Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Privatization: when corporations and government profit from human suffereing

So this is how privatization and contracting out of public services works.

Serco the operator of Australia's immigration detention centres, is paid nearly $400 million by the Federal Government to run immigration detention. But Serco breaches its contract so much that it has been fined $4.5 million for contract breaches over a 2 month period (November and December). Information suggests that Serco were fined $2 million dollars in November and $2.5 million in December for breaches that include poor practice, incompetence, inappropriate treatment of detainees, incidents in centres, and escapes.

But the Government refuses to release any detail of the breaches, citing commercial confidentiality.

As Antony Lowenstein points out  rather than demand that Serco improve the treatment of detainees, or even rescind Serco's contract for constant breaches, the Federal Government simply pockets the money Serco pays in fines.
The immigration department has fined the company that runs its detention centres for contract breaches, including a series of breakouts.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship contracts the UK-based Serco to run its detention centres. The latest contract – worth about $370 million – was signed in 2009.
“Under the contract between Serco and DIAC there are provisions for the imposition of fines and sanctions against Serco for lax practices or incompetence,” a DIAC spokesman said.
The fines reportedly exceeded $4 million, but the department has refused to reveal the figure.
“The details are commercial in confidence,” the spokesman said.
 Here is yet another example of Serco's incompetence. Just what is Serco's risk management strategy for managing a disturbance in detention centres? Call the Police.
This extract is from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Concerns whether NT Police would have the capacity to deal with a large-scale disturbance emerged on Friday, after it was announced late on Thursday that a new 1,500-bed detention facility would be developed at Wickham Point, on Darwin Harbour - opposite the CBD - to house single men.

The move, along with plans to almost double the bed capacity at the Darwin Airport Lodge Detention Centre, will take Darwin's immigration detention capacity to 2,900, eclipsing Christmas Island's 2,600 capacity.
NT Police Association president Vince Kelly told AAP he understood that Serco, the private security company that manages Australia's immigration detention centres, had no real plans to handle a major disturbance other than to telephone the police.

"It would seem that there has been no contemplation of the impacts this might have on the NT police, or about the capacity of NT Police to deal with a large-scale disturbance involving 1,500 people who are held in these facilities," he said.
"The safety of NT police officers is something that should be considered."

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