Immigration detention centres. Not the nicest of places. The people in there are generally pennyless and have a big need to talk to solicitors and stuff.
So what does the ever so intelligent people who run the private companies think up for their detention centres? A new telephone system…
The trial at Tinsley House detention centre, near Gatwick airport, is run by Global Comms & Consulting Ltd (GCC), which specialises in secure telecommunications services to major government agencies and multinational companies. As a result, detainees will not be able to call free numbers and will pay significantly higher rates to call their family and solicitors. All calls will also be recorded, monitored and disrupted when necessary by the immigration authorities and/or the immigration prison’s management.
When a detainee arrives at the centre, they have their own phone taken from them and issued with one from the centre. These phones are described as ‘crap’ and cut out ‘after a few seconds’.
Along with the phone the detainee is also given a phone card…
Detainees will be given a Call4Five card when they are admitted in to detention. Call4Five, owned and operated by GCC, allows users to dial any UK or international number from any phone for “five precious minutes,” using a special code provided on a scratch voucher.
GCC claims its Call4Five cards are “a good deal.” However, a voucher of five minutes for international calls (10 for UK calls) costs £2.50 plus VAT. This works out at 60p and 30p per minute respectively, which is significantly more expensive than using pre-paid phone cards or even normal mobile phones.
The new system also means that detainees will be charged higher rates for dialling 0845 numbers and will not be able to call free 0800 numbers without buying credit, for example to use pre-paid phone cards provided by visitors groups or to call their solicitors and other support organisations that provide a free phone service for those who do not have credit on their phones.
What a lovely bunch of people run these services, eh?