". "We are committed to running a safe and secure establishment at all times. We operate one of the safest prisons in the state," it said in a statement. Mr Clifford says the union has given notice of more industrial action this weekend but he says further talks with Serco may resolve the matter. "There's always hope that we can avoid the industrial action - it's always a last resort and our members don't take industrial action easily," he said. "They are very angry about the position that the company has adopted in negotiations."Serco says it will continue negotiating with the union.

 

May 24, 2013  au.news.yahoo.com

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has slammed the security firm managing a remote far north Queensland detention centre after six Vietnamese men faced court charged with escaping. Seven men climbed over a fence on Thursday at the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre, about 30km east of the Cape York township of Weipa. Mr O'Connor announced on Friday that his department would hold an independent review of the incident. He's asked Serco, the firm that runs the centre, to explain how the men were able to escape and what was being done to stop more breakouts. "Any escape from an immigration detention facility is unacceptable," he said. A Serco spokesman says they are taking the incident seriously and the firm is committed to providing a safe and secure centre. Six of the escapees managed to board a plane at Weipa airport and fly to Cairns, 770km away. Qantas says its staff followed correct procedures when the passengers were checked in at Weipa Airport, where all passengers are screened. "QantasLink staff became aware of some irregular activity with some passengers at Weipa Airport yesterday and contacted the police," a spokeswoman told AAP. She said the matter was now being by the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration. The group, aged 23 to 32, were nabbed by police at a popular backpackers in central Cairns later that day. They appeared in Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday, where their case was adjourned until Monday so they could seek legal advice. Magistrate Anthony Gett said any bail application would unlikely to be granted as the men had been housed at a detention centre. Through an interpreter one of the men asked Mr Gett: "Is there anyway we can get out of here?" The AFP said a seventh man who escaped had not been charged but investigations were continuing. Three other Vietnamese men, aged 24, 22, and 19 and who all hold student visas, are being held in Weipa charged with helping the men escape. Their case was heard in Cairns court on video link. They will reappear on June 3 and will likely be moved to Cairns next month. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said an "organised gang" was involved in helping the men break out of the facility.

"(The detention network) shouldn't be vulnerable to organised gangs, effectively, to go and break people out and put them on aeroplanes," he said. "This has been a sophisticated breakout." Mr Morrison called for a full investigation.

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the men may have fled because immigration processing at the centre had stalled. "There is a complete lack of processing and in some instances the Vietnamese are not able to make an application for asylum," he told AAP. He said some Vietnamese had been forced to flee their home country as they had been mistreated because of their involvement in the underground Catholic Church. Weipa Mayor Peter McCulkin said the incident was "isolated" and not a good reflection of the centre. He said it was the first time anyone had escaped since the centre, which can house up to 600 people, opened in 2010.

May 17, 2013 www.brisbanetimes.com.au

More than 100 staff from a southeast Queensland high security prison are set to walk off the job for 48 hours. The Southern Queensland Correctional Centre in Gatton, west of Brisbane, is full with 330 prisoners. Private operator, Serco, is offering its staff a 2.2 per cent wage increase, which is below the 2.3 per cent being offered to Queensland's public servants. Uniting Voice union organiser Michael Clifford said rolling 12-hour stoppages would start on Sunday morning and continue until Monday afternoon. "We will then see whether further action is required later in the week," he said. He said the staff were disappointed by the pay offer after previously receiving a letter from the company's chief executive, Mark Irwin, which praised their work. "Since joining Serco in January I have been incredibly impressed by the staff I have met and your commitment to making a positive difference," Mr Irwin wrote. "So as we come together this week to celebrate our achievements from the past 25 years, I want to take a moment to thank you for your contribution, and to extend that gratitude to partners and families who support you in what you do." Mr Clifford said staff believed Serco's wage offer did not keep up with the cost of living. "CPI nationally is running at 2.5 per cent, so it doesn't even keep them up with CPI," he said. "The company is offering 2.2 per cent, while the average pay increase in enterprise bargaining agreements according to the federal government is 3.8 per cent," he said. Serco was contacted for comment on Friday afternoon, but had not replied by Friday evening.

August 15, 2011 9 News
Queensland's opposition has asked the auditor-general to review the state government's handling of a jail tender it has described as "dodgy". The government announced last month it would temporarily mothball Borallon prison in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, and transfer inmates to a new prison near Gatton due to be opened next year. Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed plans to convert the jail into immigration accommodation, however no final decision has yet been made. Security company Serco, which manages Borallon jail, has been awarded the contract to operate the new jail, Southern Queensland Correctional Centre at Spring Creek. The Liberal National Party (LNP) has labelled this a "dodgy deal". LNP corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the party had referred the matter to the auditor-general. The auditor-general's office has confirmed it received the LNP's request but as of Monday morning, it was yet to view the details. Mr Langbroek argues the government did not conduct a proper tendering process. "The way this secret deal between Serco, who currently run the prison at Borallon, and the state government has been handled raises many questions," he said. "Under the normal tendering for service process, the contract for service delivery at the new Gatton prison should have been advertised and put to the market to ensure the best value for money was achieved. "This matter deserves due consideration and that's why I have written to the auditor-general seeking advice on whether this deal is in fact legal and meets the state government's own rules and guidelines."

Southwark Crown Court, United Kingdom
April 13, 2012 Yellow Advertiser Today
A FORMER custody officer has been jailed for her part in a plot to smuggle drugs into Chelmsford Prison. Leanne Bakarr, 37, of Tyas Road, Victoria Dock, was sentenced to two years and 10 months at Southwark Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to supply cannabis. Her five co-conspirators received more than three-and-a-half years imprisonment between them. Bakarr, who was employed at Thames Magistrates’ Court as a Serco prisoner custody officer, handed cannabis to prisoner Dane Dacas in his cell during a court appearance on June 2 last year while he was on remand at Chelmsford Prison. Dacas, 20, of no fixed abode, secreted the drugs and returned to Chelmsford Prison, where they were recovered by officials. He was sentenced to three months on Tuesday. Stephen Anderson, 25, and Niaya Brewster, 21, who are serving prisoners at Chelmsford, had tasked family members Natalie Anderson, 29, and Joshua Owens, 21, to purchase the drugs and liaise with Bakarr, before passing them onto her, along with payment for her criminality.

Thameside Prison, London, England
Jan 15, 2017 standard.co.uk
Jailed: Court officer who smuggled drugs and alcohol into Thameside prison
Umeir Akhtar, 27, who worked for security firm Serco at Inner London Crown Court, hid cannabis, alcohol and mobile phones in two prisoner’s paperwork to be taken into HMP Thameside in May last year. He had also scrawled his phone number on the paperwork, Wood Green Crown Court heard. Two mobile phones were also found hidden in a DVD player in the prisoner’s cell. Detectives later discovered Akhtar had contacted prisoners by phone, the court was told. In October last year, police also launched a separate investigation into the Leyton resident over firearms offences. A search of his home, in Lea Bridge Road, revealed a revolver in a woman’s room. The woman, in her 20s, was charged with possession of a firearm but this charge was later dropped when Akhtar admitted he had hidden the gun in her room. He admitted smuggling banned items into a prison on October 13 last year at Southwark Crown Court. Akhtar was jailed for six years and two months at Wood Green Crown Court on Thursday. Detective Constable Robert Hinson said: "Umeir Akhtar abused his position as a Court Officer by providing three prisoners with mobile phones, a cannabis substitute and alcohol. "The jail sentence handed to Akhtar today should act as a deterrent to all court employees who may be asked to traffic prohibited articles for prisoners in their care."

May 26, 2016 opendemocracy.net
Private prison run by Serco cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan
Jury hears that HMP Thameside staff didn’t know the rules concerning hospital appointments. Bruno Dos Santos Inquest, Healthcare staff at Thameside Prison in London were unaware that a young man in their care was detained for immigration purposes, which led to him missing a hospital appointment that might have saved his life, an inquest jury heard yesterday. Bruno Dos Santos, 25, was detained at HMP Thameside for several months from September 2013 until May 2014, a court sitting in Dorchester was told yesterday. In May he was transferred to the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Dorset, where he died on 4 June. Dos Santos had a complex medical history and was taking medication for epilepsy, depression and shoulder pain. He suffered from severe epileptic fits and had dislocated both shoulders as a result of frequent seizures. In February 2014, while detained at Thameside, Dos Santos was assessed by Dr Giovanni Cocco, a consultant neurologist. Following the appointment Dr Cocco wrote to a GP working at the prison explaining that the young man’s fits were a result of trauma after being knocked down by car aged 10. After the car accident Dos Santos was in a coma for two or three days. He then spent several months in hospital re-learning how to walk, talk and carry out basic tasks. Dr Cocco recommended Dos Santos undergo an MRI, EEG and an ECG, and that his anti-epileptic medication be increased gradually. An MRI appointment was booked for 23 February. The court heard that Rida Kamsilla, a nurse working at Thameside, spoke to Dos Santos the day before his appointment on 23 February. When he told her about it, she told the wing officer that Dos Santos “is not going anywhere tomorrow”. She then passed the same message on to the senior nurse on duty asking for the appointment to be cancelled. Nurse Kamsilla told the court that she was following prison policy at the time, which was that patients should not be given dates regarding external appointments. This was for security reasons, she said. Nick Brown, the barrister representing the family, suggested that Nurse Kamsilla had been “over officious” in making this decision. “It was not your decision to make,” he said. Instead, he said, she should have passed it on to another member of staff to carry out a proper risk assessment. She replied that she was simply following the policy. Brown asked if the policy was written anywhere and nurse Kamsilla replied that it was not. Brown then questioned the nurse about Dos Santos’s immigration status.
Brown: “Were you aware that he was an immigration detainee?”
Kamsilla: “No, I was not aware.”
Brown: “Were you aware of the policy on immigration detainees at that time?”
Kamsilla: “No.”
Brown then read from the Detention Services Order 2012 which states that: “Every effort must be made to keep and fulfil medical appointments of detainees, both those arranged prior to and during detention.” The rules also state that external appointments must be considered on a case by case basis, he said. This assessment would consider factors such as the seriousness of the condition of the detainee. “Bruno would have undergone an MRI if a proper risk assessment had been made?” Brown asked Nurse Kamsilla. “Yes,” she answered. Earlier, the jury heard that Dr Esther Okumo, a locum doctor working at Thameside, had also been unaware that Dos Santos was an immigration detainee and not a prisoner at the time. Dr Okumo said she was unaware that there are policies governing the treatment of immigration detainees. Once Dos Santos’s appointment was cancelled there was no follow up to reschedule, the jury heard. Several months after the missed appointment, Dr Cocco wrote to Dr Okumo to ask why he had missed the appointment, and whether another should be booked. Dr Okumo said she was shocked to discover this and immediately rebooked it. Several times during her evidence Dr Okumo mentioned the number of prisoners held at Thameside at the time (approximately 900), and said that errors were sometimes made and missed appointments were a common occurrences. However, when Brown asked if the prison was “under staffed” and unable to offer “proper continuity of care” for prisoners as a result, she said: “I am not going to admit that. It’s not my place … I’m just telling you what goes on.” The court also heard from staff at Belmarsh prison, where Dos Santos was held as prisoner between January and May 2013. He was charged and convicted of robbery and served a sentence of one year and four months. He became an immigration detainee in September 2013 when he moved to Thameside. It was revealed that a GP at Belmarsh, Dr Ekpo said he had referred Dos Santos for an MRI scan in January 2013, several months before his move to Thameside. However, there was no record of the referral on the prison’s internal record system and no appointment was made. On 6 May 2014, the court heard that Dos Santos told staff at Thameside that he had suffered another fit during the night. A staff nurse made a note on the prison’s electronic system for managing medical records for prisoners and included a comment from Dos Santos. Brown read it aloud to the court: “The last comment that we have from Bruno is ‘stated that his medication does not work’. He was transferred to the Verne the next day.” The inquest continues. 

May 14, 2013 huffingtonpost.co.uk

Prison reform campaigners have called for urgent action at Britain's news private jail, which has been put into "lock-down" in response to the violent gang warfare behind its bars. In an inspection report, Serco-run Thameside prison in London was found to keep some prisoners in their cells 23 hours a day, with 60% locked up all day, in order for staff to cope with the violent offenders. The Howard League for Penal Reform called the report "truly alarming" and said it was an embarrassment to the government. The previous system, where prisoners were allowed out of their cells for most of the day, had seen an "unacceptable" level of delinquency, the prison said. The report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that the prison, which opened in March last year holding 900 male prisoners, had far too high a frequency of assault, and that staff could not protect prisoners from the violence. "The prison had taken the unusual step of effectively locking down the prison, severely curtailing the regime and in particular prisoner access to time unlocked. "The prison had done little to evaluate the success of this quite extreme strategy and at the time of our visit there seemed only vague plans to restore the prison to normality. "The data on assaults, security report reports and use of force that we examined did not show any improvement from previous months and we were told that some prisoners got around restrictions by planning to attend activities so that they could become involved in fights." Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said in a statement: “Conditions at Thameside are truly alarming. Violence was so common that the Serco management put the prison in a state of lockdown, and yet this extreme measure has done little to bring down the number of attacks. “Staff are inexperienced and often resort to physical force. The prisoners have no confidence in them. Despite enforcing one of the most restricted regimes ever seen by inspectors, this is a large private prison out of control. “Today’s report should embarrass the government. Less than a week after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling demanded that prisoners work harder to earn privileges, this flagship private prison is revealed to be locking up inmates for 23 hours a day because they don’t have anything constructive to do. “With a pathetic lack of activities and barely any vocational training available, Thameside is doing nothing to help prisoners turn their lives around. It is merely making matters worse. “This is what happens when you hand the justice system over to vast multinational corporations, who put cost-cutting and the interests of their shareholders ahead of concern for public safety.” The National Offender Management Service said action had been taken to address the concerns.

