G4S is the UK's biggest private security company, with its government contracts alone worth over £600 million. Responsible for security services, managing detention centres, prisons, and 675 court and police station holding cells, G4S have also just been granted the £100 million contract for providing 10,000 security guards for the upcoming olympics.

Whilst G4S still seem to be government favourites, their record is far from spotless. The firm lost their previous 'forcible deportation' contract last September after receiving 773 complaints of abuse – both verbal and physical. The final straw came with the death of Jimmy Mubenga in October 2010, an Angolan asylum seeker who died as a result of his forced deportation by G4S guards. Two of the guards are on bail facing criminal charges, whilst G4S is still waiting to hear whether they are to face corporate manslaughter charges.

Now, asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside are expected to accept this multi-national, money-hungry, security company as their landlords.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Disassociation Game: UPM sacked by G4S?

(originally published on SYMAAG's website) 

United Property Management (UPM) will no longer be sub-contracted by G4S to provide asylum housing in Yorkshire and Humberside. On June 18th the phrase “G4S has selected United Property Management (UPM) as its primary housing partner” disappeared from the G4S COMPASS website. Simultaneously, UPM’s website stopped referring to G4S as “partners”.

UPM has provided sub-standard housing to asylum seekers in our region for years, while UKBA sub-contracted to them, despite frequent complaints from asylum seeking tenants and asylum rights campaigners. Their recent evictions of tenants in Bradford were the focus of a campaign led by Why Refugee Women and SYMAAG. In one case, a woman and her 3 month old baby were moved 40 miles, from Bradford to Doncaster, to a bare flat with no cooker, chairs and only a tiny sink next to the toilet for all their washing needs.

In what could be a remarkable coincidence UKBA announced on the same day (in a letter entitled Corporate Partners – Transition Announcement Letter (2) that “the Transition phase of the COMPASS project has now begun in the North East Yorkshire and the Humber region”. That is, UKBA no longer have to sub-contract to a company who are regarded as unacceptable, even by the standards of G4S!

The next few weeks will see G4S in a frantic search for other sub-contractors paid for by £135 million of public money in Yorkshire and Humberside. We will be subjecting them to the same scrutiny as we put UPM under. No doubt there are also issues of legality relating to the COMPASS contract which was signed with UPM as the named primary sub-contractor (not their replacement organisations).

Whichever sub-contractors G4S select we maintain our view that G4S are prison guards not landlords. Their record is one of abuse towards asylum seekers in this country and elsewhere. We should not be paying them public money to operate this contract.

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