To Stephen Shaw
Dear Mr Shaw,
Your Inquiry into Global Solutions Limited following BBC TV's 'Detention Undercover: The Real Story'
Once more the unsuitability of GSL/Group 4 to be involved in the running of detention centres has been exposed, this time in the BBC television programme 'Detention Undercover: The Real Story'. On this occasion systematic abuse of detainees by GSL employees has been filmed. This abuse has been denounced before by detainees and support groups, and it is the subject of a number of civil cases that are ongoing.
Criticism of GSL and its Group 4 forerunner goes back many years.
· In 1998 the trial of the Campsfield 9 charged with riot at Campsfield detention centre collapsed because, the prosecution submitted to the judge, the evidence given by Group 4 guards was unreliable (i.e. they lied).
· In 2003 Group 4 lost control of Yarl's Wood detention centre and attempted to cover up their errors by suing the police for some £90 million damages.
· In 2003 the Daily Mirror exposed the racism of Group 4 guards at Yarl's Wood when a reporter worked there as a guard under cover; the racism exposed included racism on the part of a Group 4 employee who was supposedly giving race
· In 2004 the trial of 13 former Yarl's Wood detainees virtually collapsed when not a single charge of arson was proved. The presiding judge denounced Group 4 as 'a laughing stock'.
Despite this abysmal record the Government wrongly awarded Group 4/GSL the contract to build and run the proposed accommodation centre at Bicester, near Oxford.
The GSL project manager at Bicester is John Jasper, who was manager at Campsfield at the time of the trial referred to above. He gave evidence in the Campsfield 9 trial, where he agreed that Group 4's 'Anti Racism Policy' notice, which was on display in the visitors' area, was nowhere visible to the
detainees who presumably were meant to be able to benefit from knowing of its existence, i.e. the display of the notice was pure window dressing, for public consumption and not intended to tackle racism in the centre in any way.
After 12 years of close experience of the company in its Group 4 and GSL manifestations, we are convinced that the record shows that GSL is incapable of reform and should be taken out of the detention arena.
We are also convinced that failure to act will encourage contractors to believe their failures and incompetence will continue to be tolerated.
We therefore call on you to take the opportunity provided by the Inquiry provoked by the showing of the 'Detention Undercover' programme to urge the government to
· cease further dealings with GSL immediately, and
· cancel/withdraw from contracts with GSL.
On behalf of the Campaign to Close Campsfield,
And of Oxford & Distrct Trades Union Council