Villawood Detention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011

Apr 30, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Serco to blame for Kiwi death in detention - mother
The mother of a New Zealander who died in a Sydney detention centre has accused the Government of sitting on its hands and not looking after its citizens in Australian detention centres. Hera Peihopa believes her son Rob Peihopa, 42, died in a fight, and is blaming private prison operator Serco for his death. Mr Peihopa died at Villawood in early April, and initial reports suggested he died of a heart attack. He had served two years in prison for his part in a police chase and was fighting deportation at the end of his sentence, so he could stay close to family in Australia. His mother Hera told The Nation programme that she was initially told her son collapsed after a visit to the gym, but a coroner had since told her further investigation was needed. "When I saw his body three days after he died I saw evidence of a fight. He had injuries on his face, bruising and he had injuries behind his head." She suspected he had been attacked by a group, but had been told by police the detention centre's security camera system did not adequately capture the incident. "I blame Serco. They're the security company. They're responsible for our boys." However, Ms Peihopa also says the Australian Government should be more understanding of the detainees who appeal. "With the detainees I really believe that any appeals that they put forward should be considered," she says. "If they've got good family reasons why they should be here [in Australia] they should be given some consideration, not just totally overlook those long connections." Ms Peihopa says the New Zealand government has contacted her to explain the procedures she can follow and how they work, but added she does not feel supported. "I've not found them very helpful to me at all." Serco's long-term contract on Mt Eden prison in Auckland was cut short by Corrections in July last year following weeks of revelations about prison fight clubs, access to contraband and poor inmate behaviour. Ms Peihopa described her son as a "compassionate person". Australia has been criticised for tough new immigration laws that allow it to deport any non-citizen who has served a sentence of 12 months or more, or failed a character test. The rules have caught out many New Zealanders who have lived in Australia for years and no longer have roots in New Zealand.

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

November 30, 2011 The Age
THE Immigration Department was warned severe overcrowding at the detention centre on Christmas Island would cause a serious incident five months before riots broke out there. That is the finding of an independent inquiry into the Christmas Island and Villawood riots, by former public servants Allan Hawke and Helen Williams. Released yesterday, the report said the failure of the department to brief Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on the warning until March 2011 was ''highly regrettable''. The report has described conditions on Christmas Island before the riots as ''severely compromised'' - with failing sewerage systems, a ''precarious'' supply of water and access to toilets and education under stress. Detainee numbers had leapt to 2530 on the island. Knowledge Consulting warned in October 2010 that safety was compromised, accommodation was unsuitable and detainees had no meaningful activities. A freeze on processing Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum claims a year earlier caused a backlog and ''significant impact on the detention network''. The inquiry found that adding to this explosive mix was an influx of middle-class Iranian asylum seekers ''who had higher expectations of service and lower tolerance for any perceived slowness in processing or inconsistency in decision-making or failure to achieve a positive result''. Riots on Christmas Island, sparked on March 11, caused $2.5 million in damages, while riots at Villawood in Sydney a month later cost $6 million. Serco, the private company that runs the detention network, was warned of the planned mass escape and riot on Christmas Island four days earlier, but a teleconference with the Immigration Department in Canberra dismissed an informant's warning. The report blamed both riots in part on the detention network's inability to manage a core group of angry asylum seekers who had been rejected. It said 80 of the 100 detainees identified as taking part in the Christmas Island riot had received initial rejections and were waiting for a review. Thirteen of the 19 charged had been rejected as refugees at the first interview. Of the nine detainees charged over the Villawood riot, all had received a negative primary decision. The report called for the contract with Serco to be revised to improve security and co-ordination with police.

October 26, 2011 The Age
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has denied that a Sri Lankan man who died in an apparent suicide attempt at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre overnight had been cleared of being a security threat. Mr Bowen said the man was still being investigated by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation pending his release from detention and his "ongoing links with various organisations was being assessed". Mr Bowen said the Immigration Department had not yet been able to contact the man's next of kin, a brother in Sri Lanka. He confirmed the Tamil man, who was in his mid-20s, had asked to leave the centre for a religious festival, and that his request had been denied. However, he could not say if it was the department, or the detention centre's managers, Serco, who had communicated the news to him. Mr Bowen said the mans death was a tragedy and he expressed condolences for his family.

October 6, 2011 Sydney Morning Herald
NSW police have slammed security management at the Villawood detention centre, with a senior officer revealing he had warned of problems before the April riots, but he was told ''it would never happen''. A parliamentary inquiry was also told immigration staff and the private management company Serco were left without police help on the night riots turned ugly, because NSW Police said it was not their jurisdiction and the Australian Federal Police said they did not have the resources. Fire caused millions of dollars damage during 11-day riots involving around 100 detainees.  The inquiry heard of complete confusion among immigration and Serco managers as the violence broke out on April 20, and that Serco was unaware that NSW Police had no legal authority to enter the premises. The Assistant Commissioner, Frank Mennilli, told politicians Villawood was not secure, was not appropriate for difficult asylum seekers and he was concerned at Serco's role. State police had held a training scenario for Villawood staff in August 2010 where he attempted to raise the potential risk of a fire. ''I was told the scenario was unrealistic and would never happen,'' he said. On April 19, the day before the riots, at a meeting with the Immigration Department in Canberra, Mr Mennilli again raised concerns about Villawood, including his belief police didn't have legal authority to enter the detention centre and the ease with which detainees could climb on the roof. Despite this, Serco managers at Villawood said they were unaware before the night of April 20 that NSW Police would not assist. ''The levels of violence witnessed on that night … were not contemplated when we signed the contract in 2009,'' Serco's managing director, Chris Manning, said. Mr Mennilli criticised the Immigration Department for moving suspected ring leaders from the March Christmas Island riots to Villawood, where there had been three escapes from the Blaxland compound. ''I don't believe the Villawood detention facility has the capability to be secure,'' he said.

October 5, 2011 Big Pond
The private security firm at Sydney's Villawood detention centre believed NSW police would step in to control rioting detainees, an inquiry has heard. But when contacted by Serco NSW police didn't seem sure of their role and referred the matter to federal police based in Canberra, the parliamentary inquiry into Australia's immigration detention network heard. A regional manager at Serco told the inquiry in Sydney he was not aware of any 'ambiguity' about the role of NSW police in restoring order and had expected their help once the situation escalated. On the evening of April 20 this year, more than 100 detainees at Villawood began rioting and climbing onto the roof, forcing Serco staff to retreat. During the next 11 days of unrest, buildings were set alight and destroyed. Speaking at the inquiry, Serco's manager at Villawood at the time, John Hayes, said he believed Serco could 'seek the assistance of the NSW police' if things got out of hand. But when Mr Hayes spoke to the NSW police on the night of the incident, they said there were 'jurisdictional issues' about Villawood being on commonwealth land and he should contact the Australian Federal Police (AFP). 'When this all turned sour, it was still your belief that the NSW police would be able to act, and they had a completely different view?' federal opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison asked. 'We had a really good working relationship with the NSW police prior to this incident, and I anticipated this would be the same during this incident,' Mr Hayes said. 'At the time of this incident I anticipated to get the assistance from the NSW police. I wasn't aware of any ambiguity.' When he spoke to the AFP a few hours later, Mr Hayes was told they 'didn't have the resources to carry out any intervention'. Mr Morrison said it was concerning that there was no clear plan of action shared between Serco, NSW Police, the AFP and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) about what to do in such a situation. 'That's not Serco's responsibility to ensure that those things are clarified,' Mr Morrison said. 'That's a government responsibility.' Serco's managing director Chris Manning said the firm had not anticipated the levels of violence that occurred during the riots when they took on the security contract in June 2009.

September 6, 2011 9 News
Staff ignored a detainee's attempts to negotiate and used relentless intimidation moments before he jumped to his death at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, a coroner has been told. Psychiatrist Michael Diamond told Glebe Coroner's Court on Tuesday that the actions of staff had escalated the situation. Josefa Rauluni, 36, took his own life on the day he was due to be deported to his homeland. He told staff of Serco, the detention centre operator, they would have to "send his dead body back to Fiji in a box". Mr Diamond said that despite repeated threats to jump off a balcony, Mr Rauluni was met with "repetitive and confronting" statements, including that "one way or the other, you are going to the airport". "Those who were dealing with him lacked the training, expertise and ability to recognise what was playing out in front of them," said the psychiatrist, who is an expert in negotiating techniques. Mr Rauluni is one of three detainees presumed to have taken their own lives over a 10-week period, who are now the subject of a joint coronial investigation. The coroner will examine the welfare management of Mr Rauluni, 29-year-old Briton David Saunders and a 41-year-old Iraqi national Ahmad Al-Akabi. Mr Saunders and Mr Al-Akabi were each found hanging in shower cubicles on November 16 and December 8, respectively. In his report, partly based on a video recording of the incident with Mr Rauluni, Dr Diamond said the Serco officers weren't calm and their responses were ad hoc. "Different orders were communicated. There was no plan," he said. Mr Diamond said staff had recognised the seriousness of the situation because they had placed mattresses beneath the balcony, but there appeared to be "a perceived imperative to not miss the 1pm flight". "(This) added considerably to a sense of urgency that escalated the dangers inherent to the situation," he said. Dr Diamond concluded that communication between staff and Mr Raulini was rushed and involved repetitious coercion. "There was no opportunity for dialogue," he said. "The interaction was dominated by intimidation and signalling the use of force as the only capability of the Serco staff. "The conduct of the person in charge of the teams was confronting. The intimidation was relentless. "All these actions escalated the situation." Things were made worse, he said, when an officer from the Department of Immigration - who had a calming influence on Mr Raulini and had successfully engaged him - was disrupted on the orders of the Serco manager. The officer was encouraged to stop talking and was "unsupported and ignored". Not long after, Mr Raulini jumped head first from the balcony.

August 11, 2011 ABC
The report details a system unable to respond to serious threats like April's riots in Sydney's Villawood detention centre. ABC1's Lateline has been given exclusive access to a wide-ranging report delivered by Comcare, the Federal Government's workplace safety agency. It paints a picture of systemic under-training of staff and a lack of preparation to deal with the constant threat of violence, protests and self-harm. The revelations come as yet another boat carrying 100 asylum seekers arrives on Christmas Island, adding to overcrowding at the detention centre there. The Comcare report is scathing about overcrowding issues set to worsen with the new arrivals. Once inside the detention centre the latest arrivals face a system that places them and their guards in danger, according to the Comcare report. The report identifies five major failures by the Department of Immigration across the detention centre network: •There is no risk management process, despite the highly volatile environment. •There is no plan to alter staffing levels to deal with dramatic fluctuations in detainee numbers. •Staff are not trained to the point where they are confident and competent in their jobs. •There is no effective written plan to deal with critical incidents like riots and suicide attempts. •And no steps are taken to manage detainees' religious and cultural needs, detainees are roomed together even when there's a history of extreme violence between their ethnic groups in their homes countries. The Federal Opposition obtained the report under freedom of information. "There are system-wide failures in the detention network and I think that's what this report bares out, and I think it totally justifies the Coalition's call for a parliamentary inquiry into the detention network," Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said. The report details a system unable to respond to serious threats to life and limb like April's riots in Sydney's Villawood detention centre. "There were clear indicators (that Villawood staff advise were present at the time) that the riots were reasonably foreseeable. Despite the apparent clear indications, no critical incident plans were in place for staff to follow, should such a situation occur," the report said. The report backs up claims made by guards at detention centres that proper training is not provided. "Basically, from what I've seen, the new recruits were just basically put on the floor, no training whatsoever, they were being told that they would be trained as they were," a Serco guard said. Serco is the company which runs the detention network on behalf of the Immigration Department. The lack of training has led to serious ramifications identified in the Comcare report, which details how Serco staff are thrown into situations of extreme risk with little idea of how to respond. "Serco staff provided information about the level of serious assaults on staff, witnessing the deaths of detainees and the distress of having to deal with it. Staff also advised of feeling inadequately trained and the lack of instruction and supervision/support during times of critical incidents," the report said. 'Damning report' Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the report is damning. "They don't have access it seems in this report [to] a clear plan for dealing with self-harm and suicide, the report is very damning of a lack of management and management plans for incidents, and so they are left to their own devices," she said. "This report is quite damning [in] that there is a culture of non-disclosure, a culture of secrecy, total lack of transparency and what we see is we don't know how many cases of self-harm there are, how many incidents that have had to be escalated to different levels." But Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan says Comcare has "ignored and made errors" in terms of the training the department is doing "around cultural awareness, training around detention operations and training of case managers". Lateline recently obtained a log of incidents in the Christmas Island detention centre detailing up to 12 incidents of self-harm or attempted suicide per day. The Comcare report suggests the number could be higher, as could other dangerous events: "... there is (a) level of under-reporting of notifiable incidents in accordance with s68 of the OHS Act." Mr Logan rejects the suggestion that there is under-reporting of incidents in the immigration detention network. "What in fact there have been at times is where there have been serious incidents that have occurred is we have had to wait for the full medical report, the legal report, any police investigation into that incident before it's been brought to Comcare's attention," Mr Logan said. Comcare told Lateline it has identified a number of potential breaches by the Immigration Department of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It says the department has got until Monday week to respond, or face the possibility of a $250,000 fine. The report also details attempts by the Immigration Department to hamper investigations into its safety performance. Mr Logan rejects any suggestion there was a lack of cooperation by the department. "We would reject any suggestion that we did not cooperate with Comcare. I think there may have been some miscommunication on a couple of occasions," Mr Logan said. A parliamentary inquiry will look into the immigration detention centre network next Tuesday.

