Serco, incompetent British coronavirus disaster profiteers

This 9 September 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Professor Anthony Costello slams the test and trace “fiasco”

The government‘s test, track and trace system is in disarray. With rising coronavirus infections and the system failing to get a grip on the pandemic, it’s time for a change.

The privatised system, run by Serco and Sitel has failed. Professor Anthony Costello here explains how and why we need an alternative.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 24 September 2020:

Protesters to demand Serco gets the sack on test and trace contract

CAMPAIGNERS will protest outside the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) tomorrow morning to demand that failing contractor Serco is sacked from its Covid-19 test-and-trace contract.

Dressed in giant beer costumes and proclaiming that Serco “couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery” they will demand that local public-health protection teams are put in charge of the crucial system.

The protest, scheduled to start at 10am, echoes the rising public distrust in the ability of profit-hungry privateers to deliver the efficient test-and-trace system needed to bring down infection rates.

Pascale Robinson, of organisers We Own It, said: “This week, Boris Johnson has introduced tighter restrictions in an attempt to get a handle on the recent spike in Covid cases.

“But sadly, his response is falling well short of what’s needed to get out of this crisis safely.”

Mr Robison said that in order to get out of lockdown, save lives and hug our loved ones, “we desperately need a test, track and trace system that works.

“Unfortunately, what we have instead is an unmitigated disaster, with large parts run by Serco, a company synonymous with bungling and never-ending failure.

“The truth is that Serco couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. It’s time for [the company] to be kicked out of the track-and-trace system.”

Serco mercenary corporation, British coronavirus disaster profiteers

This 2014 video from Britain says about itself:

UK Charity Calls For Government Ban For G4S And Serco

British outsourcing firms G4S and Serco should be barred from bidding for government work until a fraud investigation into their failed criminal-tagging contracts is complete, a penal reform charity said on Monday. The two firms were found in July to have charged for monitoring criminals who were dead, in prison or had not been tagged at all. The Howard League for Penal Reform, a British charity, criticized that move and said on Tuesday it would hand a dossier outlining failures in recent years by both firms in delivering justice contracts to police in order to assist the SFO inquiry.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain, 31 July 2020:

23 million reasons not to trust Serco on Covid-19

Serco, a company deeply reliant on government contracts, has hired another government insider — helping them win more lucrative public-sector gigs to mess up like the ‘track and trace’ debacle — despite being fined £23m for fraud, writes SOLOMON HUGHES

IN JULY Serco announced Dame Sue Owen, formerly a top civil servant, is becoming one of its non-executive directors. Dame Sue was permanent secretary for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport until April 2019. That made her the most senior civil servant in the department, although it isn’t a department particularly relevant to Serco’s government business.

However, Dame Sue has had a long career in government with many other Serco-relevant positions: she was a Department for Work and Pensions director-general from 2013-19 and had senior positions in the Treasury before that.

Serco itself told investors Dame Sue “has held senior positions in several government departments.”

Corporations cashing in on Covid-19 are set to make billions in profits as poverty soars, Oxfam warns: here.

British Serco mercenaries, Conservatives against refugees

This video from Scotland says about itself:

Powerful oratory: Dennis Canavan speaks out on SERCO’s mass eviction plan. Saturday August 4 2018.

Sign the petition here.

Another video from Scotland used to say about itself:

30 July 2018

Sajid Javid urged to halt Serco eviction of Glasgow asylum seekers.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is being urged to intervene to stop a housing provider from locking hundred of asylum seekers out of their homes, leaving them destitute. Glasgow city council and MPs expressed “deep concern” that an imminent mass eviction of asylum seekers by Serco would trigger a humanitarian crisis in the city. Serco, a private firm which houses thousands of asylum seekers in Glasgow, says it will start evicting more than 300 people.

By Conrad Landin in Scotland:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Glaswegians rally to protest against ‘mass eviction’ of refugees by Serco

HUNDREDS of Glaswegians rallied last night in protest at the “mass eviction” of refugees by Serco.

