British firm looking into abuse allegations at immigrant facility

Several workers at a British security firm have been suspended over allegations that they’ve abused migrants at one of its London-area facilities, the company said.


G4S, a global company supplying security personnel and secure prisoner transportation, operates under contract with the British government at a facility that holds detainees facing deportation.
The world’s third-largest private employer with 585,000 employees, G4S announced that it suspended nine workers — a nurse, six detention custody officers and two managers. The action came after producers of an upcoming BBC television program Panorama said its undercover video footage revealed widespread abuse and assaults against detainees at Brook House, a G4S facility adjacent to London’s Gatwick Airport.

About 500 people are detained at Brook House, and some have been housed there for years, The Independent reported Friday.

The British Home Office said the majority of the detainees are failed asylum seekers or undocumented immigrants waiting to be transported to their homelands. The majority are from Pakistan, Albania, Nigeria, Afghanistan and India.

The Panorama producers say they captured covert footage of employees “mocking, abusing and assaulting” detainees. The program also asserts that drug use at the facility is “rife,” and “widespread self-harm and attempted suicides” were observed, as well as “chaos, incompetence and abuse.”

The program is scheduled to air in Britain Monday.

G4S said it’s started an investigation into the allegations.

“It’s despicable, it’s disgraceful. It’s my job to drive the expected behaviors. I take personal accountability and responsibility for doing that,” G4S manager Jerry Petherick told BBC Radio.

Brook House is one of 11 detention centers in Britain that collectively took in nearly 30,000 people last year. While the majority left within one month, dozens were detained for 1-2 years, and some longer.