June 28, 2011 ABC
A witness has told an inquest into the suicide of a detainee at Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre that security staff had no training in dealing with detainees who were suicidal. Josefa Rauluni threw himself off a balcony at the centre in September last year, on the day he was due to be deported to Fiji. On the second day of the inquest state coroner Mary Jerram has heard staff employed by the centre's private operator, SERCO, knew Mr Raulini was distressed about his deportation. Duc Tran, a client services manager, said he overheard a conversation between staff over a security radio. He told the inquest he heard staff being instructed to keep an eye on Mr Raulini. Mr Tran said he thought Mr Raulini would cause a fuss to try to avoid his flight to Fiji. But the manager said he did not think the detainee would kill himself. Mr Tran also told the inquest he had not had any training to deal with detainees trying to escape or harm themselves.

June 27, 2011 AAP
A Fijian man due to be deported from a Sydney immigration detention centre told the department of immigration "send my dead body" the night before he jumped to his death, an inquest has heard. .Josefa Rauluni, 36, was due to be deported on September 20, 2010, when he jumped from a first-floor balcony railing at the Villawood Detention Centre that morning, Glebe Coroner's Court heard on Monday. Evidence would show that the night before he died, Mr Rauluni sent two faxes to the Ministerial Intervention Unit at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) saying, "If you want to send me to Fiji, then send my dead body", Naomi Sharp, counsel assisting NSW Deputy State Coroner Mary Jerram said in an opening statement. The inquest into Mr Rauluni's death is the first of three that will be held into the suicides of detainees who died at Villawood in a two-and-a-half month period late last year. "The fact that it appears that these type of deaths occurred at Villawood in two-and-a-half months gives rise to the question of whether there are systemic issues to be looked at," Ms Sharp said. Evidence would also show Mr Rauluni died from massive head injuries after he jumped headfirst onto the ground on the morning he was due to be deported, Ms Sharp said. Ms Sharp said the court would hear Mr Rauluni had previously expressed fear he would be jailed if deported to Fiji. On the morning he was due to be removed, Mr Rauluni refused to leave before climbing on to the balcony railing outside his dormitory and threatening to jump. The inquest was shown video footage of the moments leading up to Mr Rauluni's death. Mr Rauluni's brother and other relatives present at the inquest left court as the video was played after Magistrate Jerram warned the footage was disturbing. The court heard Mr Rauluni arrived in Australia on a tourist visa in November 2008 and took up residence in Griffith, NSW. After his visa expired, Mr Rauluni applied for a protection visa, which was refused by DIAC in August 2009. A subsequent appeal to the Refugee Review Tribunal and a request for ministerial intervention were refused and Mr Rauluni became an unlawful non-citizen in July 2010. He was arrested on August 17, 2010, before being detained at Villawood. Medical assessments showed Mr Rauluni had no suicidal tendencies or history of self-harm on his arrival at Villawood, the inquest heard. While in detention, he made further appeals for a review of the decision to deny him a protection visa, including two more requests for intervention from the minister. However, he was informed on September 17 that he would be deported back to Fiji the following Monday, September 20. Evidence would show Mr Rauluni was "shocked" when he was told the news, and "walked out of the interview room crying", Ms Sharp said. Ms Sharp said several issues may arise throughout the inquest, including the role of DIAC, Serco, the company contracted with running Villawood, and International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), the company that provides health services to the detention centre.

June 3, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
A SAFETY order was issued to the federal government less than three weeks before riots broke out at the Villawood detention centre, warning that sections of the facility posed a serious safety and security risk. The Improvement Notice issued by Comcare, and tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, also warned the detention centre at the time could not cope with transfers of potentially violent asylum seekers from Christmas Island. It said Villawood had a "lower level" of health and safety and security. It also discovered broken and missing security cameras and found Serco staff did not have proper training to deal with asylum seekers. "There are likely to be significant risk to health and safety associated with the relocation of the Christmas Island detainees to the Villawood IDF," the April 1 report warned. The release of the report came as parliament yesterday voted to begin a joint inquiry into mandatory detention and the Villawood and Christmas Island riots. The Comcare document raised concerns specifically about the transfer of 10 asylum seekers involved in Christmas Island riots to Villawood. But the government claimed that none of the detainees involved in the Christmas Island riots was involved in the riot at Villawood. Those transferred to Villawood were under lock and key at the western Sydney facility's high security Blaxland compound when the riot broke out in a neighbouring compound. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's spokesman last night confirmed the Minister was aware of the issues raised by Comcare at the time. "The government only approved the transfer of the clients from Christmas Island after evidence was provided to Comcare that appropriate risk management measures were in place," he said. "These were in place by the allotted deadline, before the transfer occurred and well before the incidents at Villawood." Comcare had ordered the department to take action within three days to begin training staff and to repair the security and the safety breaches. Comcare deputy CEO Steve Kibble this week said that a follow-up investigation on May 24 found it was "generally" satisfied with the Immigration Department's response to fixing the problems. But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that the report should have been a "flashing light" for the government. "(The government) were warned not to proceed but they went ahead anyway," Mr Morrison said. "What disturbs me about this is that a department was forced to cut corners as pressure continued to mount from the government's failed border protection policies. It also shows the significant pressure the network was already under prior to the riots."

May 25, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department says riots at the Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres are estimated to have caused about $9 million in damage. A number of buildings were destroyed during violent protests at both centres earlier this year. Department spokeswoman Fiona Lynch-Magor told a Senate hearing the company that runs the centres, Serco, will make an insurance claim for the damage. "We've made some early assessments of what we think those costs will be with our insurer," she said. "But Serco will be pursuing the insurance with their own insurer." The Immigration Department also says there were not enough federal police on Christmas Island to arrest asylum seekers who escaped from the detention centre during protests earlier this year. A large group of asylum seekers broke through the detention centre fence during the riots and the Senate hearing heard they were offered a lift back to the detention centre. Department spokeswoman Jackie Wilson says it was not possible to arrest the group. "The numbers of police on the island and the need to secure the airport as a priority did not enable us to have sufficient AFP on the island to do that," she said. "We were trying to do it in a peaceful way which required working with the clients rather than using AFP, which were being used for another purpose at the time." The Opposition says the lack of federal police left the island in a vulnerable position. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says it backs his argument for a parliamentary inquiry into the detention network. "[It's] very concerning that there were not sufficient police on the island when things broke out," he said. "What makes [this] worse is the department confirmed that the number and type of incidents were escalating and getting more serious, which was a clear indication that things were ... [the] temperature was rising and things were getting out of hand." The Government has already established a number of inquiries into the detention network.

May 25, 2011 The Age
AEROSOL cans have been banned across the immigration detention network after an attempt to build a home-made bomb at Villawood, and $9 million in damage from fires and riots. Meanwhile, Immigration Department head Andrew Metcalfe has accused UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay of being ill-informed about Australia's refugee swap deal with Malaysia. Ms Pillay, who will meet Prime Minister Julia Gillard today, has challenged the deal's legality. Mr Metcalfe told a Senate hearing yesterday he was "confident in the legal position we have".  Immigration Minister Chris Bowen met Ms Pillay yesterday, and told a caucus meeting she had "warmed" to his response. The committee has grilled immigration officials on the department's handling of a string of riots and fires in the detention network this year. Mr Bowen was embarrassed when he learnt of a home-made bomb in a radio interview. The committee was told detention centre operator Serco had informed the department of the "can of fly spray and a bottle of baby oil", discovered after a fire on March 19, and police were called, but the department failed to inform senior officials. Immigration secretary Andrew Metcalfe said this was "the wrong call", and he had apologised to Mr Bowen. An embarrassing 11-day standoff with three rooftop protesters at Villawood was resolved after Immigration deputy secretary John Moorhouse stood on a box and talked through a manhole to detainees hiding in a roof cavity. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the official's action was a "humiliation" and "sad farce". But Mr Metcalfe said Mr Moorhouse's unusual move avoided the use of force by police and deserved commendation.

May 20, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
A CRITICAL incident is being reported every two days in Villawood detention centre in what insiders claim is a system out of control. Documents revealed to federal parliament show the number of incidents across the entire detention network in the nine months to February totalled more than 3400. Of those, 850 were deemed critical incidents. According to protocols adopted by the company contracted to run the centres, Serco, critical incidents include assaults, bomb threats, chemical and biological threats, death, sexual assaults, riots, escape, hunger strikes, damage to facilities or protests. In Villawood alone, more than 140 critical incidents were reported over the period, averaging one every two days. A Serco insider said the figures were misleading because officers had to disclose everything that happened in the centres. The source, however, said crowded conditions at Villawood was causing unrest: "Are things out of control? They have been out of control for five years," the insider added.

April 25, 2011 The Age
DETENTION centres on both sides of the country were in turmoil last night, with three detainees maintaining a roof-top protest at Sydney's Villawood facility and hunger strikes under way at the Curtin Centre in Western Australia. The Sydney protesters - now in their sixth day on the roof at Villawood - claimed they are prepared to die unless their demands for asylum in Australia are met. One of the men, Majid Parhizkar, a 24-year-old Iranian, said the three were ''sick, hungry, cold, wet and dizzy'', having had nothing but water since last Wednesday. He said he would not come down until the Department of Immigration granted him a bridging visa that would allow him to stay in Australia with his mother, sister and brother. It was his second visa application rejection, 10 days ago, that prompted him to protest. The other two men - stateless Kurds Mehdi and Amir - want a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A protest by refugee advocates has been planned for outside the gates of Villawood today. The unrest spread to Western Australia's Curtin Air Base detention centre over the weekend, and 16 refugee activists were arrested late yesterday afternoon while blocking the access road to the centre. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, said a hunger strike and sit-in involving about 300 detainees was expected to escalate.

April 22, 2011 BBC
Australian police are questioning 22 people after a riot at an immigration detention centre in Sydney. About 100 people were involved in the riot, during which nine buildings at Villawood detention centre were torched. Officials said that the situation was now calm but a number of detainees remained on the roof. The government said the rioting was started by asylum-seekers who had had their visa applications rejected. Immigration officials said that 22 people had been moved from the facility to a prison as part of a criminal probe into the riot, which began on Wednesday night. "This sort of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable," Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan said. "They will certainly feel the full force of the law." Villawood detention centre holds both irregular maritime arrivals - people arriving in Australia by boat to seek asylum - and people already on the Australian mainland who have violated their visas or had them cancelled. The riot there was the latest in a series of protests and suicides at Australian immigration detention facilities. In recent months the number of irregular maritime arrivals has increased, leading to overcrowding. Critics say the detainees - mainly from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq - are held in poor conditions and are unhappy with the length of time taken to process their applications. In February riot police were drafted in when detainees at Australia's offshore detention centre on Christmas Island rioted. The Australian government has recently announced the provision of more than 1,900 new beds for asylum seekers to ease crowding in detention centres.

April 20, 2011 The Australian
TWO asylum-seekers in Sydney's Villawood detention centre are on the roof of the facility staging a protest over the rejection of their visa applications. The 24- and 22-year-old detainees, an Iraqi and Iranian, and are understood to have been in immigration detention for the past 15 months. An Immigration Department spokesman said the department was working to end the standoff, with paramedics on site "as a precaution''. "The detention services provider (Serco) is engaging with the men and encouraging them end this action and come down immediately,'' the spokesman said. "Actions such as this will have no bearing on the outcome of a person's processing or the handling of their case.'' Another detainee inside the western Sydney facility said the pair climbed onto the rooftop about 5am this morning demanding reviews of their applications and more information on their rejections. The detainee told The Australian Online the men, who'd been twice rejected as refugees, were also on hunger strike and "very depressed''. He feared they would jump if their demands for more information on why they have been rejected and another review of the applications were not met. Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said there was no doubt more of these incidents would occur within immigration facilities in coming months. "There is immense anxiety and uncertainly within the detainee population and the department is simply not giving these poor people enough information,'' Mr Rintoul said. "I think we can pretty much guarantee more protests and self harms.''

