On Monday 14 January 2008, the trial will begin of four men facing charges in connection with a disturbance at Harmondsworth removal centre in west London in November 2006.
Harmondsworth is run by private company Kalyx, a subsidiary of Sodexho. The disturbance is said to have occurred after guards, allegedly, stopped detainees at the centre from watching TV news reports on a critical Chief Inspector of Prisons’ report into the centre. The report, of an unannounced inspection of the removal centre had found: ‘Poor relationships [at the centre], which were worse than any we have seen elsewhere, [attributed] at least in part to the centre management’s over-emphasis on physical security and control … more appropriate to a high security prison than a removal centre.’
An investigation by Liberty, into treatment of detainees following the disturbance, found that detainees were forced to go without food and water (some for over 40 hours), they were locked in severely overcrowded cells, in squalid and dangerous conditions (some for 24 hours) and allegations were made that detainees were locked in shower rooms and toilets during the disturbance.