The outsourcing giant has provoked a wave of outcry by proposing to change the locks on the front doors of 300 refugees’ homes in Glasgow who have been refused asylum in Britain.

Serco, which provides asylum-seeker housing under a public contract, announced at the weekend that it would “be commencing with the issuing of lock-change notices” from Monday.

Serco said it was “considering” halting the plan, but SNP, Greens and Labour politicans have all co-signed a letter calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene. They argued that that evictions would cause a “humanitarian crisis” on the streets of Scotland’s largest city.

Yesterday housing associations and homelessness charity Shelter joined the condemnation.

Homelessness is a damaging and horrific experience for anyone to face and it is something that should never be wilfully forced on our fellow human beings, particularly those that have come to Scotland seeking a new life and support”, Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said. “This is a tragic and deplorable situation.

“We call on the Home Office and Serco to immediately cease this course of action and remember that these are people’s homes and lives that are being treated with such contempt.”

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations chief executive Sally Thomas said: “We are concerned now that Serco is in danger of putting profit before people, failing to work within the spirit of the law and letting down vulnerable households in the support and inadequate time they need to make alternative housing arrangements.

Serco leases many of the homes they provide to asylum-seekers from housing associations in Glasgow. Speaking on behalf of members, we would be concerned if even lawful evictions were done in such a way that was inhumane and put vulnerable households on the streets, without support.”

Scotland’s Living Rent tenants’ union said the evictions could be resisted through a mass programme of community engagement.

“As a tenants’ union, we will not allow this brutal attack by Serco on some of the most vulnerable people in our city to become just another episode in the shameful history of housing in Glasgow”, Craig Paterson said.

“Our position as a union is clear. We are against all evictions, we are against homelessness, we are against the victimisation and intimidation of tenants by those who hold power, wealth and property in their hands.”

The Campaign for Socialism, a left-wing group which works within Scottish Labour, is holding a public meeting to rally support against the evictions tonight at 7pm at John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street, Glasgow G2 4RE.

Protester demands the Serco-run Yarl’s Wood detention centre is shut down – Serco are now evicting hundreds of asylum seekers

THREE hundred asylum seekers are threatened with eviction by private company Serco. It has already begun to change the locks, throwing them onto the streets of Glasgow. Serco, which houses thousands of asylum seekers in Glasgow, issued the first six ‘lock change’ notices on Monday, giving residents just seven days’ notice to leave the properties: here.

Scotland: Protests force Serco to halt asylum seeker evictions: here.

By Sam Tobin in England:

A PALESTINIAN man fighting deportation to Gaza had his latest legal challenge upheld by the Court of Appeal today.

The 34-year-old, known as MI, said the upper tribunal that rejected his previous appeal had not properly considered the effect of deportation on his heavily pregnant wife, who suffers from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The tribunal heard medical evidence that MI’s wife’s condition had worsened due to the stress of the appeal and the threat of deportation.

MI also spoke of the difficulties his family faced in “re-establishing themselves following a two-year absence from Gaza” following Israeli military operations in July and August 2014. He said his own home had been destroyed, which had forced his family “to move to a small house without electricity or clean water.”

Manjit Gill QC, for MI, told the court that, if deported, MI and his wife “would either be returning to Gaza with a very young baby or perhaps [his wife would be] giving birth on return to a child who would have to suffer the deprived conditions in Gaza.”

The court also heard MI’s family members living in Gaza have had “difficulties with Hamas”, in part because of his father and sister’s role working in Fatah’s intelligence services.

Lord Justice Flaux ruled that the tribunal “failed to have proper regard to … the evidence as to the seriously worsened position after the Israeli military operation in 2014” and remitted the case back to the tribunal.

Permission to appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court was refused.

Home Office ‘misled’ High Court over child refugees, by Sam Tobin at the Court of Appeal.