March 2, 2011 ABC
The company in charge of Australia's detention facilities has been fined for a series of escapes by detainees. The Immigration Department claims Serco has breached the contract conditions to run the detention centres, with almost 50 detainees escaping since June 2009 and 35 still on the run. The fines are reported to exceed $4 million, but the Government has refused to comment. Yesterday Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison said an escape from Sydney's Villawood detention centre was a sign of a system in crisis. On Tuesday morning a Fijian national being held at the facility after his visa had been cancelled managed to escape. Six other men also attempted to flee the centre but were stopped by staff. The department ordered an investigation into the escape.

March 1, 2011 Sydney Morning Herald
A detainee at Villawood escaped from the detention centre this morning, the Department of Immigration says. The man, a Fijian national, broke out from the centre run by security providers Serco about 4am, a department spokesman said. Six other men were prevented from leaving by security guards, he said.  “None of those involved were irregular maritime arrivals,” the spokesman said. Crying out for change -- The men had either overstayed their visas or had them cancelled for breaching visa conditions, he said. The spokesman did not provide details of the nature of the escape, but said that his department were calling for a “full investigation and report” into how it occurred and what security arrangements were in place.

December 9, 2010 The Age
A BRITISH man has become the third detainee to die in four months at Sydney's Villawood detention centre, prompting calls for a national inquiry into the facility. The 29-year-old man had been detained at Villawood since the middle of last month for breaching his visa conditions, and refugee advocates said he took his own life. He was found not breathing in his maximum-security compound about 3.20am yesterday, a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said. The man could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul said the man was believed to have taken his own life in the stage one area of the centre. ''This is the third death in three months at Villawood,'' he said. ''What on earth is someone being held for alleged violation of their student visa doing in the toxic environment of stage one?'' The man, who was understood to be wanted in Britain on serious criminal charges, was due to be deported. Mr Rintoul said he received a text message from another detainee saying the man took his life in a bathroom, although the Immigration Department refused to speculate, and said the death was a matter for coronial investigation. Deaths in custody have plagued the facility since September, with two apparent suicides sparking protests and hunger strikes.

November 30, 2010 ABC
The Immigration Department has confirmed there was a fight at the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney last night, at around the same time as a man escaped. Police were called to the centre around 9:00pm, after a roll call showed the 33-year-old was missing. A search of the area involving dog squad officers failed to find the escapee, who is from Belgium. The department's Sandi Logan says an investigation is underway. We're awaiting a full report from the detention services provider, SERCO, into the circumstances around the escape," he said. "We understand that there may have been a disturbance, at some time, near the time of the escape, whether that was associated with it or not, it's too early to speculate." Jamal Daoud from the Social Justice Network says he was told by other detainees the man ran off in front of security. "During the fight, he broke a window and he ran away. The people saw him physically run away," he said. "The security could not stop him running away, because they were outnumbered by people who were fighting. So they could not stop him." Mr Daoud says he was told that those fighting had been drinking alcohol.

November 18, 2010 Sidney Morning Herald
Seven immigration detainees involved in protests at the Villawood Detention Centre this week have been separated from the main population, the Immigration Department says. As well, the company Serco, which manages the Sydney centre, has been told to explain two recent deaths at the centre and the protests which followed them. Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan said Villawood was now calm, with order restored following protests and disturbances sparked by the suicide this week of Ahmad Al Akabi, a 41-year-old Iraqi whose asylum application had been rejected twice. Mr Al Akabi's death followed that of Josefa Rauluni, a 36-year-old Fijian detainee, at Villawood in September. "We have seven members of the group who were protesting or being non-compliant at the centre yesterday now separated from the main detention population," Mr Logan told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. "Our first priority is the safety of the centre, its detainees and the staff who work there. We will review the placement of the seven, whom we have removed from the general detainee population today."

November 17, 2010 Sidney Morning Herald
AN IRAQI asylum seeker who hanged himself at Villawood detention centre early yesterday ''begged'' the department of immigration to send him home. Ahmad al-Akabi, a 41-year-old father of three young daughters, had been held for more than a year, having been processed on Christmas Island after arriving in Australian waters by boat. His death comes just two months after a Fijian detainee, Josefa Rauluni, 36, committed suicide at Villawood. Mr Akabi is understood to have suffered severe depression in recent months and demanded to be returned to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where he had worked as a primary school teacher. A fellow Iraqi asylum seeker at Villawood who knew Mr Akabi told the Herald: ''He had become very upset and depressed and he told authorities, 'If you will not give me a protection visa then please let me go home now.'''

September 28, 2010 Fairfield City Champion
REFUGEE advocates say the company contracted to run Villawood Detention Centre broke a promise to Tamil detainees a day after the detainees agreed to end a rooftop protest. The detainees climbed onto the roof of the centre's stage three building last Monday after a Fijian man who had earlier been on the roof fell to his death. The detainees had stayed on top of the building until the following night, threatening to jump unless the Immigration Department agreed to refer their claims for asylum to United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR. Advocate Sara Nathan said the group had peacefully ended its protest after assurances by the contractor, Serco, that they would not be moved to high security detention. "This was a request made prior to them coming [down] and was instrumental in concluding the stand-off," she said. "A department officer present at the time also instructed the contractor not to punish any of the protesters, and that was agreed." Less than 48 hours later, the detainees were moved to stage one detention, where Ms Nathan said there was no natural light and no showers, toilets or doors on bedrooms. A Serco spokeswoman referred all questions on the running of the centre to the department. A department spokesman said it could not comment on the running of the centre, but that Serco was preparing a report into the incident. The department confirmed last week a second rooftop protest at the centre by a group of five men and four women also ended peacefully.

September 21, 2010 The Age
Eight asylum seekers ended a torturous 30-hour stand-off with Australian authorities after they climbed down from the roof of a Sydney immigration detention centre. Some of the asylum seekers had threatened to jump and kill themselves if the Immigration Department did not agree to review their refugee applications by 5pm today. Shortly before the deadline, an Iranian and an Iraqi ended their protest, descending from the roof, and a Sri Lankan followed them less than two hours later. Some of the initial group of 11 protesters had cut themselves on the arms and chest during the day, smearing blood on their bodies and a sign which read: "We need help and freedom". At times they cried, clinging to each other for support on the windy roof, and a fight broke out after one detainee who threatened to jump was forcibly restrained by the others. About a hundred onlookers, including children, watched as the man teetered at the edge. After spending a cold night on the roof, two of the men collapsed from exhaustion and dehydration as the day warmed to more than 23 degrees Celsius. Their desperate situation spread to the ground, with frustrated supporters protesting angrily outside the centre's barbed wire fence. Cars going by sounded their horns in support of the men's plight while others yelled: "Go on and jump". Several negotiators appealed to the men and large inflatable mattresses were placed at the foot of the building to cushion them should they jump or fall. A cherry-picker was also in place to bring the men down. At about 7.15pm, the eight remaining men started to leave the roof. Activists outside the centre cheered as the last asylum seeker waved and disappeared over the side of the building as he was taken down in a crane. The protest had started about 2pm yesterday after Josefa Rauluni, a 36-year-old Fijian man who was facing deportation, killed himself earlier in the day at the centre.

September 21, 2010 ABC
A group of asylum seekers protesting on top of Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre say they are prepared to stay there overnight. Tensions at Villawood have reached boiling point after a Fijian man, Josefa Rauluni, apparently threw himself off the roof of one of the buildings on Monday just hours before he was due to be deported. The Fijian was arrested in August after overstaying his visa. He had been working in Australia as a fruit picker. His cousins say that during his stay in Australia he had become associated with a pro-Fiji democracy movement and feared he would be jailed if he was returned to Fiji. Police and security guards are now in a stand-off with 11 detainees who have also taken to the roof of a building and are demanding to see an immigration officer. The group of detainees held a banner made from a bed sheet painted with the words "We need help and freedom". Sereana Naikelekele, a cousin of Mr Rauluni, said the Fijian had repeatedly warned Villawood Detention Centre officials and the Immigration Department that he would kill himself rather than be sent back to a country ruled by a military regime. "He actually said that he will kill himself if the Department of Immigration will send him back home," he said. "He said, 'They will take my dead body back home.'" Mr Rauluni's cousins also claimed officials at Villawood failed to properly supervise him after he was told that he was about to be deported, but Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan said Villawood staff followed procedures to deal with detainees threatening self-harm.

September 4, 2010 Green Left
A 21-year-old Tamil refugee has allegedly been the victim of an assault while in detention. Leela Krishna was recognised as a refugee by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in April this year, but is still held in Villawood detention centre. He was waiting for security clearance from ASIO before release. But, on August 21, he was allegedly assaulted in an isolation unit by a former professional kick boxer. The police are investigating the attack, and Serco — the private contractors who manage the centre — have placed Krishna in the “housing” component of Villawood. Australia’s current immigration policy means Krishna and hundreds of other refugees remain in Australia’s stressful — and often violent — detention centres, despite having been recognised as refugees by government agencies.

June 3, 2010 9 News
Two managers have been sacked and two others have been transferred following the escape of six people from Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. Nine people initially escaped from the complex in Sydney's southwest in the early hours of Tuesday, May 25. Three were detained by police as they escaped, but six others, all Chinese nationals, remain at large. Serco, the UK-based security company that manages the centre, undertook a "comprehensive investigation" following the escape, Serco spokeswoman Emma Needham said in a statement. "Serco has dismissed two employees today and redeployed two others following an internal investigation into last week's escapes from Villawood," she said. "In order to take the management of the centre forward and deliver the transformation required, changes to a number of positions were necessary." The company faces fines and sanctions imposed by the federal government following the escape. Immigration Minister Chris Evans has ordered an investigation into the breakout, the latest in a series of escapes from Villawood. Serco also manages security at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne's western suburbs. It came under fire after a Chinese national slipped away from two Serco security staff while on a visit to the Melbourne Aquarium in March.

May 25, 2010 ABC News
The Immigration Department says six Chinese nationals are still on the run after escaping from Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney's south-west overnight. The men were among nine people to break out of the centre about 3:30am. Three were found shortly after but police are looking for the others. A spokeswoman for the department says the missing men were not illegal immigrants but were being detained because they had broken their visa conditions. The Federal Opposition says the latest escape is proof that the system has been pushed to breaking point. Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says at the beginning of this year, there were just over 300 people living in onshore detention centres. But he says that has jumped significantly. "We had over 1,100, based on figures released by the department in the last couple of days," he said. The Immigration Department says it will likely impose fines on the company it has contracted to run its detention centres in light of the escape. Last month a report commissioned by the Federal Government warned security at Villawood was inadequate. The Department says the centre has since increased staff, but it says the company in charge, Serco, can expect to be fined if the investigation finds incompetence is to blame for the escapes.

April 13, 2010 ABC
An interim report on security at Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre has recommended the boundaries of the facility be strengthened. The report is part of an urgent review ordered by the Federal Government after a number of detainees broke out of the facility last month. It is not being made public for security and operational reasons. But the ABC has been told one of the recommendations includes putting additional staff on duty around the perimeter of the facility. The company responsible for security at the detention centre, Serco, has already moved to address this concern. But Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says it is Immigration Minister Chris Evans, not Serco, who needs to guarantee the security of Villawood.

April 9, 2010 AAP
THREE Chinese men who escaped from Villawood Immigration Detention Centre 11 days ago are still on the run. The trio scaled a fence at the western Sydney facility at about 5am (AEDT) on March 29 and have not been seen since. They escaped despite extra staff being on duty at the facility due to a recent influx of 89 failed asylum seekers from Christmas Island. An Immigration Department spokesman said that the Chinese men - two of whom were visa overstayers and one an unauthorised air arrival - have not been recaptured. None of the men pose a danger to the community, the department says. It follows the escape of four other detainees from the centre, run by UK-based security firm Serco, in late February and early March. One detainee hid beneath a truck while another fled after being allowed out to pray at a nearby church. Ten Serco workers were sacked after that fiasco and the Immigration Department said on March 29 that the company may also be forced to fire further staff pending an inquiry into the latest escapes. A Serco spokeswoman said this week a report had gone to the department and that "remedial action" had been taken.

March 30, 2010 Canterberry-Bankstown Express
The refugees fled amid the drama surrounding the 89 failed asylum seekers who were transferred to Villawood at the weekend because Christmas Island detention centre was full. A security issue has also been raised at Villawood, where four other detainees have reportedly escaped in the past month. A total of eight people have escaped this year. Private security company SERCO, which manages security at the centre, has come under fire by Senator Chris Evans for the escapes. The company is reportedly paid $370 million over five years to manage Villawood and six other detention centres. He said he would order an urgent reviwe of security arrangements at the department. SERCO reportedly sacked 10 guards after the escapes at Villawood.

