G4S is to be awarded a Government contract to provide welfare services to children and families imprisoned in a new family detention unit at Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre, according to media reports.
The news follows the closure of Cedars, a controversial specialist detention unit used to detain children and families awaiting removal from the country.
Children’s charity Barnardo’s had previously been providing welfare services to families detained at Cedars, but refused to continue its work at Tinsley House because it didn’t believe the move was in the best interests of children.
G4S is currently responsible for running a number of immigration detention centres as well as providing accommodation for people seeking asylum in Britain. The scandal plagued company was recently slammed by the Home Affairs Select Committee for providing ‘disgraceful’ standards of asylum accommodation.
In 2010, the Coalition Government promised to end the detention of children for immigration purposes after overwhelming evidence demonstrated that it causes children physical and physiological harm.
Yet despite this promise, children are still being locked up. In the first nine months of last year, 68 children were put behind bars. Three quarters of them were later released, rendering their detention not only harmful but futile.
Refugee Council Director of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “It’s as telling as it is worrying that no children’s organisations will be looking out for the well being of the families who will be imprisoned at Tinsley House.
“It’s unacceptable that the Government is choosing to put children and their families behind bars, out of sight of the public and out of reach of children’s professionals. If the Government really was serious about protecting children’s welfare then it would live up to its promise to end child detention once and for all.”
The new unit at Tinsley House is due to open by May.