OUTSOURCING giant Serco has lost the contract to house refugees in Scotland after an uproar over its evictions policy, but a Labour MP has warned that bad treatment will continue unless government policy is changed. The Home Office announced that Mears Group will take over the provision of asylum-seeker housing from September. Serco was slammed last summer for announcing that it would change the locks on the doors of residents who had been refused refugee status. After protests, a campaign to resist evictions and a hunger strike by two asylum-seekers, the company announced a “pause”: here.

Glasgow: Lock-change evictions of asylum seekers restarted by Serco: here.

Scottish politicians hit out at Serco boss over company’s attempts to boot hundreds of asylum-seekers from their home: here.

Refuse workers ballot on strike action against Serco: here.

Serco corporation’s breast cancer quackery

This 12 July 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Workers at the Royal Hospital in Whitechapel, East London continued their strike today after being refused a 30 pence an hour pay rise last month by their employer Serco.

A 5 May 2018 video from Britain used to say about itself:

Breast cancer hotline staff ‘had one hour’s training and fear making errors’:

Staff at a hotline set up to deal with the breast cancer screening scandal had just an hour’s training, it was claimed last night.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to apologise in Parliament and admit up to 270 women may have died because of an IT error.

It meant since 2009. The 309,000 women still alive will be offered the catch up scan in letters sent out this month.

A hotline run by Serco went live at 4pm on Wednesday, just hours after Mr Hunt had made his statement in the House of Commons.

But despite the fact that Public Health England (PHE) has known about the problem since January, staff had less than two hours training before they were taking calls.

A Serco employee told the Guardian staff are normally given two weeks training before handling inquiries. They are using a cheat sheet of symptoms while dealing with distressed women who have missed screenings, it is claimed.

Workers told the Guardian they were “disgusted” at how the hotline is being operated as calls rose from 5,000 on Wednesday to 10,000 on Friday. One said: “I felt ashamed knowing what had happened to these women, taking these calls when I am not medically trained, have no counselling background.”

Serco told the paper: “Our operatives are all trained and experienced in providing contact services on behalf of public service customers.” … It comes as experts warned thousands of elderly women will now go through unnecessary surgery due to the scandal.

Read more here.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 7 May 2018


THE CANCER breast screening scandal has been exacerbated by news that the call handlers on the hotline set up by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and run by private contractor Serco had an hour’s training and were required to tick off a checklist of symptoms. Hunt announced the hotline last Wednesday after admitting 450,000 women between 68 and 71 had not received letters inviting them for a final breast cancer screening and that 270 lives may have been cut short as a result.

BMA member Anna Athow commented yesterday: ‘To find that there was no preparation for the urgent telephone calls of these desperate women, and that they are being fobbed off with talking to Serco call handlers with an hour and a half’s training, shows the highest contempt for these patients.

‘Worse, it appears that call handlers were supposed to be giving clinical advice to patients about what to do on the basis of their symptoms, through a hastily put together spreadsheet of clinical guidelines.’

Athow stressed: ‘The cancelling of invitations for breast screening for 450,000 women from 2009 to date, is absolutely scandalous. ‘Public Health England (PHE) was informed in March 2017, by at least two trusts, that women in the 68 to 71 year age groups were not being sent their letters. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that PHE only found out in January 2018 and he made his statement to parliament on the 2nd May. ‘It was obvious there was going to be massive worry amongst women in this age group who had missed their screening mammograms. ‘It is also obvious there has been a massive cover-up going on.

‘The whole strength of screening is that it is able to detect cancers in the breast in women with few if any symptoms. Screening can detect small and early cancers that give rise to no symptoms at all.

‘The very idea of asking call handlers to assess symptoms and then give advice is outrageous in the first place. These patients should all be offered the screening mammograms they missed, and not have to wait 6 months for them. That is the least that PHE should have urgently organised. ‘The fact that they covered this up for so long and now show that they do not want to offer patients immediate urgent mammograms, shows that NHS England is not the slightest bit interested in improving cancer care, but is determined to undermine and destroy it, in their drive for privatisation reforms.