Wandoo Reintegration Facility
Perth, Australia
Serco

Aug 22, 2015 watoday.com.au
An escaped prisoner remains on the run after police captured three others who fled a Perth minimum security jail last night. The four men escaped from the Serco-run Wandoo Reintegration Facility in Murdoch at 8.30pm using a prison forklift. Three of them were recaptured early this morning but 19-year-old Geoffrey Ninyette is still on the run. It is alleged the men made their way to a sporting complex on Farrington Road in Leeming, where a man was assaulted in an attempt to steal his car keys. The escapees were unsuccessful and fled on foot. At approximately 10pm police were called to a house in Leeming after reports of a break in. The owner had come home, disturbing a number of men who then fled the house on foot. Officers attended and police dog Rumble was deployed, who tracked a scent to Heatherlea Parkway, Leeming where a man was located in the rear yard of a property. He was taken into custody. A short time later a white Mercedes believed to be stolen was sighted in Leeming and evaded police through various suburbs before the occupants abandoned the vehicle in Rivervale. Two men fled on foot but were apprehended shortly after. Serco said Wandoo has several pieces of light industrial equipment, which are used in work and training programs. Should members of the public sight the remaining escapee they should not approach him but call police on 000.


Yarl's Wood
, Bedfordshire, England
Jul 9, 2016 bbc.com
Yarl's Wood immigration centre staff 'not adequately trained'
Yarl's Wood is the main removal centre holding women and families facing deportation Staff at an immigration removal centre were "not adequately trained", an independent report has found. Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire holds more than 350 detainees, most of them women, awaiting immigration status decisions. The centre is run by Serco under a Home Office contract, while health services are run by G4S under an NHS contract. Serco said it welcomed the National Audit Office (NAO) findings and G4S said there was "still work" to do to improve the "overall service".The National Audit Office said it gave "credit for the work that is now taking place" at Yarl's Wood. The NAO report focused on these contracts and management arrangements at the centre. The report said: "The contracts required that training should be provided, but staff at the centre were not adequately trained to deal with the particular concerns, issues and vulnerabilities of those in immigration detention. "G4S has been slow to meet its contractual obligations for training." Other issues highlighted in the report include: 35% of recommendations from a previous inspection in 2015 have not yet been dealt with Serco's reduction in staff meant there "were insufficient operational and management staff" Services at Yarl's Wood did not fully meet the needs of users, partly because of a "lack of clarity about which contractor was responsible The Home Office contract is over-engineered and creates large theoretical financial credits for even trivial deviations from the contract. Julia Rogers, Serco's managing director of immigration, said she welcomed the NAO's findings, adding: "We understand and appreciate the vulnerability of the people in our care and the legitimate concerns that many people and organisations have about them and we will continue to work to ensure they are well looked after at this difficult time in their lives." John Shaw, managing director of G4S for public services, said: "There is still work to do to continue to improve the overall service to detainees, particularly in terms of better joint-working across all agencies." A Home Office spokesman said: "The contract is designed to ensure that contractors are encouraged to deliver the broad spectrum of services to a defined standard and at the heart of this delivery is the welfare and wellbeing of all residents. "

Apr 25, 2015 bbc.com
A recent incident at the Yarl's Wood detention centre has given HM Inspectorate of Prisons "considerable concern", the BBC has learned. Detainees say guards broke up a peaceful protest with excessive force two weeks ago, but Serco, the company which runs the Bedfordshire centre for the Home Office, denies this. One guard involved with the incident has been suspended ahead of an inquiry. The Home Office says its professional standards unit will investigate. Bedfordshire police said their inquiry found no offence had taken place. Officials from the independent HM Inspectorate of Prison, which is currently carrying out an inspection of Yarl's Wood, said their concerns arose from CCTV footage of the incident. A lawyer for the detainees said a small group of women were staging a peaceful protest in a bedroom with a Kenyan asylum seeker, who was about to be deported. The facility houses up to 400 women under threat of deportation. Detainees claim dozens of staff in riot gear dragged them out, and that one guard used the edge of his riot shield to hit them on their legs and feet. Serco said staff had believed the women were armed with cutlery, so the guards had worn protective clothing. Serco said there was a question over whether a guard had used his shield appropriately. He has now been suspended pending an investigation. Two members of the facility's staff were suspended last month following allegations of abuse.


Jun 29, 2014 theguardian.com

Deported asylum seekers who have made allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by staff at the Yarl's Wood detention centre are to be called before an ongoing parliamentary inquiry. The home affairs select committee will formally interview female former detainees, including some who were subsequently deported, about their claims. MPs will also visit Yarl's Wood to inspect conditions following accusations of secrecy and a recent refusal by the Home Office to allow the UN special rapporteur into violence against women to inspect the centre. Last week, during the hearing, MPs accused Serco of quoting selectively from various inspections into the centre, which the company runs for the Home Office, at a cost of £12.5m a year. The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said: "There remain serious questions over the thoroughness of their [Serco's] investigations. It is vital that we have the full facts. The statements made by Serco must be tested. The committee feels strongly that those whose accusations have brought about these investigations should be given an opportunity to voice their concerns. We will look to call further witnesses." Serco said last Tuesday that it had received and investigated 31 complaints of inappropriate sexual behaviour involving staff – more than double the number that the company stated in a letter to MPs last September. The company also said that 10 staff members, relating to eight of the complaints, had been dismissed following complaints of inappropriate behaviour, two more than it previously stated. Confusingly, however, a freedom of information response by the Home Office, dated 30 April 2014, said that it knew of only one case of sexual contact that has been substantiated since Serco began managing Yarl's Wood seven years ago. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old Ugandan has alleged that she was deported after submitting a written complaint about an officer's alleged sexual advances. A wheelchair user known as Prossie N claims that a male guard in her room touched her leg and, according to her interpretation of his behaviour, propositioned her by implying that he could help her escape if she consented. Speaking from Uganda, she said: "It was clear that he wanted to have sex with me. The way he was acting, it was clear what he wanted. He asked if I needed his help. He said he would help me to get out of Yarl's Wood. I told him to get out. I said I know what he wants." Prossie N claims she submitted a complaint over the alleged incident, in mid-November last year, but said no one came to investigate her account. She was deported the following month. Serco, however, says it has no record of a complaint being made in November 2013. "They didn't do anything. I wrote a complaint and put it in the box but they just deported me," Prossie N claimed. Another alleged case involves a current detainee from South Africa who claims male guards entered her room without knocking, which is in breach of Serco guidelines. Serco denied this practice during Tuesday's hearing. The woman alleges that on 8 June a group of male guards and one female staff member entered her room without warning while she was in bed and that, although she made a complaint, nothing appeared to have happened. "I was in bed when they came in: they were demanding I just get out of bed because they wanted to search the room. It's still OK for them to walk into any room, any time they want," she said. She also alleged: "I have seen male officers behaving in an inappropriate manner with ladies. You see some flirting, things like that, touching the women." Norman Abusin, Serco's director at Yarl's Wood, said: "The complaint was thoroughly investigated by Serco and found to be unsubstantiated. The corridors leading to residents' rooms are covered by CCTV, which is monitored in the control centre, and this footage was used as evidence in their investigation." He added: "We view all allegations or complaints extremely seriously. There are two reporting systems, independent of Serco, which residents can use to raise concerns. Complaints are thoroughly investigated and, if substantiated, disciplinary action is always taken. Where appropriate the relevant external authorities are notified and involved." He added that every aspect of the way they treated detainees was independently scrutinised.


Oct 29, 2013 Our Kingdom

What is the government really doing to protect immigration detainees from their guards? In Parliament on Tuesday 15 October, the Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather challenged the government to come clean about a sexual abuse scandal. Male guards employed by the commercial contractor Serco have, allegedly, been sexually abusing vulnerable women in their care at Yarl's Wood, the Home Office's Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. Teather, the former families minister, asked: would the Home Secretary ensure that Serco's reports on the scandal were published? Would the Home Office investigate? What procedures were there to protect women from sexual assault and harassment? And had the Home Secretary reviewed the policy of detaining women for immigration purposes? How does the government's reply stand up to scrutiny? Let's take it apart. Speaking for the government, the Tory immigration minister Mark Harper said: "Detention plays a key role in the maintenance of an effective immigration control." And: "We are committed to ensuring that all detained persons are held safely and that they are treated with dignity and respect." In fact detainees' safety has been contracted out to commercial operators whose ethos and training has proved wanting, as demonstrated most dreadfully by the unlawful killing of Jimmy Mubenga, and in other more subtle ways every day on the detention estate. At Yarl's Wood, for instance, as a report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons reveals today, pregnant women are detained regardless of Home Office rules which say this should happen only in exceptional circumstances. They see their midwives at Bedford Hospital. The Prisons Inspectorate said: "In two cases, female escort staff had inappropriately accompanied women into the consultation room. One woman said that she had felt humiliated and was reluctant to attend any further hospital appointments as a result." So much for safety, dignity and respect. Back to guards' sexual misconduct. The Minister ploughed on: "Bedfordshire police are investigating the allegations . . . and Home Office Immigration Enforcement is offering full assistance to that investigation." Far from "offering full assistance", the Home Office forcibly deported alleged victims and witnesses. Several of them were put on a flight to Pakistan on 1 October 2013, as revealed here on OurKingdom. Detention centre guards "undergo thorough security checks and complete extensive training before they are certificated to work with detainees," the Minister assured Parliament. "Certificated to work". Sounds impressive. The Inquest into Jimmy Mubenga's death heard that the Home Office casually handed open-ended dispensations to its contractors to allow unaccredited guards to carry on working. The Coroner's recent scathing critique of that arrangement is here in her Rule 43 Report. "There are strict rules governing interaction with detainees," said the Minister. "Any member of staff who contravenes any of the rules governing interaction, whether inside or outside centres, will face disciplinary action, which may lead to dismissal." That sounds tough. But today's report from the Prisons Inspectorate found that when one detainee complained of "physical and verbal abuse" by staff, "the matter had been investigated by an administrative assistant". The Minister assured Parliament and the public: "The use of CCTV cameras in the majority of public areas in IRCs [immigration removal centres] and in all vans used for escorting detainees provides an additional safeguard." Has nobody told him that Yarl's Wood guards allegedly abuse their charges in the upstairs room set aside for asylum-seekers to take family photos? There's a nice sofa, curtains, and no CCTV up there. The Minister commended the formal complaints system. Never mind the Prisons Inspectorate's observation that while detainees can submit complaints out of sight of their guards, the complaint boxes are not secure. Perhaps optimistically the Minister claimed that detainees could even "contact the police direct to report an allegation of sexual assault or harassment" if they wanted to. Neither the formal complaints procedure nor independent inspection by HM Inspectorate of Prisons brought guards' alleged sexual abuse to light. That was down to one alleged victim's persistence, a good lawyer — Harriet Wistrich, and a journalist, the Observer's Mark Townsend. "All serious misconduct allegations are passed by the Professional Standards Unit of the Home Office to the appropriate authorities, such as the police or other oversight bodies," said the Minister. Ah, the Professional Standards Unit. They're the people who looked into the case of 'Tanja', the young detainee allegedly subjected to oral sex by one Yarl's Wood guard. They claimed she failed to indicate that the sexual contact was "anything other than consensual". Don't they understand that the power imbalance between a uniformed guard, keys jangling at his belt, and a vulnerable young woman, newly imprisoned, is so extreme that it makes genuine consent on the part of detainees impossible? The Minister said: "Detainees who are not satisfied with the way in which their complaint has been handled may ask for it to be reviewed by the independent prisons and probation ombudsman." Not if they've been disappeared to Pakistan. As for publishing Serco's reports into the matter, the Minister claimed that can't be done — because of the Data Protection Act! That bit did make me laugh. The government's true commitment to women's safety may be illustrated by one troubling story contained in today's report from the Prisons Inspectorate. A Home Office official decided that an unaccompanied child was an adult, so she was locked up in Yarl's Wood, awaiting removal to Italy. The girl had been distressed during interview and had mentioned a 25 year-old boyfriend. Following legal representations a social worker interviewed her and determined that she was indeed a child. So, she was taken into care. She disappeared. A man contacted social services to say that she had absconded because she didn't want to go to Italy. The Home Office left it there. This girl has been recorded as an 'absconder' and not reported as a missing person to the police. The Home Office neither knows nor, perhaps, cares what has become of her.

July 17, 2011 Bedfordshire on Sunday
An officer at an immigration centre has been sacked after claims he got a detainee pregnant. The Serco employee, who worked at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Clapham, was dismissed on July 8. A spokesman for the firm, which has managed and operated the centre since April 2007, confirmed the member of staff’s misconduct was in connection with the case of a resident who became pregnant. In February, Bedfordshire on Sunday revealed that the officer had been suspended pending an internal and professional standards investigation. It is believed the employee was suspended on full pay from January. This week a spokesman for Serco confirmed the member of staff had been dismissed and added: “We expect the highest levels of professionalism from our staff at all times, and we do not tolerate misconduct.” He said there was a possibility the former employee may appeal against the dismissal but that they would be replaced. Over the last four and a half years, a total of nine detention custody officers working at the centre have been dismissed. There are currently 239 Serco staff there. Yarl’s Wood has been dogged in controversy since it opened in 2001.

February 14, 2011 BBC
An officer at an immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire has been suspended over an allegation he had a relationship with a detainee. The man, employed by Serco, worked at the Yarl's Wood Removal Centre near Bedford and was suspended in January. Serco said a staff member was suspended and faced internal and professional standards investigations. The Home Office said two people had been suspended over separate allegations but one was back at work.

