Press release – 4 October 2010
Campsfield demonstrators sound warning after Prison Inspector’s report
The report on an unannounced vist to Campsfield in May, before Mitie took over, is not harsh, but it does say that:
* Putting detainees in isolation cells is sometimes not properly authorised;
* UKBA casework (which decides the freedom or continuing imprisonment of people not charged with any crime) has ‘weaknesses’;
* there is insufficent use of interpreters and translations;
* there are significant weaknesses in health care;
* there should be more focus on detainee care, not just on control issues; and
* education provision is inadequate.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, says ‘this inspection identified few signs of significant deterioration’ – which is not entirely reassuring as it implies there has been some significant deterioration – and ‘too little progress had been made in remedying areas that we had previously identified as requiring improvement and [we] had particular concerns about the lack of progress in health care.’ He hopes that ‘With a new provider in place, there is now no excuse for the centre not to make expeditious progress on our recommendations.’
Bill MacKeith, campaign spokesperson, said ‘We have received reports of a cut in health service personnel at Campsfield since May. So that is cause for grave concern, since the inspectors already had ‘particular concerns’ about this before Mitie took over the centre that month. In that respect the new ‘provider’ is doing worse than GEO.
‘We expressed our concern when Mitie took over, that
1. They reportedly have a record for being hostile to migrant workers;
2. They have no experience of running prisons or detention centres;
3. Chief Executive Ruby McGregor-Smith was one of the 35 bosses who signed a letter to the Telegraph backing public spending cuts in the interests of “a healthier and more stable economy” and commenting on “significant opportunities for the outsourcing market” that would result.
4. Mitie is like other outsourcing companies.They specialise in taking over a service and then squeezing it for profit; finding more ways to exploit staff orcut corners. The migrants wrongfully imprisoned in Campsfield, who provide more or less forced or virtual slave labour for just £5 a day, are specially vulnerable to that exploitation.’
Contact: Bill MacKeith 558145