‘The development of the national breast screening programme in 1988 was a huge gain of the NHS and has saved the lives of thousands of women. Cancers are much less likely to have spread to the lymph nodes and are responsive to complete cures, if they are picked up early.

‘Hunt has misled parliament and must resign’, concluded Athow. The trade unions must act to bring the whole Tory gang down.

Israel: Incoming Knesset member who said women’s immodesty causes breast cancer resigns.

G4S, Serco British refugee housing scandal

This video from Australia says about itself:

Serco does not like it when refugees get to have human contact

Leonora 2012, Day 1.

Between the 26th and the 29th of January 2012, the Refugee Rights Action Network went to Leonora to visit the 160 unaccompanied children that the Australian Government has locked up, by themselves, in immigration detention.

When we arrived there, we were told by Serco that they had explained who we are to the boys (and that we came with gifts), and that they were told that no one inside wanted visitors or the MP3 players or arts supplies we brought with us. As usual, they lied.

And Australia is not the only country where Serco, and their G4S fellow mercenaries, treat refugees problematically.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

Damp, Squalid and Infested with Rats

Tuesday 31st January 2017

The shocking state of Britain’s housing for refugees

REFUGEES are being housed in “disgraceful” accommodation full of rats and rot, a damning report from MPs says today.

A probe by the home affairs select committee found that the Home Office and outsourcing giants Serco and G4S have failed to ensure vulnerable people are safely provided for.

The report, published this morning, slams the government’s inspection, compliance and complaints regimes for asylum-seeker accommodation.

It says one woman’s kitchen was “full of mice” who “even ran across the dining table while we were eating.”

Another refugee found rats in his home — triggered flashbacks of being tortured in a prison cell in his home country.

It says ministers have failed to adequately disperse refugees, with asylum-seekers “concentrated in a small number of the most deprived areas.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s own borough of Windsor and Maidenhead had not housed a single dispersed asylum-seeker, according to figures for the third quarter of 2016 published in the report.

The committee says councils should be forced to take refugees if they do not do so voluntarily.

Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper fumed: “The state of accommodation for some asylum-seekers and refugees in this country is a disgrace. And the current contract system just isn’t working. Major reforms are needed.

“We have come across too many examples of vulnerable people in unsafe accommodation, for example children living with infestations of mice, rats or bed bugs, lack of healthcare for pregnant women, or inadequate support for victims of rape and torture. No-one should be living in conditions like that.”

Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said it was “simply unacceptable.”

The committee also said the current system of contracting out housing provision should be scrapped.

Currently asylum support services are outsourced via six regional contracts, and then subcontracted to a complex web of providers.

Clearsprings Group, which holds two of the franchises, is the only provider with experience of asylum accommodation.

The other four contracts are held by the controversial outsourcing giants Serco and G4S.

The MPs found the system had prevented councils from imposing standards and that a catalogue of contractual breaches have been met with inadequate and inconsistent penalties.

Civil Service union PCS said the crisis was “inseparable” from the underfunding of public services.

“This is a harrowing account of how catastrophically and shamefully this government is failing asylum-seekers and the communities where they live,” the union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka said.

“The Home Office must be given the resources to process claims efficiently, so people are not left in limbo, and the profit motive must be removed so central and local government can plan properly how to provide this vital public service.”

Charities campaigning for the rights of refugees welcomed the report.

Freedom from Torture senior policy adviser Lucy Gregg said: “Time and time again we see shocking examples of how suppliers of asylum housing are failing to meet their most basic obligations, forcing survivors of torture to live in inappropriate, poorly-maintained and unsafe accommodation.”

And Natasha Walter, from the charity Women for Refugee Women, said: “We work with many women who have suffered extreme human rights abuses and who find that the accommodation they are offered in the asylum process is completely unsuitable for their needs.”

STRIKES across four London hospitals today expose the scandal of NHS privatisation as low-paid workers fight multinational privateer Serco for a pay rise: here.