June 14, 2010 The Guardian
Social workers failed to properly investigate a case of two five-year-old boys found engaging in sexual activity at Yarl's Wood detention centre and concerns an older child may have abused one of them, an official report found today. The independent review by Bedford and Central Bedfordshire safeguarding children boards also criticised police, the UK Borders Agency and Serco, which runs the centre. It said the case highlighted a gap in the regulation of services to children in immigration detention, with no single agency having enough overarching responsibility. The coalition government has pledged to end the practice of keeping children detention centres within the next few months. More than 1,000 children a year are held in such centres. Medical evidence, including a report from the Royal Colleges of paediatricians, GPs and psychiatrists, has found that the detention of children in the asylum system is linked to serious physical and psychological harm. The policy has been criticised by the government's inspectorate and the former children's commissioner for England.

May 26, 2010 BBC
Yarl's Wood was used to hold families before deportation Children are no longer to be detained in detention centres like Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire or Oakington in Cambridgeshire. The new government announced the end of the practice in the Queen's speech on Tuesday. Yarl's Wood has been the main removal centre holding women and families facing deportation for many years. Chief prisons inspector Dame Anne Owers said in March some children were being held at Yarl's Wood unnecessarily. And her report said half the centre's children were later released because they were either no longer facing removal or were being allowed to live normally while legal appeals were considered by the courts. Each year, about 2,000 children were held at the centre for an average of 15 days. There have been a number of protests at Yarl's Wood, including a hunger strike by women reported to be campaigning against their length of stay at the detention centre.

March 21, 2010 BBC
Women refusing food at a detention centre in Bedfordshire have started taking regular meals, a group said. A campaign group said women on hunger strike at Yarl's Wood immigration centre near Bedford had suspended it to avoid permanent damage to their health. They warned the strike would resume if no investigation is made of complaints, conditions and "arbitrary removals". The UK Border Agency denied there was a hunger strike, claiming that the women had used shops and vending machines. Black Women's Rape Action Project said the hunger strike had now been called off. Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said: "We have proof that 'food refusers' are regularly purchasing food from the shop and vending machines. Hearing into allegations -- "They have all been seen by doctors who have no concerns about their health. "Campaigning groups are being deliberately misled. "All the individuals involved have been found by us and independent judges to have no right to stay in the UK." An urgent High Court hearing has been ordered into claims of inhumane conditions at the detention centre. Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) said the case concerned the treatment of women and children involved in asylum and immigration claims. Serco, the private company that runs Yarl's Wood, has described the allegations of inhumane and degrading treatment as "unfounded and untrue".

March 18, 2010 Peterborough Today
A High Court judge has ordered an urgent hearing of a legal challenge to alleged "inhumane" conditions at Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, lawyers said. Human rights pressure group Liberty was also given permission to intervene in the case. Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) said the case concerned the conditions in which women and children involved in asylum and immigration claims were being held at the detention centre. Mrs Justice Davies gave permission for an urgent hearing after seeing documents supporting the application for judicial review, said a PIL spokesman. The allegations include accusations that women and children have been subjected to racist slurs and held in squalid, prison-like conditions for between two weeks and one year without any indication as to when they might be released. Serco, the private company that runs Yarl's Wood, has described the allegations of inhumane and degrading treatment as "unfounded and untrue". PIL solicitor Jim Duffy said: "Serco and the Home Office will now be forced to explain in open court how the abuse and despair that these women and children have been forced to endure squares with national and international human rights standards. "Given the evidence of a systematic disregard for human dignity, it will be a tall order."

March 10, 2010 Luton Today
A group of detainees who claim they suffered 'inhumane and degrading treatment' while at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre are suing the Home Office. The 11 women have employed Leigh Day & Co solicitors to seek damages from the government and Serco, the private security company which runs the Clapham detention centre. The women, who are still detained and are on hunger strike, allege that their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and their rights not to be tortured, suffer inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment were all breached by employees of Serco. The breach occurred when around 70 women gathered peacefully to present a petition against the conditions and treatment at the centre to representatives of the UK Borders Agency. The Times & Citizen reported on February 11 that detainees were locked in a corridor by Serco employees for about eight hours with little ventilation and without the use of lavatories and medical treatment. Frances Swaine, partner and head of the human rights department at the law firm said: "My clients have told me that the corridor soon became highly unpleasant and unsanitary. "Women with existing medical conditions including HIV, asthma and sickle cell anaemia were being denied their medication and treatment leading to a severe deterioration in their health. "Other women became unwell, some hyperventilated and others collapsed." She added: "Some women called for an ambulance on their mobile phones, but later found out they were denied entry to the detention centre. "This is one very serious incident, but having read their petition and talked to the women I was appalled to discover the general poor treatment and conditions they are expected to live in on a daily basis." Leigh Day & Co is now seeking a declaration to the effect that the detainees rights were violated, and appropriate damages from Serco and the Home Office. A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "The well-being of detainees is of paramount concern to the UK Border Agency, which is why all detainees were monitored by healthcare staff - as well as members of the Independent Monitoring Board – throughout the protest."

March 1, 2010 The Guardian
Lawyers are due to launch a legal challenge today on behalf of four women held at Yarl's Wood detention centre, claiming their incarceration amounts to "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment that breaches their human rights. The lawyers, who say they will submit the application at the high court in London, are applying for a judicial review of the government's detention policy, claiming it breaches articles 3, 5 and 8 of the European convention on human rights. "This disgraceful policy will now be the subject of legal challenge," said Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, which is bringing the action. "It is unlawful and we are calling, on behalf of our clients, for the policy to be struck down and for there to be an independent investigation." Serco, the private company that runs Yarl's Wood, has described allegations of inhumane and degrading treatment as "unfounded and untrue". The move comes amid an increasingly bitter row over the treatment of the women and children held at the Bedfordshire detention centre. Home Office minister Meg Hillier sent a letter to MPs last week denying claims by women at Yarl's Wood that they have been on hunger strike for three weeks. Hillier said that, although there are "a small number of detainees … refusing formal meals from the canteen, they are buying food from the centre's shop and vending machines and having food delivered by visitors". In her letter, Hillier said the women's health had been checked and there was no cause for concern. She also denied claims by detainees that they had been racially abused and assaulted during a protest last month. She said: "All the detainees are treated with dignity and respect ... I can assure you that there was no such behaviour by our staff." However, detainees, campaigners and some MPs have reacted angrily to her letter. On Friday, 34 women at Yarl's Wood issued a statement through the Black Women's Rape Action Project insisting they were still on hunger strike. The strike enters its fourth week today. "At no particular point in time have we gone to eat in the dining room, got food from the vending machines or at the shop," the women's statement said. They also stand by their claims that some of them were assaulted during the protest on 8 February and that others were called "black monkeys". Cristel Amiss, speaking on behalf of the women's project, said: "The government is falling on its face with its vain attempts to smear hunger strikers. We are in daily contact with hunger strikers and know that vacuous claims that women are treated with dignity and respect mean nothing in the face of overwhelming evidence of appalling conditions and abuse." Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP, criticised the government's reaction to the protest and said he had written to the chief inspector of prisons asking her to conduct an "urgent unannounced visit" to investigate the situation. John McDonnell, a Labour MP, has tabled an early day motion calling for an independent inquiry into the recent allegations of "violence, mistreatment and racist abuse" at the centre. "There are real concerns," he said, "and all we are asking the government to do is to look at these seriously and hold an independent inquiry. Instead, by turning a blind eye they are simply exacerbating the problems and this can lead to more serious problems like riots and the burning down of detention centres." Yesterday, the Observer reported that Lin Homer, chief executive of the UK Border Agency, and John Vine, the agency's chief inspector, are to be questioned by the home affairs select committee about the situation at Yarl's Wood. However, last night Hillier stood by her statement.

February 28, 2010 The Observer
Senior Home Office officials will be questioned this week over allegations that women inside Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre were assaulted by staff using riot shields. The Observer has gathered a series of testimonies from detainees inside the Bedfordshire centre who claimed they had witnessed women being beaten and injured during a disturbance this month. One image, taken inside Yarl's Wood on a mobile phone, reveals extensive bruising to a woman's shoulder and legs allegedly caused by staff during the incident on 8 February, days after dozens of asylum seekers instigated a hunger strike over the length of their detention. Another image shows injuries to a detainee's finger after a guard had allegedly slammed a window on her hand. On Tuesday, Lin Homer, chief executive of the UK Border Agency, and John Vine, the agency's chief inspector, are expected to be questioned by the home affairs select committee over the claims, which are denied by staff. Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said: "This evidence is extremely concerning. If the allegations are correct, then it may be appropriate for a police investigation. We are eager to establish what exactly is going on in Yarl's Wood." The hunger strike will enter its fourth week tomorrow. The allegations of abuse are being examined by London law firms Birnberg Peirce and Fisher Meredith. Jacqui McKenzie of Birnberg Peirce said: "I have spoken to a client of mine in Yarl's Wood and she has seen the bruising herself from the incident on 8 February. There is an atmosphere of real tension there." The images of the bruising show the injuries allegedly sustained during the incident by Denise McNeil, a 35-year-old Jamaican, who claims she was hit by staff and, since the disturbance, has been moved to London's Holloway prison. A Home Office spokesman said that observers from the centre's Independent Monitoring Board had been present during the incident and had seen no evidence to support the claims. He added that CCTV footage had revealed nothing. It is also understood that Bedfordshire police were called to the incident and monitored the situation without taking any action. A spokesman for Serco, the private firm that runs Yarl's Wood, last night dismissed the allegations as "unfounded and untrue". He added: "The incident on 8 February occurred because our staff intervened to prevent four women from continuing to bully other residents into missing meals." Participants in the hunger strike claim to have been held in a corridor for more than six hours. Several women claim to have fainted and one to have suffered an asthma attack before several detainees forced open an window and tried to escape before being confronted by guards. Meme Jallow, 26, from Gambia, who has been inside Yarl's Wood for seven months, said: "A girl called Denise was by the windows. One officer took her and hit her by the face." Another hunger striker, a 37-year-old from Nigeria who asked to remain anonymous for fear of her asylum case being unfairly reviewed, said: "The security went outside and used shields like they do when there is a war. That is what they used to smash one of the women who was outside." Adeola Omotosho, 44, from Nigeria, who was released from Yarl's Wood three days after the incident, yesterday described how she had been injured during the protest. "The officers closed the window against my finger. It was very painful and I was really bleeding heavily, but they still refused to open the window. So I called an ambulance, but it was not allowed to come in." Serco sources said that ambulance staff had been allowed on site during the protest but paramedics were not required because the most significant injury was Omotosho's fingernail injury. A spokesman denied shields had been used to hit or move women and said they had only been placed against the open window in order to "secure the area". Many detainees also complained they have suffered racist abuse, which the centre denies. Omotosho added: "Black monkeys is what they call us. They don't like us at all. They tell us to go back to our countries." Cristal Amiss from Black Women's Rape Action Project, which is supporting the detainees, said: "We have spoken to over 50 women and have heard entirely consistent reports of racist abuse, threats and other violence." Frances Swaine, head of the human rights department at London law firm Leigh Day, said: "The situation at Yarl's Wood has been getting progressively worse over the past few months, and shows no signs of improvement – and the hunger strike has brought to the fore the real issues." A number of the detainees said they had been traumatised by the incident, with a letter from one stating that three other women detainees had been caught trying to kill themselves.

February 24, 2010 BBC
An MP is demanding an inquiry into a hunger strike by women at a holding centre for immigrants in Bedfordshire. A dispute at Yarl's Wood Centre began three weeks ago when 50 women protested at being held for up to two years. Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell has tabled a House of Commons motion, calling on the Inspector of Prisons to hold an investigation. The MP wants an inquiry into reports of violence, mistreatment and "racist abuse" which the centre denies. Mr McDonnell claims some of the women involved in the protest were held in a hallway for more than five hours, denied access to toilets and water, and locked out in the cold. Independent monitors -- Fellow Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who represents Islington North, has called for a halt to any removals and deportations of the women involved while an inquiry is carried out. He has also signed the House of Commons motion. David Wood, director for criminality and detention, said: "All detainees are treated with dignity and respect, with access to legal advice and heath care facilities. "A small group of around 20 women are currently considered as food refusers. This means they have missed three consecutive meals in the canteen. "However, there are alternate food arrangements within the centre, such as shops and vending machines. "The well-being of detainees is of paramount concern to the UK Border Agency, which is why healthcare staff and independent monitors from the Independent Monitoring Board were at the scene to witness the women's protest. "The demonstration remained passive at all times and there was no use of force."

