Mobile phones of detainees confiscated on arrival
8th April 2011: Inconvenience and unnecessary costs are ringing in for immigration detainees at Tinsley House near Gatwick.
The mobile phones of the detainees are confiscated on arrival, forcing them in the process to rely on a network permitting monitoring. It also costs them more for essential calls.
The detainees rely on their mobile phones to get in touch with their legal representatives, family and even their MPs and the media. Once a pilot run at Tinsley House is extended, it may all change.
In fact, Global Comms & Consulting Ltd (GCC) has been given a contract to put up and operate a new telecoms network at the centre.
As of now, the detainees’ mobile phones are seized at the reception. In lieu, they are handed over a standard phone. Also provided to them is a card with £2.50 credit on it. They can top it up in units of 60p.
According to the Institute of Race Relations, GCC boss Martin Crook assured the IRR News that the costs of charges demonstrate pay-as-you-go mobile rates, at 10p a minute for domestic and 23p a minute for international calls.
The IRR news adds but there are concerns about the pricing structure. The 0800 and 0845 numbers, earlier free from landlines installed at the detention centre, will be charged, as the landlines at the centre were removed some time ago.
This will actually defeats the object of many support organisations providing the numbers for being used freely. To make the matters worse, although other phone cards can be used, there is an access charge of 25p a minute, says IRR news.
Concerns are also being expressed on the ability of staff to monitor calls under the new system.
The IRR News says though Crook assured them that they would not be permitted to listen in, it still is extremely worrying. And, what gives credence to the theory is the allegations of brutality and racism frequently surfacing about the immigration detention centres.
Some of the allegations include claims of detainees being locked in, as staff fled during the Yarl’s Wood fire in 2002.