‘WE WANT a pay rise!’ said over 200 striking Bart’s NHS Trust ancillary workers employed by privateer SERCO at the trust’s four London hospitals: here.

‘WE WANT a 3% pay rise. SERCO are making us work more for no extra money,’ Unite hospital worker Florence Kwao said yesterday on the second day of the 200 workers’ 48- hour strike: here.


Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants blockade Serco HQ in Yarl’s Wood protest: here.

Serco mercenaries pollute London

This video from Britain says about itself:

Serco and the private companies running your country

26 August 2013

Serco has been labelled the “biggest company you’ve never heard of”. It’s a private company, holding a huge number of government contracts for public services — everything from nuclear weapons defences to out of hours doctors services. Serco is a UK company but has a global reach and chances are it’s running services near you.

Some sources:
Serco‘s UK website (for a list of what they do):

Hansard report on Cornwall out of hours doctor Service:…

Telegraph interview with CEO Chris Hyman:…

Serco bullying whistleblowers:……

Tagging fraud inquiry:……

Thameside prison criticism:……

Serco‘s Bradford school record:…

Prisoners in toilets:……

Some more things we couldn’t fit in:
Firing Gurkhas:

Self-harm rates in immigration centres:…

Hunger strikes in Yarl’s Wood immigration centre:

A good round-up article I just found:…

Today not only news about G4S corporation; news about their fellow mercenaries of Serco as well.

By Paddy McGuffin in England:

Hazardous waste dumped in drains

Saturday 17th September 2016

Union calls for inquiry after reports of latest Serco scandal

by Paddy McGuffin

A UNION demanded an urgent inquiry yesterday into allegations that hazardous waste has been unlawfully dumped down public drains in west London by notorious contractor Serco.

Refuse, recycling and street cleaning union GMB called on both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency to investigate the claims, which concern the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, as a matter of urgency.

After each round, the refuse lorries are normally hosed down and cleaned, with the run-off and waste water collected and put into sealed barrels that should be disposed of in a particular way, GMB said.

However, the union accused Serco of repeatedly telling its staff to dispose of this hazardous waste water in public drains next to flats in Samuels Court and Field Road in Hammersmith and Fulham.

They believe this practice had been continuing for some time.

The disposal of the waste water into a public drain would contravene the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Further, it is alleged that no risk assessment was performed, no safe system of work was in place and no personal protective equipment was provided for the task, all of which are potential breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Serco has run the £140 million waste management and street cleaning contract in Hammersmith and Fulham since 2008.

GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny said the union had “significant concerns not just in relation to the health and safety of our members but to the members of the public living in the area due to the potential exposure to prohibited substances.

“This unregulated disposal of potentially hazardous waste is unacceptable and GMB members and the public must be protected from such unscrupulous practices.

“If Serco are unable to carry out this £140m contract in a legitimate way, then Hammersmith and Fulham should take it back in-house.”

Serco and the HSE did not respond to requests for comment before the Star went to press.

Serco mercenary corporation’s revolving door with governments

This video from Britain says about itself:

UK Charity Calls For Government Ban For G4S And Serco

12 May 2014

British outsourcing firms G4S and Serco should be barred from bidding for government work until a fraud investigation into their failed criminal-tagging contracts is complete, a penal reform charity said on Monday. The two firms were found in July to have charged for monitoring criminals who were dead, in prison or had not been tagged at all. The Howard League for Penal Reform, a British charity, criticized that move and said on Tuesday it would hand a dossier outlining failures in recent years by both firms in delivering justice contracts to police in order to assist the SFO inquiry.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

A brief history of Serco and its revolving door with ministers

Friday 9th September 2016

SERCO grew from a little-known firm to one the biggest privatisation contractors.

Serco now has a £3 billion turnover, largely thanks to public-sector contracts.

The firm has grown despite scandals — and with close relations to officials and politicians.

Movement through the “revolving door” between government and business has always gone along with the firm’s growth.

In 1998, Serco was around a 10th of its current size.

