New Yarl’s Wood contract for Serco

Published: Monday 24th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Outsourcing giant Serco’s contract to run a controversial immigration detention centre for women that has been subject to claims of sexual misconduct by staff has been renewed by the Government.

Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire faced heavy criticism by human rights campaigners amid reports of sexual misconduct by staff, women being detained for long periods of time and pregnant detainees being held without justification.

Despite the troubles faced by the centre, the Home Office has awarded Serco a £70 million contract to operate the immigration jail for a further eight years.

It emerged last year that two members of staff were fired for engaging in sexual activity with a detainee at the centre, while a third employee was sacked for failing to take any action when the female detainee reported the two men.

Serco was first appointed to manage the centre, which holds 410 detainees, in 2007.

A Home Office spokesman said: “S erco Ltd will continue to manage Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on behalf of the Home Office after emerging as the preferred contractor following a comprehensive re-tendering process.

“Serco’s bid demonstrated that its offer was the best in meeting quality and cost criteria and providing value for money for the taxpayer.”

Earlier this year, a United Nations (UN) investigator was blocked from entering Yarl’s Wood despite repeated requests to access the centre, which h olds mainly single adult women but also holds a number of adult families.

Prison inspectors found a number of women at the centre – where none of the detainees has been charged with an offence or held through normal judicial circumstances – were detained for long periods, including one for almost four years.

They also discovered that pregnant women had been held without evidence of exceptional circumstances required to justify their captivity. One of the women had been admitted to hospital twice because of pregnancy-related complications.

And detainees who had clear human trafficking indicators – such as one woman who had been picked up in a brothel – had not been referred to the national trafficking referral mechanism, as required.

Published: Monday 24th November 2014 by The News Editor

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