Tuesday 17 September 2019

Serco awarded extended contract for controversial Australian detention centre

The outsourcing business has now worked with the Australian government for 10 years.

Serco has won a two-year extension to its contract with the Australian government to process asylum seekers (Ian Nicholson/PA)
Serco has won a two-year extension to its contract with the Australian government to process asylum seekers (Ian Nicholson/PA)

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

Outsourcing giant Serco has been given a two-year extension to its contract with the Australian government to monitor and run detention facilities in the country.

The agreement means the British firm will have worked with the country’s government for 12 years when the new contract ends in December 2021, and could be extended by a further two years to 2023.

Full details of the contract were not revealed, with bosses saying final points were still being discussed.

These include accommodation, transport and escort, access control, induction, welfare, education programmes and activities, catering, incident management, and property and facilities management Serco's responsibilities in Australian detention centres

The company said: “Serco provide services to the onshore immigration detention network in Australian states and territories, including Christmas Island.

“These include accommodation, transport and escort, access control, induction, welfare, education programmes and activities, catering, incident management, and property and facilities management.”

The Christmas Island Detention Centre has been fiercely criticised by campaigners over harsh treatment of asylum seekers, which has led to riots among inmates.

It was closed in October 2018 as laws were passed to make it easier for those in detention to seek medical help on Australia’s mainland.

But it reopened in February this year, leading to farcical scenes in April when 140 Serco workers were sent to man the centre, despite there being no asylum seekers on the island.

Serco has also had success with new contracts in the UK, winning a £1.9 billion deal to manage 5,000 properties occupied by asylum seekers awaiting decisions on whether their application for refugee status has been approved.

The win comes despite Serco also being fined £19.2 million plus £3.7 million in costs over an electronic tagging scandal in which the company admitted defrauding the public between 2010 and 2013.

Bosses at the time were charging taxpayers to monitor prisoners who were either dead, still locked up or had left the UK.

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