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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 June, 2004, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
New Yarl's Wood concerns raised
by Nic Rigby
BBC News Online, Norwich

Yarl's Wood detention centre
Group 4 had sold its firm Global Solutions Ltd, which runs the centre
Concerns have been raised over the lack of government regulation of a new private firm which is to run Yarl's Wood detention centre from next month.

This follows news that Group 4 had sold its firm, Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), which runs the Bedfordshire centre for the Home Office.

Liberal Democrat Lord Avebury said the Home Office had little say on the deal.

He wants to make sure recommendations made in a recent report on the centre are implemented by the new firm.

Lord Avebury, a former Liberal spokesman on immigration who has an interest in prison issues, is concerned about the 29 recommendations put forward in a report by Prison Ombudsman Stephen Shaw.

The Home Office should have some say in the process, or evaluate it or impose conditions
Lord Avebury

He told BBC News Online new rules should be brought in to allow the Home Office to put forward conditions that new companies would have to meet if they wanted to take over running detention centres or prisons.

In this case the conditions would be imposed on Englefield Capital and Electra Partners Europe who bought GSL from Group 4.

"The Home Office should have some say in the process, or evaluate it or impose conditions," he said.

Lord Avebury said regulation may be required because although private finance deals may bring in good management experts, there had been "some cutting of corners" in the past, with thing being done "cheaply".

Control and restraint

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "Immigration officials are working with GSL to implement all the recommendations of the Prison Ombudsman's report."

He added: "The change of ownership of the contractor does not affect our contract with them or the way we monitor their obligations."

A spokesman for GSL said the implementation of the report was a Home Office issue and Englefield Capital was unavailable for comment on Friday.

A Prison Ombudsman's inquiry in May this year found allegations of racism and abusive language by some staff at Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire were substantiated.

Control and restraint techniques were more commonly used than at other centres, Mr Shaw said.

But he found no evidence that there was a culture of abuse, racism or violence at the facility.

Yarl's Wood concerns confirmed
30 Apr 04  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Yarl's Wood staff disciplined
16 Jan 04  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Yarl's Wood racism inquiry
12 Dec 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Immigration centre 'not safe'
29 Sep 03  |  London
Riot-hit asylum centre re-opens
28 Sep 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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