Children’s charity Barnardo’s has been handling the welfare support received by immigrant families facing deportation. However, the Home Office is set to make an official announcement that this support will now be handled by private security contractor G4S.
G4S has faced much criticism in the past, but the Home Office believes that the Tier 1 security contractor has the necessary skills to manage the same main aspects of welfare support that have been provided by Barnardo’s.
The decision by the Home Office has already raised concerns, with former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg stating that using G4S to manage the welfare would put children at risk. Clegg was instrumental in ensuring that children were not detained in centres.
The previous immigrant detention centre, Cedars, was located close to Gatwick. This centre has now shut its doors and a new centre has opened up at nearby Tinsley House immigrant deportation centre. This new facility is self-contained and will begin operations in May. G4S has been awarded the contract to run the facility for three years, but the contract period can be extended to five years.
G4S will be responsible for providing support to families and children while they wait to be deported. The private security contractor will also be responsible for preparing the families to come to terms with their deportation and assist them in making plans for their resettlement.
Clegg criticised the Government, stating that charities have already pointed out that Tinsley House is not conducive for children. The prison-like environment would adversely affect the emotional wellbeing of children and is physically unsafe for them.
However, Home Office minister Susan Williams insisted that the main elements of the welfare support provided to detained families would stay the same even though the service provider has been changed.