The Serco Immigration Centre is forbidding entry to external people, and claims have arisen that this action is an attempt to hide the abuse and deportation of vulnerable women. Serco is an international service company that claims to improve the quality and efficiency of essential services that matter to millions of people around the world. For example, they seek to provide safe transport, find jobs for the long-term unemployed, help patients in their recovery, improve local environments, rehabilitate offenders, protect borders and support the military.
Their customers consist of national and local governments, which gives them an authoritative stance in the world of business. However, recent allegations have been made about improper conduct regarding the deportation of women without proper mental health assessments, and the dismissal of sexual abuse claims made against members of staff.
An ex-Serco official, who was employed to work inside the Yarl’s Wood immigration centre, has made allegations of an anti-immigration culture that is the norm amongst staff. This claim followed an investigation by MP’s into reports that the company failed to disclose an internal report of repeated sexual abuse of a female resident by a member of staff. Prior to this, another claim was made in 2012 that an extremely vulnerable detainee with severe psychological problems was also sexually assaulted before being deported.
The immigration detention centre itself is so highly guarded that it would not even permit the United Nations to enter, which is extremely suspicious. Those forbidding entry to authorities like the United Nations are probably people with something to hide. If not, there would be no harm in allowing them to look around and check up on the organisation. This leads to questions as to whether Serco Immigration Centre forbids entry in order to hide misconduct like abuse and the deportation of innocent women.
One of the whistleblowers who have come forward has stated that the immigration removal centre is not fit for purpose, and is a catalyst for abusive behaviour towards women. They then continued to say that there is a culture of disbelief within the organisation which amounts to the majority of misconduct allegations being written off.
He also claimed that a female member of staff had told him about “blind spots” within the centre that were not covered by CCTV. This, she said, was where people came to abuse detainees, and one had even been impregnated. Allegations made by former detainees also overlapped with those made by whistleblowers, proving that many felt they had to flirt with staff in order to gain the basic essentials like toiletries.
Another complaint was about the mental health of detainees being insufficiently examined. The whistleblower stated that he repeatedly overheard staff saying things like: ‘They need to go back, they need to leave the country, they’re only coming here to use NHS resources.” This reportedly would all be said openly with no discretion and no sense of embarrassment about being overheard.
Rather than assessing mental health, they would merely deport whoever was in question. Many were at risk of self-harming or had already done so, which was contradicted by the centre’s report that there were “good primary mental health provisions.” The reason for this, allegedly, is so that women could be deported faster, and that by identifying mental health needs, it would “block” the system. One woman was reportedly dying from kidney failure, and yet was deported on the ground that she was taking up NHS resources.
Cristel Amiss, a member of the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, has stated that the amount of rape allegations have been phenomenal, and that: “The revelations of the abuse and mistreatment of vulnerable women have come about because of women’s courageous decision to speak publicly and the Observer‘s determination to pursue this issue.”
Serco themselves have denied all allegations. However, if the copious amounts of allegations stacked up against them are true, the investigations will provide the proof needed in order to make a change, and bring justice for its victims. The claims made against Serco lead to queries about whether the Immigration Centre forbids external entry in order to hide the truth about abuse and deportation of women, which is especially troubling in view of the fact that the company has been labeled “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.”
Option by Melissa McDonald