'Care & Custody': Mitie's detention centre contracts
As Mitie becomes the Home Office's largest provider of immigration detention this month, merging Colnbrook and Harmondsworth into a super-size 'Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre', Corporate Watch takes a look at the company's track record at Campsfield House, the only detention centre it has run before.
Already Campsfield has been marred by a major fire, suicide and three mass hunger strikes since Mitie took over in 2011. So how has Mitie won this new contract, and will asylum-seekers be any safer in their hands?
2011 – year one: a suicide and a mass hunger strike
2012 – year two: another mass hunger-strike
2013 – year three: a major fire
His claims were broadcast by local and national media. But once the fire was extinguished, the outspoken detainee was pulled from his room at 4am by officers dressed in full riot gear. They dragged him down the corridor (stamping on him as they went) and put him in a segregation unit, where the detainee claims he was beaten up with “one guard trying to choke him for 15 minutes”.
2014: Mitie rises from the ashes, but detainees still go hungry
When this hunger strike started, supporters gathered outside Campsfield. Acting Centre Manager Andrew Simpson (pictured right) came out to keep an eye on them. He is an ex-navy seaman, who served on HMS Antelope when it was bombed during the Falklands/Malvinas war. It is fortunate the protests inside did not escalate, because unbeknown to the detainees, Simpson had also spent over twenty years in the Prison Service, where he specialised in riot control. He was Deputy Head of the Prison Service's Control and Restraint (C&R) National Training Centre. Here he rose to be “Head of a national special operations...providing a specialist response to incidents involving Hostage rescue, riot/public order control and rescue/intervention at height.” His expertise ensured he became “Tactical Advisor to Ministers and Senior Managers” where he apparently implemented “the successful resolution of politically sensitive Prison related incidents”, according to his LinkedIn profile. Simpson worked at Campsfield for Mitie from April 2012 to July 2014 (but now works for a bus company in Doncaster). Simpson claims responsibility for developing “new strategies and innovations to promote business transformation and growth” which he evidenced by “the awarding of the Heathrow IRC contract in 2014” which he says will be “the largest IRC in Europe”. He also takes credit for having “Project Managed the successful completion of a major refurbishment of the centre and the installation of a Fire suppression system during 2013 and 2014”, but makes no mention of his company failing to install the sprinklers before it was too late
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