Brook House Immigration Removal Centre Photo: PA
The Home Office has halted a procurement programme for a new manager of the two immigration removal centres at Gatwick airport in order to allow two reviews of the culture at the immigration detention centres to be completed following allegations of mistreatment.
The announcement, which was made following the end of the local election purdah period, means that existing operator G4S, whose contract was set to expire this month, will be given a two-year extension to run the Brook House and Tinsley House centres.
In a statement, the Home Office said that the contract to run the centres was put out to tender in November 2016. However, after what the department called “careful consideration of the bids”, it has been decided to restart the process to “allow for the review of two significant reports on immigration detention before a new procurement begins”.
These reviews are looking at the culture and whistle-blowing protections at the two establishments.
One, headed by former prisons watchdog Stephen Shaw, is examining progress in implementing the recommendations of his 2016 review of staff culture, recruitment and training, as well as the complaints mechanisms and whistle-blowing protections. Barrister Kate Lampard’s review into the culture at Brook House was commissioned by G4S to look at factors affecting staff morale and behaviour, and attitudes to whistle-blowing. This review was ordered after undercover footage for BBC Panorama showing abuse of detainees at the Brook House immigration centre, it has been revealed.
The government will publish Shaw’s report in the coming months and expects Lampard’s findings later in the year.
A Home Office spokesperson said these reviews meant it would be “would be premature to enter into a new contract at this stage”.
“All immigration detainees must be treated with dignity and respect, and we will accept nothing but the highest standards from those who have responsibility for their care,” they added.
“The procurement process featured a heightened level of due diligence against the allegations from the Panorama programme on Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) last year, so we took the time we needed to consider all bids very carefully.”
Relaunching the procurement process later this year, when both have published their findings, will ensure that the conclusions can be considered as part of the new contract, the department added.
The government’s deportation procedures have been in the spotlight after it was revealed that members of the Windrush generation, who came to the UK before 1971, were facing challenges their immigration status.
The Home Office has announced it is setting up a dedicated contact point for people with questions about their immigration status amid concerns longstanding UK residents being threatened with deportation or denied free NHS treatment because of uncertainty about their immigration status.