Home Office worker suspended over abuse claims at immigration centre

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A Home Office employee has been suspended following claims of abuse and assaults against detainees at a G4S-run immigration centre.

Private security firm G4S said on Friday that nine members of its staff had been suspended pending an investigation into BBC Panorama allegations of "chaos, incompetence and abuse" at the Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, near Gatwick Airport, in West Sussex.

Now sources have confirmed that a Home Office worker has also been suspended while the allegations are investigated.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We condemn any actions that put the safety or dignity of immigration removal centre detainees at risk.

"We are clear that all detainees should be treated with dignity and respect and we expect G4S to carry out a thorough investigation into these allegations and that all appropriate action be taken."

Panorama claims to have undercover footage showing officers "mocking, abusing and even assaulting detainees" at the facility where drugs are allegedly "rife".

(Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

Brook House is one of two immigration centres run by G4S in the UK and has capacity for 508 adult men.

Concerns were raised in the latest inspection, which revealed that some men had been held there for more than two years and highlighted issues with the "stark and impersonal" residential units and unsatisfactory sanitary facilities.

But overall the report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke in March said it was an "encouraging" inspection.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. (PA)
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. (PA)

It is the latest in a number of scandals to hit the security company, which is also responsible for five prisons in England and Wales.

Panorama uncovered alleged abuse and mistreatment of youngsters at a G4S youth detention centre in Kent last year.

Medway Secure Training Centre was later judged inadequate by Ofsted inspectors, who found that young inmates were able to watch sexually-explicit content on television.

Another G4S facility, HMP Birmingham, was hit by riots in December 2016, some of the worst in a UK jail in years.

The Panorama episode is due to air on BBC One at 9pm on Monday.