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privateer 'lacks humanity' but wants probation

Firm bids for sold-off service despite being slammed by prison watchdog

A privateer accused yesterday of lacking basic humanity is in the running to scoop lucrative contracts as ministers flog off the probation service.

HM Inspectorates of Prisons uncovered an appalling litany of failing at Geo Group-run Harmondsworth immigration removal centre.

Among the most alarming documented incidents was the death of an 84-year-old immigration detainee with dementia after he was taken to hospital in handcuffs.

The Canadian national, believed to be Alois Dvorzac, spent three weeks at Harmondsworth despite doctors saying he was unfit for detention.

His death is one of a number of "shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost," HMIP said in its report on an unannounced visit last August.

Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon asked: "Have the authorities responsible for Harmondsworth forgotten the basic principles of humanity and decency that must apply to any form of custody?"

Geo, a British subsidiary of the US group of the same name, also runs Dungavel House immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire.

The firm, which has been dogged by allegations of abuse, mistreatment and fraud, runs an estimated 96 facilities and provides services to the US concentration camp Guantanamo Bay.

But the Ministry of Justice announced in December that Geo Group UK and Geo Delta were among the firms which had made it through to the next round of bidding on the spoils of the government's selloff of 70 per cent of probation services.

Probation union Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: "Yet again we are hearing another private contractor's failure to meet the requirements of their contract and it is the people they are charged with looking after that are suffering.

"The very idea that these companies should be in charge of monitoring and rehabilitating offenders in the community is ludicrous and dangerous.

"The public need to start asking this government why they insist on putting costs cuts before public safety."

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