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Private contractors paid millions to run UK detention centres

The British government has paid hundreds of millions of pounds to private contractors to run its detention facilities, but no one knows for certain just how profitable the industry is. “One of the 10 UK facilities is run by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, but the rest are contracted out to outsourcing firms G4S, Mitie, Serco and the US-owned GEO Group. (…) Commercial confidentiality agreements mean the Home Office and outsourcing companies are not obliged to publish detailed financial information about immigration detention centers in the UK. But figures released under freedom of information laws and published on the government’s Contracts Finder website show the value of some contracts when they were awarded. (…) The profitability of detention facilities has proved to be a contentious issue for the contractors. A Guardian investigation last year pointed to a 20.7% profit margin at the G4S-owned Brook House in 2016, while at Tinsley House the margin was 41.5%. (…) GEO Group, which operates Dungavel House, Scotland’s only detention center, may be making up to 30% profits on its contract, according to an analysis by Corporate Watch.”

Inside look at the “failure of privatization"

Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), provides an inside look at the “failure of privatization of our 10 railways, prisons and other public services in the ASLEF Journal. “The POA has consistently opposed budget cuts and the privatization of not just prisons but our utilities such as gas, water and electricity, along with our railways and NHS,” Gillan writes, “because successive governments have not cared about the consequences of cuts and have had an obsession with private enterprise over public services which, in real terms, is always a race to the bottom.”

Scrapping plans to build new private prisons

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Richard Burgon has set out his party’s position on tackling the prisons crisis, calling on the government to fund a five point plan, including scrapping plans to build new private prisons. “In the case of HMP Birmingham, the jail was taken out of the hands of its private operator, G4S, and returned to state control for at least six months as officials battle to reduce violence, drug use and disorder.”

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