February 17, 2010 InTheNews
The children's commissioner has today issued a report on the treatment of children at an immigration detention centre, in which he says it is "no place for children". Sir Al Aynsley-Green, children's commissioner for England looked at the experiences of children in a progress report into conditions in which they are being held at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre. In the report Sir Al said there were concerns that still needed to be addressed and said that increasingly children were being separated from their parents when being taken to the centre. The report, which contains recommendations for further improvement, follows up one published by the commissioner in 2009. Since last year's report, UKBA and SERCO, which manages Yarl's Wood, have shown a commitment to change procedures and improve conditions, the commissioner reported. Following the previous report the commissioner said he had seen an improved environment with a "less institutional feel", newly constructed classrooms, fewer prison style uniforms being worn, better facilities for feeding babies, a new complaints system and an end to transporting children to Yarl's Wood in caged vans. Despite these improvements the Sir Al said there was still more to be done, and said he was particularly concerned that there have also been reports of unacceptable delays in providing treatment. In one case, he reported, a mother informed a nurse at 11:20 GMT that her five-year-old child had fallen earlier in the playground. The child could not lift her arm and was not seen by a GP until 2:05 GMT the next day and went to A&E at 7:02 GMT; the child had a broken arm. Sir Al said: "It is the government's role rather than mine to decide whether a child should be removed from the UK but I want to make sure the process by which they are removed is humane. Yarl's Wood is no place for a child. "Ultimately, I would like to see a far faster process and an end to the detention of children in the asylum system. There needs to be more education about the alternatives to detention. But I recognise an end to child detention won't happen overnight and am working to improve the arrest and detention process by looking at it from the child's perspective." Following the Sir Al's report the Refugee Council said it was a "timely reminder" of the harm of detaining children. Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council said: "Children continue to be terrified by dawn raids, sometimes being separated from their parents, being removed from their houses without knowing what is going to happen to their things. "Perhaps most worrying is that some incidents of harm to children's physical and mental health are still not being properly treated or recorded. There can be no excuse for perfunctory examinations of children or dismissing behaviour such as a child wetting himself at nursery when he previously did not have this problem. "These are children we are talking about. It is unacceptable that they are detained at all. "The government must heed the commissioner’s words and end this abhorrent practice now."

February 9, 2010 Channel 4
A group of women being held at Yarl's Wood immigration centre are refusing food for a fifth day in protest over the length of detention and being separated from children. Yarl's Wood immigration centre near Bedford is the UK's main removal centre for women and families. It can hold 405 people in four wings. A hunger strike that started on Friday quickly spread. Some women, angry at being separated from their children, refused food. It is thought most of the women are Jamaican, Nigerian and Chinese, but others joined their protest. On Monday, day four of the hunger strike, a group of about 50 women tried to move around the centre and were locked in a corridor. The women say they were held there for hours on end without water or access to a toilet. They told campaigners some of them had fainted. Most of the women returned to their room without staff using force. But four women were taken away by police. They have reportedly been detained under the immigration act and are being handed over to the UK border agency. Police have refused to confirm the nationality of the women. Officers say this "peaceful protest" was "resolved" last night. But campaigners claim the hunger strike is not over. One of the woman on hunger strike inside the detention centre, Debo, told Channel 4 News they were hoping the action would force the immigration authorities to look into their situation. But she insisted the protest was peaceful: "We are not going to destroy anything, we are not going to fight". Cristel Amiss from the Black Women's Rape Action Project, which campaigns for foreign nationals who have fled rape, say she has spoken to two women inside Yarl's Wood who are part of the group of around 20 women sticking to their hunger strike. SERCO, which runs Yarl's Wood, says it needs to look at the lunch records to see how many detainees have refused food before it can confirm how many women remain on hunger strike.

December 13, 2009 Telegraph
The Rev Canon James Rosenthal, dressed in a red robe with a long white beard and holding a bishop's mitre and crook, was refused entry by guards at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire. After gently protesting that he was not a threat, he started to bless the £300 worth of gifts donated by congregations of several London churches. But after an unedifying stand off, the security guards then called the police on the visitor, who was accompanied by one of Britain's most distinguished clerics. Mr Rosental, who is the Anglican church’s leading expert on St Nicholas, said he was “extremely disappointed” that 35 boys and girls at the centre were denied a pre-arranged visit by the patron saint of children and the imprisoned. "St Nick has never been turned away from anywhere before," he said. "So I was extremely disappointed not to be able to hand deliver the gifts to the children detained at Yarl's Wood. I hope the kids realise that they will be firmly in my prayers." Mr Rosental is writing a formal letter of complaint to the centre about how it handled the visit and the heavy-handed tactics employed by the guards who patrol the perimeter fence. Serco, a private security company that operates Yarl’s Wood, referred questions to the Home Office. A spokesman said that only people subject to stringent security checks can be allowed into the detention centre and there can be no exceptions. But the St Nicholas Society, of which Mr Rosental is patron, said that Serco did not respond to numerous requests before teh visit earlier this month to discuss how a handover of presents could be carried out and also refused requests to provide details about the 35 children in the centre so they could receive appropriate presents. Serco also refused permission for the two clerics to enter the centre to visit two refugee families later the same day, as it had previously agreed. They were handed letters from Dawn Elaine, contracts manager at Yarl's Mr Rosental said: "If this is how visitors are treated, I shudder to imagine what else transpires inside Yarl's Wood.” He was accompanied on the trip earlier this month by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey. He said: "This was about bringing a moment of joy to kids locked up in a deplorable situation. I can't help but contrast the smiles and wonderment on the faces of the children St Nicholas visited at a local primary school with the sad fate of those kids who will be locked up in Yarl's Wood over Christmas." The presents were eventually loaded into an unmarked van by staff who refused to provide a name, number or receipt for the gifts. Mr Rosental asked one "guard" his name and the man said "write down 'Father Christmas'".

December 10, 2009 Lutin Today
Children at the Yarl's Wood Detention Centre were visited by a pair of children's authors in a bid to highlight child detention in the UK. Beverley Naidoo, author of The Other Side of Truth and Baba's Gift, and illustrator Karin Littlewood met children at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) on Monday (7 December) to give a reading and art workshop. Mrs Littlewood said: "Whenever I go into schools, the children always say about the books and drawings, 'can I take this home with me?' "This is the first time that nobody has asked me that. "It made me think, where is home for these children?" "All you have to do is to think, if that was your family, if that was your sister or daughter or nephew, what would you feel about them being locked up?" On Wednesday (December 9) an open letter signed by children's authors, calling for an end to child detention was published in national newspaper The Guardian. Yarl's Wood, on the outskirts of Clapham, is the main centre in the UK with family accommodation. In May 2008 Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner, visited the site and found it to be below the standards expected by the NHS. On Thursday London's royal medical colleges issued a strongly worded briefing paper which called for an end to the detention of children. The paper claimed that "detention is unacceptable and should cease without delay." It also warned of the physical and psychological consequences of such treatment on the 1,000 children detained in IRCs every year. Mrs Naidoo said: "We have spent a morning with a group of delightful, thoughtful young people. "But this brings home the fact that our government should not be asking Serco to lock up innocent children when there are alternatives to detention. "It is done in our name and we should say a loud 'No'. "The UK has a fine tradition of offering refuge to those who need it, but I fear that the current climate of hostility to those who seek asylum here is threatening that tradition."

December 10, 2009 The Guardian
Detaining children in immigration centres puts them at risk of mental health problems, self-harm and even suicide, a coalition of royal medical colleges warns the government today. Around 1,000 children, mainly from asylum-seeking families awaiting deportation, are held in Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire every year, according to a joint report. The Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Paediatrics and Child Health, and Psychiatrists, and the UK Faculty of Public Health are demanding an end to a practice which has been stopped in Australia and Sweden. By declaring that children are exposed to "significant harm" – a term used by the medical profession to trigger child protection procedures – doctors are challenging the integrity of the asylum system. Dr Nick Lessof, a consultant paediatrician at the Homerton hospital in east London, who has visited Yarl's Wood, said self-harm among children detained there was commonplace. He added that children also wrote suicide notes "that are not believed" by staff. The royal colleges called for the NHS to take over the direct medical care of children who it said were among the most vulnerable in the community. They claimed they were not being given the necessary childhood immunisations and staff had failed to recognise or treat promptly injuries, including in one case a broken arm. Health problems reported include "emotional and psychological regression, post-traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression and suicidal behaviour". Dr Philip Collins, a forensic adolescent psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital in south London, said that children of asylum seekers were "uniquely at risk" of very high levels of mental health problems. "We are damaging the mental health of many of the children and young people who end up in a prison-like environment by the UK Border Agency." Dr Les Ashton, a GP working in a primary care service for asylum seekers in Leicester, said: "Numerous families have had their door broken down in the middle of the night and they have been terrified by the process. They come back having been released and they are then picked up again." Residential hostels, rather than immigration centres, should be provided to house families awaiting deportation, the doctors urged, citing successful schemes in Australia and Sweden. Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "It is vital that all children detained in the UK have access to a registered children's nurse who has the appropriate training and support to ensure their mental and physical health needs are met." Both the Children's Society and the organisation Bail for Immigration Detainees back the policy paper. Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at The Children's Society, said: "Many of the children we work with experience depression, bed-wetting, weight-loss and even self-harm." Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner for England, said: "It is time for this inhumane practice to end." Serco, the private company which runs Yarl's Wood immigration centre, declined to comment but David Wood, head of criminality and detention for the UK Border Agency, said: "Treating children with care and compassion is a priority. Families at Yarl's Wood should get the same level of care available on the NHS, and they do."

November 29, 2009 BBC
Many children whose parents are awaiting deportation from the UK are being held in immigration detention centres for too long, MPs have said. The home affairs select committee said it was "not acceptable" that some were being detained for up to two months. Chairman Keith Vaz said the children had "done nothing wrong" and should only ever be held as "a last resort". The government said treating children with "care and compassion" was a priority for the UK Border Agency. The committee's report says that nearly 1,000 children a year are detained in the UK while they and their families await removal from the country. On average, they spend more than a fortnight in detention, although periods of up to 61 days are not uncommon, it says. Earlier this year, children's commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green said the practice of holding children in detention should be ended altogether. 'Unlikely to abscond' - Mr Vaz referred to Yarl's Wood detention centre, in Bedfordshire, in particular, which has been heavily criticised in the past. He said that despite some recent improvements, such as a purpose-built school, it remained "essentially a prison" and "no place for a child". The committee said it was difficult to justify detaining families when they were very unlikely to abscond and in future the UK Border Agency should consider other alternatives such as electronic tagging. "It is not acceptable that we are detaining so many children for such long periods of time - these children have done nothing wrong, they should not be being punished," Mr Vaz said. "It must always be absolutely the last resort to keep a child detained for any length of time."

November 24, 2009 The Guardian
The brutal truth of child detention2,000 asylum seekers' kids a year are locked up, and the only beneficiaries seem to be firms running centres like Yarl's Wood. A report by the novelist Clare Sambrook of End Child Detention Now, which campaigns against the detention of 2,000 asylum seekers' children every year, asks the very reasonable question: who does this expensive incarceration benefit? Clearly not the children who, according to every study ever written on this issue, suffer acutely from being taken from their homes on the orders of the UK Border Agency and placed in a confined space for an indeterminate period. Many argue that society benefits because it is protected from the asylum seekers and their families. Sambrook wonders how that can be when there is no evidence that asylum seekers are likely to abscond. So who benefits? Clearly the private companies that run so much of this operation have a lot to gain. G4S, the company that operates Tinlsey House, one of three detention centres where last month 10-year-old Adeoti Ogunsola tried to strangle herself after being forcibly redetained, recently reported rising profits and growth in government business which had offset weakness in commercial sectors. As Sambrook reports: "Last year G4S handed chief executive Nick Buckles a £1.4m pay package. That's £3,835 every day. He owns £4m in G4S shares, tipped by the Daily Telegraph recently as, 'a solid buy for these uncertain times'." Someone else who may reasonably be said to benefit from this policy is Christopher Hyman, the chief executive of Serco, who also earns in the region of £3,000 a day. His company runs the notorious Yarl's Wood detention centre where children have been detained far beyond the 28-day with charge maximum allowed for terror suspects. "Traumatised child inmates, who must carry ID cards at all times, refer to Yarl's Wood as 'prison' and 'the camp'," says Sambrook. Among the indirect beneficiaries she also identifies John Reid, the former home secretary, who is paid £50,000 a year as a consultant to G4S for, among other things, hosting government and security industry breakfasts. Meanwhile children are suffering. The Lorek report in the peer review journal Child Abuse and Neglect says detained children experience "increased fear due to being suddenly placed in a facility resembling a prison … the abrupt loss of home, school friends and all that was familiar to them". Some exhibit "sexualised behaviour". Older children are so stressed they wet their bed and soil their pants. Who benefits from this expensive and harsh policy? Sambrook answers her own questions with this – " some extremely wealthy grownups".

October 13, 2009 The Guardian
Medical experts have found clear evidence that children held in UK immigration centres develop mental and physical health difficulties, according to a report published today. In the first study of its kind, a team of paediatricians and psychologists found 73% of children they examined had developed clinically significant emotional and behavioural problems since being detained. None had previously reported such problems. All those seen by a psychologist displayed symptoms of depression and anxiety and of being disoriented, confused and frightened by the experience. One child suffered the re-emergence of post-traumatic stress disorder, related to a previous war experience. The report raised serious concerns over child protection issues after finding that at least 12 of the children had been separated from a main carer, two placed in detention with an adult with whom they had never lived, and one mother and her 20-month-old baby separated for three weeks during an outbreak of chicken pox. The study, published in Child Abuse & Neglect: the International Journal, examined 24 children aged between three months and 17 years detained at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, which is operated by Serco for the UK Border Agency.

