THE government fines security giant G4S more money when migrants escape from its Brook House detention centre than when they die in its care, a new report has revealed.
Escapes cost the company £30,000, but deaths are valued at a fraction of that figure. There is only a £10,000 fine for suicides “involving any failure by G4S to follow procedures” and a £716 penalty for non-fatal self-harm.
The figures were published by the National Audit Office (NAO) today as part of its investigation into the G4S-run Brook House detention centre near Gatwick.
While the £10,000-per-suicide figure was disclosed at a freedom of information tribunal in 2015, the escape fine had not been revealed because of extensive objections from the Home Office.
But the NAO gained unprecedented access to G4S financial data after undercover filming exposed shocking conditions at Brook House, including use of excessive force and abusive language by guards.
The auditors revealed that G4S had profited over £14 million from the running of Brook House between 2012 and 2018, sparking outrage from Labour.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “It is utterly perverse that millions are made from the undignified and inhumane conditions human beings are living in under G4S-run detention centres.
“This Tory government has a disgraceful record of putting profits before people.
“Labour in government will close down both Yarl’s Wood and Brook House, end indefinite detention and review the entire immigration detention system.”
The profit figures have also outraged lawyers representing detainees who were paid just £1 per hour to perform essential work while held in centres such as Brook House.
Philip Armitage, a lawyer at Duncan Lewis solicitors, told the Morning Star: “The National Audit Office’s findings are truly shocking.
“Our clients were working in immigration detention for a maximum £1 an hour rate of pay at the same time that contract providers such as G4S were making millions from running the detention centres.
“Paying detainees £1 an hour to, for example, clean their own detention centre must be creating huge savings in the cost of external cleaners.”
Mr Armitage said the Court of Appeal had granted permission last week for a challenge to the £1 per hour pay scheme, adding that he looked forward to “further judicial scrutiny of this disgraceful practice.”