February 15, 2012 by Chris Craddock
South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Seekers (SYMAAG) Group held a protest outside Sheffield City Hall today over plans to award the council’s asylum seekers’ housing contract to private firm, G4S.
The protesters then moved onto the Headquarters of the UK Border Control to hand in a sign petition expressing outrage that this decision was being considered.
Questionable track record
Those at the protest point to the questionable record of the G4S, the world’s largest private security firm in the world. This company has already won contracts to assist with the safety of the Olympics and runs private prisons around the world. But it has a bad reputation for its treatment of asylum seekers who live under their care.
G4S manages three removal centres and until recently escorted detainees who were being deported but received over 700 complaints in 2010. These mainly focused on issues of the quality of the service rather than anything more serious but there were claims of both racism and violence.
Over 500 Asylum Seekers in South Yorkshire face eviction
If G4S is given the contract as planned on February 29th then over 500 asylum seekers could be evicted and many feel intimidated and threatened by the mere prospect of G4S becoming their managing landlords. The SYMAAG argue that they are not landlords but a security force which will effectively turn the housing into another detention centre.
G4S’ motive will never be the interests of the asylum seekers but instead firmly focused on its profit margins and this will tarnish the reputation the country and Sheffield city’s reputation of being a safe place where those seeking refuge to go to.
The move comes under this climate of austerity as councils in particular struggling with the council tax freeze and private firms like G4S offer simple and cheap solutions to complex and expensive problems. Protesters also feel this move could is motivated by other reasons.
Many spoke of the government’s desire to get rid of these asylum seekers and saw G4S as their way of bullying them out of the country.