June 19, 2009 BBC
A couple of days ago in Bedfordshire, uniformed immigration officers surrounded Melchior Singo as his screaming children looked on. They dragged him away as his wife Ethol tried to stop them, to talk to her husband, to keep the family together. Amid highly charged and chaotic scenes inside the Yarl's Wood detention centre on Wednesday afternoon, two officers were injured - one claims to have been bitten, another stabbed in the neck with a pen. Children were vomiting and weeping as a number of men were marched away. Ethol then took nine-year-old Olger and seven-year-old Renee into a side room and instructed them to pray. It was the dramatic end to a week when the desperation of those facing deportation boiled over. The Singo family is from Malawi. Their claims to stay in Britain have all but come to an end after living for the past five years in Leyland near Preston in Lancashire. They were active members of a local church and the children both attended the scout troop. Melchior worked at the local hospital; Ethol had a job in Tesco. Whatever the rights and wrongs of their residency application, the family has been shown support by people in Leyland. A church newsletter shows what can happen when people are asked to choose between friendship and the system: "The PPC and the monks think that it is our Christian duty to support them in their hour of need, and we know how many of you are concerned for them. There will be fund-raising events happening. As usual this Sunday we will attempt to talk to them through the computer." It seems clear that, this week, Melchior's resilience snapped. After staying with his family for over a month in Yarl's Wood, with the threat of imminent deportation hanging over them, he was among twenty detainees who took part in what is being described as a hunger strike. Ethol, who I spoke to last night, says it was a period of "fasting and praying", but it was undoubtedly a challenge to the system. There were demands from a number of the families held in the centre for better healthcare, but their decision to boycott the centre's canteen and to move their mattresses into the corridors looks to many like a protest borne of desperation. It was clearly a potentially dangerous situation for the staff at Yarl's Wood, too. Children and parents were sitting and lying around the centre and staff could not clean or go about their normal duties. They had tried to calm the situation with the offer of one-to-one meetings with any detainee who had a grievance or a problem about their treatment. However, a small number of protesters had convinced the rest that they should all stick together. Their sit-in would continue until someone from the Home Office addressed them as a group. According to Ethol, with the impasse continuing, the management from the private security firm Serco decided to take action just after lunch on Wednesday. "At about 2.15, twenty to thirty officers came in, rushing to where were sitting," she told me. "They were wearing black and white Serco uniforms. Someone was filming it all." Ethol was having her hair braided by another detainee and her two children were sitting playing cards when the operation began. "They saw it all happen. People were being sick everywhere, throwing up, crying and screaming. My children were really traumatised." The Home Office described the operation this way: "Officers separated a small number of detainees from the general population who were disrupting the normal operation of Yarls Wood. The separation was conducted by staff trained in conflict resolution. It was undertaken with the utmost sensitivity and there have been no injuries to detainees." Ethol and the children were escorted from Yarl's Wood that evening and taken by van to Kingsley House near Gatwick. They were apparently told that Melchior would join them shortly afterwards. In fact, he had been taken to Colnbrook near Heathrow. Ethol's attempts to contact her husband were rebuffed, one officer telling her that her husband was not allowed to make or accept any calls. I am told that the UK Border Agency later apologised for what it accepted was a mistake.

June 18, 2009 Guardian
At least 30 detainees at the Yarl's Wood detention centre have been on hunger strike since Monday in protest at poor conditions at the Bedfordshire site. Melchior Singo, 39, from Malawi, said people in the family unit had stopped eating in protest at the sub-standard healthcare and the detention of children. The action began on Monday. One detainee, Solomom Ojeheonmon, said: "Children, some of them as young as five months old, in this detention centre, are sick." In April, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner, said the government's policy of holding 2,000 children a year in removal centres could be harmful to their health. "The UK should not be detaining any child who has had an unsuccessful asylum claim," he said. Susanna Kushaba, from Uganda, raised concerns when her five-month-old baby developed a temperature. She claims staff ignored her and she was forced to dial 999 to gain medical attention. "I tried telling the staff and the staff were calling the healthcare but no one was coming." Dr Frank Arnold, clinical director of Medical Justice, said: "We are not at all surprised by these complaints." He said he agreed with MP Alistair Burt, who described Yarl's Wood as "beyond comprehension and decency".

April 26, 2009 The Independent
Children held in the infamous Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre are being denied urgent medical treatment, handled violently and left at risk of serious harm, a damning report by the Children's Commissioner for England will say tomorrow. Sir Al Aynsley-Green's investigation paints a shocking picture of neglect and even cruelty towards children trapped within the centre's razor-wired walls, and finds "substantial evidence that detention is harmful and damaging to children and young people". Since opening in 2001, the Bedfordshire detention centre has been plagued by hunger strikes, self-harm incidents, a suicide and riots. It was severely damaged by fire during disturbances in 2002. Despite repeated scandals – and the damning findings of this report – planning permission was given last month to double the centre's capacity from 405 places to nearly 900. Around 2,000 children a year are held in immigration centres – half in Yarl's Wood, which has been run by a private company, Serco, since 2007. The experience they described is prison in all but name. Politicians, immigration experts and doctors last night called for an end to the detention of children and for urgent measures to ensure other detainees are treated humanely. The report, based on the most recent inspection by Sir Al, reveals that basic safeguards for children in Yarl's Wood are failing. Welfare issues raising "serious concern" were ignored, with children forced to remain in custody even when they were seriously ill or in danger from parents with mental health problems, the report says. It also criticises the "scant regard to basic welfare needs" during arrest and transportation to the centre. Key meetings between social services, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Yarl's Wood staff designed to discuss the welfare implications of keeping a child locked up for more than 28 days dwelt instead on PR and legal concerns. The commissioner calls for an urgent review to "ensure the best interests of the child are central to decisions on detention". The UKBA claims that steps have now been taken to protect children since the inspection last May, but Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at The Children's Society, disputes this. "The agency has not made the improvements necessary to safeguard these children," she said. "The Secretary of State for Children must intervene immediately as this report exposes serious child protection risks which have not been adequately addressed." The commissioner found that seriously ill children were denied hospital treatment, while bureaucracy substantially delayed others with critical conditions from getting to hospital. A baby with pneumonia and a teenager with severe mental health problems were among those affected. Despite being the main detention centre for children, no one on the Yarl's Wood health team has child health qualifications, the report says. Sir Al found major healthcare shortcomings at the centre, describing safeguards, records and professionalism as inadequate and below NHS standards. He reports that two children with sickle cell disease were not allowed to bring their penicillin with them when they were seized from their homes. As a result they became seriously ill and required urgent treatment. Instead of being referred to hospital for intravenous fluids and antibiotics they were simply given paracetamol. Under the NHS this would be categorised as a life-threatening "Serious Untoward Incident". Children suffering from serious medical conditions and the mentally ill were routinely kept in detention despite guidelines stating clearly they should not be. One diabetic child had three emergency treatments in the 24 days she was detained – including two occasions where her blood sugar left her "un-rousable" – but was still not released. An eight-month-old baby with asthma was neither released nor given an inhaler. Immunisations were denied to children documented as needing them, creating a health risk. One child was even given the wrong vaccine, while the centre's policy for preventing malaria was described as containing "serious errors" and being "unacceptably poor". Doctors working for Medical Justice, an organisation that provides voluntary medical assistance for Yarl's Wood families, insist there is wider evidence of medical abuse beyond the commissioner's report. They say they have documented evidence of a child under 12 being given his mother's anti-depressant drugs on removal; of a young person in severe pain with sickle cell disease being denied painkillers because he was unable to walk to the clinic to receive them in person; and of children contracting severe malaria on being returned to their home country because they were refused suitable preventative medicine. Paediatrician Dr Fred Martineau said: "The detention of children, whether newborn babies or adolescents, almost invariably causes them physical or emotional suffering. Doctors from Medical Justice regularly see the effects of this, ranging from a failure to give immunisations against potentially fatal diseases, through to clinical depression ...The only way of preventing this harm is to end their detention." Healthcare at Yarl's Wood has long been a problem, with outbreaks of vomiting bugs and chickenpox common. The centre was last night understood to be in the middle of yet another chickenpox quarantine. The report describes the ordeal of "dawn raids" – where up to 20 officers arrive to seize families in the early hours of the morning. Children repeatedly reported being treated with violence, including being dragged on the floor and thrown to the ground. Young people told how traumatised they were by the experience, noting that officers seemed to be laughing at them and "taking pleasure in the family's distress". The study said: "In a large majority of cases, children reported that officers' behaviour had been aggressive, rude and, on a few occasions, violent." Children were even watched by officers of the opposite sex while they dressed, which the report called "an unacceptable safeguarding risk which must be addressed immediately". They also had to watch parents being handcuffed and heavily restrained – a direct flouting of UKBA guidelines. One mother, so distressed at being handcuffed in front of her family and thrown into a caged van, tried to hang herself with her son's shoelaces. Caged prison vans are routinely used to transport children to the centre near Bedford, despite promises that people carriers would be used for families. Children were denied toilet breaks or food and drink. The vans, the report says, are "stained with urine and vomit". The commissioner also expressed concern at the increase in the length of time for which children are being held, which threatens their mental well-being. Last week, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, told MPs: "Detention is a final option and is only used for the shortest period necessary." But the Children's Commissioner says: "The average length of time children and young people are being detained is increasing, and, crucially, the decision to detain them is neither being used as a last resort nor for the shortest period of time as required by Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child." In conclusion, Sir Al calls for an end to the detention of children. "Each year in the UK, we detain around 2,000 children for administrative purposes. This has to end," he said. His call was echoed by the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who said: "The incarceration of thousands of children accused of no crime, often for months on end, is inhumane. The treatment of these vulnerable children in Yarl's Wood is a shameful indictment of the Government's failed immigration policy." The Border and Immigration minister Phil Woolas said: "If people refuse to go home then detention becomes a necessity. We don't want to split up families, so we hold children with their parents, and while they are in our care we treat them with sensitivity and compassion." Taken away: 'They came for us at night' -- Dominic Mwafulirwa trembles at the words "Yarl's Wood". The eight-year-old was asleep when six guards wrenched him and his mother, Cecilia, 35, from their Swansea home in the early hours three months ago. They had arrived in the UK from Malawi when Dominic was a year old. Cecilia, who had run away from an abusive husband, started a new life in Wales, where Dominic excelled at school. That life ended abruptly when the men arrived. "Dominic didn't say a word from the time they came until we were locked up," Cecilia says. "It was hard to keep his spirits up. When I asked him why he wasn't going to the school at Yarl's Wood, he said: 'What's the point? We're not learning anything.' He refused to wash and started smashing things. He's still really angry and confused. "We spent 50 days in that place. I lost 20kg. I'm a sickle cell patient and by the end of the 50 days my haemoglobin was too low. I'm really anaemic and they knew I had depression. They changed my medication and they threatened to take my son away." Cecilia and Dominic have been out of Yarl's Wood since the end of March. They have yet to find out whether they will be allowed to stay in the UK.

November 5, 2008 Institute on Race Relations
A Kenyan asylum seeker held at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre had a vital self-help guide confiscated by staff days before a crucial deadline for her case. Mercy Wanjiku [1], who fled from torture in Kenya, had three days in which to prepare and submit papers for an oral judicial review and, without a lawyer, was dependent on the advice contained in the guide. The UK Border Agency has since said that there were no legal grounds for the confiscation, although Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre claims it has the right to remove it. Mercy said, 'What does it mean when the authorities can change the rules and deny me help to make my case to the Home Office? Are they aiming to deliberately sabotage our legal cases?' Mercy claims that she was forced to open her mail in front of Yarl's Wood staff on 8 October and that the Legal Action for Women's Self-help guide against detention and deportation was then confiscated. She says that a male member of staff told her that he was only following orders by informing her that it was 'illegal to have the book in here'. It was only after Mercy, with the help of Black Women's Rape Action Project (BWRAP), made an official complaint to the UK Border Agency and to Serco, the multi-national company who runs Yarl's Wood, sent letters to her MP and lodged a theft report with the local police, that the guide was returned. According to BWRAP, the UK Border Agency has since admitted that the guide was taken in direct contravention of the Detention Centre Rules and that there were no legal grounds upon which it could have been confiscated. BWRAP claims that hundreds of women have relied on the self-help guide to provide crucial information for their cases, having been forced to represent themselves as a result of cuts in legal aid funding. It says that sixty per cent of women in detention attend their appeal hearings without legal representation. Mercy had been a qualified nurse in Kenya where she had opened a clinic for young girls seeking protection from the threat of female genital mutilation. She claimed that as a result of her work she was kidnapped and tortured by the secretive Mungiki sect, who promote Kikuyu traditions including female genital mutilation, and that she was left for dead on a roadside before being discovered by passersby. Her claim was rejected by the authorities. As a result of publicity around Mercy's case, a deportation order against her has been postponed. A legal team has now agreed to look into making a fresh claim on her behalf. [1] This is not her real name, which has been changed in order to protect her ident