Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has attacked private security firm G4S, after newspaper reports that the company painted the doors of houses in Middlesbrough to identify where asylum seekers were living.
Mr Carmichael praised the work of Liberal Democrat councillors in the area who raised the issue as far back as 2012, and were told by G4S that no complaints had been received and they had no intention to change the policy. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael urged the Government to take immediate action to rectify this unsavoury situation.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael said:
It is my understanding that concerns about this practice of painting doors red were first raised in 2012 by my Liberal Democrat colleague and then Middlesbrough councillor, Suzanne Fletcher. She has pursued the issue doggedly ever since, and it is largely due to her efforts that the matter has now come to light today. She was told by G4S that it had received no complaints, so there was no need to take any action. That could manifestly not be the case, and does it not raise in the Minister’s mind at least a suspicion that an audit is somewhat less than what is required? Yet again G4S has come to public attention for all the wrong reasons, and yet again it has been found wanting.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire:
I discussed with the chief executive this morning the issue of complaints and when the matter was first made known to G4S. It is a matter that he has committed to examine further to get to the bottom of how G4S handled the issue for its own satisfaction. It is a question of doing the audit I have commissioned urgently to see the situation on the ground and understand how the inspection and audit regime has been conducted thus far. I will obviously want to reflect on what that tells me.
Commenting afterwards, Mr Carmichael said:
“I would not have been the only person to be deeply concerned by the actions of G4S in Middlesbrough as reported in The Times newspaper. It is utterly unacceptable for asylum seekers to be treated in this way. Painting the doors of those who are seeking asylum in order to ‘mark’ them when they have come to this country to seek peace and sanctuary is completely disgraceful. Such actions expose them to threats and violence, and, according to local MPs speaking in Parliament, this has been occurring.
“This is not the first time G4S have found themselves in the headlines for the wrong reason, and it is time the Government get a grip of this organisation. Questions must be asked about why they are contracted out for such sensitive public sensitive. I know that Liberal Democrats in the north east of England have been campaigning for this practice to be abolished for a number of years. Now it has received wider attention the Government must move quickly to end it.
“The debate about asylum seekers in this country is getting more and more poisonous and divisive. Actions like this by G4S help to create that attitude of suspicion towards those seeking legitimate sanctuary.”