One of its first breakthroughs was a contract to run the Canadian Air Force’s Goose Bay base in the cold north of Newfoundland.

The privatisation was widely criticised as Serco slashed staff and wages, provoking a strike.

Serco was forced to negotiate with the angry workers when hungry bears overran the base, attracted by the rubbish that hadn’t been cleaned up thanks to the strike.

Goose Bay might have been a rocky start, but it got Serco a big purchase in the privatisation game.

And it came with one key appointment.

Questions in Canada’s parliament revealed that Mac Campbell, a former director general for Canada’s Department of Defence at Goose Bay had become a Serco manager.

Over the following 18 years Serco grew massively.

The firm now runs prisons, immigration detention centres, military bases and PFI hospitals among many other public services.

It has also run into scandals, like the prisoner tagging fake figures, the Cornish NHS failures and the grim state of Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

Serco made other key appointments on the way to success.

In 1998, when chasing defence contracts, it gave Air Marshal Sir Roger Austin, a former deputy chief of defence procurement, a job on its “Strategic Forum.”

Lord Filkin, a Labour junior minister in Education and the Home Office left government in 2005.

He became a Serco director in January 2006. Austin and Filkin have moved on, but the firm continued making key appointments.

Alan Cave was the “delivery director” of the Department for Work and Pensions in charge of the massive Work Programme for the unemployed.

In 2013 he left to join Serco — which had hundreds of millions of Work Programme contracts — as its “account director to the central government.”

Serco has also appointed other politically linked directors: Labour’s Baroness Ford, regarded as a friend of John Prescott, served as a Serco director from 2002-7.

Rupert Soames, a grandson of Churchill and brother of senior Tory MP Nicholas Soames, was made chairman and helped the firm get out from under the tagging scandal.

SOLOMON HUGHES asks why [British] government ministers are keeping their talks with disreputable outsourcing firm Serco a secret: here.

Serco mercenaries’ ill-treatment of refugees in Britain

This video from Australia says about itself:

Serco and DIAC deny refugee visits during convergence weekend

25 April 2013

Refugee Rights Action Network members who visit refugees in the Yongah Hill Detention Centre every week have been denied the right to visit during the weekend of the national convergence for refugee rights.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Council calls for refugee housing probe

Friday 19th February 2016

CAMPAIGNERS demanded an urgent probe yesterday into dehumanising treatment of asylum-seekers in Glasgow by housing profiteers.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) called on the Home Office to commission an independent investigation into claims of substandard housing and ill-treatment of refugees by Serco and its property ­management subcontractor Orchard and Shipman.

“These latest allegations ­follow recent concerning practices in Home Office-­contracted asylum accommodation such as the ‘red doors’ scandal in Middlesbrough and asylum-seekers required to wear coloured wristbands in Cardiff,” said SRC head John Wilkes.

An independent probe should cover the possibility of criminality, he said.

Serco private prison hell in New Zealand

This video from New Zealand says about itself:

24 July 2015

Patrick Gower and Lisa Owen lay out the timeline of the allegations at Mt Eden Prison and uncover more of Serco‘s shortfalls.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Inhumane conditions in privately run New Zealand prison

19 December 2015

The National Party government announced on December 9 that it will not renew the contract for UK-based company Serco to manage Auckland’s Mount Eden Prison when the contract expires in 2017.

The announcement followed months of revelations about the inhumane conditions at the remand prison. Since the government privatised management of Mt Eden in 2011, Serco has been served with 55 breach of contract notices for a wide range of issues, including understaffing, inadequate staff training and leaving dangerous items like razor blades in prisoners’ possession.

Video footage emerged in the media during July showing organised “fight clubs” among inmates and at least one Serco guard. There have been claims that guards also failed to stop beatings among prisoners.

Former prisoner Kevin Mussard is taking legal action against Serco, claiming it failed to prevent him being almost beaten to death. The family of Alex Littleton has also blamed Serco for not stopping an attack on him in February when he was allegedly thrown from a prison balcony and broke both his legs.

