G4S and the vexatious vacationers

G4S and the vexatious vacationers

The BBC has been excited today by a report that “more than 700 complaints” were made by illegal immigrants against G4S, a company which polices immigration removal centres. Shock, horror, UN resolution, send in the warplanes.

But the story deflates with a faintly unpleasant odour as soon as you begin to examine it. The angel is in the details.

There were 773 complaints – “240 more than during the previous year”. (Where ARE those warplanes?) However:

Nearly 640 of the cases were found to be wholly unsubstantiated

Of the just under 130 cases that were wholly or partly upheld, most were about lost property or “poor communication” – very minor offences by any standard, and the fault may not all be on one side

Only three of the 48 assault claims were substantiated, and again one might guess that the fault may not always be on one side. No doubt some detainees put up spirited resistance to being placed aboard a plane that they do not wish to board, and if one was a security guard being kicked, punched, bitten or spat on, perhaps even the saintliest of us might become slightly peeved.

Only two complaints of “racism” were even partly substantiated. We are not told the details, but “racism” is of course a slippery concept, so we should be wary about taking these at face value

Reporting alleged abuses has recently been made simpler so there has been a rise in reported incidents

However, the number of genuine complaints has fallen over the last three years

Around 65,000 detainees passed through the three centres concerned during those three years, so the total number of complaints is small.

All the complainants were of course illegal immigrants. Over 50% of the complaints emanated from one centre, which houses convicted criminals – arguably not the most credible complainants.

We have here a perfect “race” storm – vexatious complaints from people who should not be in the UK anyway, a vexatious Freedom of Information Act request for this information from someone who wanted to stir up trouble and journalists trying to fill a space quickly and with minimal effort. Utterly inconsequential as all this is, stories of this kind if unchallenged can pass into myth (or eventually even legislation). Derek Turner, 17 June 2011



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