The real cost of outsourcing asylum seeker care is more pain

How unsurprising. Shocking cases of mistreatment in Britain’s detention system, most of which are run by private companies, such as Serco. But let’s not have a robust debate about whether multinationals should be managing people coming from torture and trauma:

Millions of pounds in compensation is being paid to migrants who have been traumatised after being locked up in detention centres across the UK, the Guardian has learned.

Government figures show …£12m in “special payments” – including compensation – for 2009/10 and a further …£3m the year before.

The Home Office said it did not record the proportion of special payments made in compensation, but officials accepted that the figure over the past three years ran to millions of pounds.

Lawyers who are acting for detainees said there was an “epidemic of mistreatment” in the asylum system.

Harriet Wistrich, of Birnberg Peirce, said there was a “systemic failure” to protect torture victims who came to the UK seeking refuge. “It is nothing short of scandalous that we are causing serious harm by detaining people, sometimes for long periods of time, who have done nothing other than seek a place of sanctuary from the horrors they have escaped from, in the mistaken belief that Britain is a just and tolerant society.”

In another case, in June this year, a woman from west Africa, who was locked up for a month in 2006 at [Serco’s] Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Bedfordshire, was awarded a …£57,000 payout. In his ruling the judge said there had been a “grave failure” on the part of the Home Office. “A true punishment of the Home Office to reflect the gravity of the situation would run into sums far in excess of those which the court is legally authorised to award,” he said.

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