An Ombudsman’s report released this month revealed that under Serco’s management around 70 remand prisoners aged 16 to 19 were being confined to their cells 23 hours a day, apparently because staff cuts meant they could not be supervised. The report noted that prisoners’ conditions had worsened since a similar critical report in 2014. In April that year, the Ombudsman’s office warned against the practice of locking up teenage prisoners for 19 hours a day.

Such solitary confinement has been defined by the United Nations as inhuman and degrading punishment, which may sometimes amount to torture. Then corrections minister Sam Lotu-Iiga told Fairfax Media on December 3 that the practice was “unacceptable” but added: “That’s the nature of our prisons … they are hard places.”

In response to media coverage of the prisoner “fight clubs,” the Corrections Department took over the running of Mt Eden Prison in July. In a further attempt at damage control, this month Prime Minister John Key replaced Lotu-Iiga with Judith Collins as corrections minister.

Serco, however, will retain its 25-year contract to run Wiri Prison, which opened in May in South Auckland. Key told the media that Serco would also be allowed to “re-pitch or re-tender” for the Mt Eden contract in 2017. At her swearing-in on December 14, Collins declared that she had no regrets about awarding Serco the contract to run Mt Eden when she was previously corrections minister at the end of 2010.

The government is committed to private prisons as part of its austerity agenda, aimed at cutting costs and boosting corporate profits at the expense of working people. It is moving to sell off thousands of state houses, privatise more welfare services and expand for-profit charter schools.

For years the government covered up the unsafe and inhuman conditions at Mt Eden Prison. The Corrections Department issued no more than financial wrist slaps for Serco’s repeated breaches of prisoner safety. On April 1, Lotu-Iiga assured parliament that the prison had an “excellent” record, claiming “it is one of the highest-performing prisons in New Zealand.”

Serco has been implicated in human rights abuses elsewhere. Since 2009, the company has operated prison-like detention camps in Australia where asylum seekers are held indefinitely in atrocious conditions. There has been a litany of protests, hunger strikes, suicides and reports of abuse by detainees, including last month’s riot at the Christmas Island detention centre following the death of refugee Fazel Chegeni.

At the Serco-run Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in England, detainees have alleged verbal, physical and sexual abuse by staff, limited legal representation, scant access to interpreters and poor standards of health care.

New Zealand’s main opposition Labour and Green Parties called for the government to immediately sack Serco. Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis, posing as a champion of prisoners’ rights, told the media on December 9: “Private prisons just aren’t working. They haven’t worked overseas and they’re not working here … [Corrections Minister] Judith Collins brought [Serco] in and now she has to sort the mess out that she started.”

Such statements are profoundly hypocritical. For a start, the country’s first privately-run prison was Auckland Central Remand Prison, operated by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) from 2000 to 2005, during the Labour government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. Labour and its coalition partner, the “left wing” Alliance Party, agreed to honour ACM’s five-year contract to run the prison, signed by the previous National government in 1999. Legislation to ban private prisons was not passed until 2004.

While criticising the abuses at Mt Eden Prison, Labour agrees with National’s basic agenda of austerity and privatisation. It has made no pledge to renationalise power companies or social housing if it wins the 2017 election.

Successive governments have promoted hard-line “law and order” policies, including tougher jail sentences and increased police powers, to deal with the social tensions produced by the crisis of capitalism. The 1999–2008 Labour government opened four new prisons and oversaw a 36 percent increase in prisoner numbers, from 4,917 in 1999 to 7,771 by the end of 2007 (by the end of 2014 the figure reached 8,641). By 2006, New Zealand’s incarceration rate was one of the highest in the OECD, with 185 prisoners for every 100,000 people, more than double the rate in 1987.

