30 October, 2010
It's the Jimmy Mubenga show
A decision to award the lucrative contract to a rival firm was announced today, two weeks after G4S guards were arrested by police investigating the death of an Angolan deportee at Heathrow.Ah, so the Guardian's fearless campaigning has done the trick, has it?
Tendering for the deportations contract began in September last year and the Home Office had identified Reliance as its "lead bidder" by August. The final decision to award the contract was confirmed yesterday [28 October].Perhaps not. HMG had already effectively decided to give the new contract to Reliance weeks before the unfortunate death of Mr Mubenga. Possibly for reasons of cost rather than performance.
Mind you, I'm inclined to share Rumbold at PP's scepticism on the likely improvement in the treatment of prisoners. I have never been happy with the delegation to the private sector of the state's regrettably necessary privilege of applying force and where necessary violence. I know people who have worked for Group 4 and people who have worked for Reliance and I see no reason for optimism, either in terms of the priorities of the management or, I have to say, the quality of the employees.
Restraint and coercion of unwilling and violent prisoners while minimizing the danger of injury to the prisoner, to the enforcing officers and to bystanders willing or (in the case of the passenger cabin of a commercial airliner) decidedly unwilling, is a highly-skilled task. The general performance and financial priorities of the commercial "security" firms do not encourage confidence here. Enforcement of deportation is essential: there is no point in threatening this sanction if we bottle it as soon as the deportee says, "Shan't!", but it should be done by properly trained Government officers and preferably not on scheduled airflights. Batch the buggers up and send 'em on special flights on properly equipped aircraft, possibly co-operatively with other European countries with similar problems.