Labour oversaw squalid and dangerous conditions in publicly-run prisons. An Ombudsman’s report from December 2005 found that prisons were struggling with soaring prisoner numbers. Many were kept in their cells with nothing to do for up to 15 hours a day. A report by the New Zealand Herald on February 28, 2006, noted that “as the nation’s prisons have filled to overflowing, police cells have been called in to hold surplus prisoners for days and sometimes weeks.”

The Herald reported that 95 percent of prisoners with drug and alcohol problems could receive no treatment in 2006 due to a lack of programs. It also pointed out that the 140-year-old Mt Eden Prison building was in a severe state of disrepair, with “sub-standard conditions for inmates (e.g. insufficient day light and day space)” and sewage flooding onto the exercise yard.

Conditions have worsened under National, which introduced double-bunking in some prisons in 2009 (installing bunks in cells intended for one person). A report on New Zealand by the United Nations Committee Against Torture, released in May, criticised overcrowding and inadequate health services for prisoners, the high number of assaults at Mount Eden, and the disproportionate rate of imprisonment among Maori.

British government imprisons raped refugee women, causing self-harm

This video from England says about itself:

Yarl’s Wood: Undercover in the secretive immigration detention centre | Channel 4 News

2 March 2015

The treatment of detainees inside the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre is revealed in exclusive footage obtained by a Channel 4 News investigation.

Warning: this film contains offensive language from the start.

[Quote from Serco mercenary guard at Yarl’s Wood prison]: ‘They’re all animals. Caged animals. Right? Take a stick in with you and beat them up.’

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Yarl’s Wood medics out weekly to treat self-harm

Saturday 4th July 2015

Attended cases feared to be ‘tip of the iceberg’ for imprisoned immigrant victims of torture and rape

SELF-HARM has become so prevalent at the infamous Yarl’s Wood immigrant removal facility that medics have to be called in at least once a week, the Home Office revealed yesterday.

Newly published figures show that in 2014 there were 61 incidents of self-harm which required medical treatment, while in 2013 there were 74.

However, the figures only cover those incidents in which medical attention was given, leading to concerns that they may only be the tip of the iceberg.

The revelation prompted warnings that immigration detention can cause mental illness and could lead to instances of self-harm among vulnerable inmates, many of whom have suffered torture or rape.

“What you have heard is true,” Ugandan detainee Juliette Akao told the Star by phone from Yarl’s Wood.

“The women here are very depressed and have many problems. Things like this happen every day. There is no proper healthcare or concern about what’s happening. The ladies have to help each other. The situation is very bad.”

Ms Akao, herself a victim of torture, rape and sexual abuse, said that a culture of disbelief that permeates the immigration system was a major problem.

“No-one believes you,” she said. “If you have gone through torture in your own life you think you are coming to a country that respects human rights. But this is an inhuman culture and people need to know what is happening.

“It is very sad that a country like this, which says it respects human rights and criticises others for abusing them, is doing exactly the same thing here.”

The removal centre, near Bedford, is run by profiteer Serco and houses nearly 400 people awaiting deportation, most of whom are women.

In March, Serco suspended two members of staff after a Channel 4 News investigation raised questions about standards of care at the centre, with one officer recorded saying: “Let them slash their wrists” and several others referring to detainees as “animals.”

Medical Justice sends volunteer doctors to see detainees and claims to have seen hundreds of cases of seriously inadequate healthcare.

“In many cases immigration detention exacerbates existing medical conditions and in some cases has been the cause of mental illness,” said co-ordinator Emma Ginn.

“There have been a number of fatalities including self-inflicted deaths and we fear that, with no improvement in conditions, there could be more.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said that women who had been sexually abused, tortured or were pregnant should not be detained and called for an “urgent review” of Yarl’s Wood.

“The government is overseeing the worst of all worlds in the asylum system — more people detained, and for longer, with fewer deportations,” she said.

“Too many women are left in a hellish limbo in detention centres.”

NEWS that conditions at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre have “deteriorated” over the past year to the point where almost half of the women held there fear for their safety will come as no surprise to those who have followed the case: here.

Demand grows for closure of UK’s Yarl’s Wood detention centre: here.