Two firms face charges over death of man in UK detention centre

Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent
Harmondsworth detention centre, where Fosu died. Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA

Two private firms will face criminal charges over the death of a man in a British immigration detention centre.

Prince Fosu was found dead on the concrete floor of his cell in Harmondsworth, west London, on 30 October 2012. Fosu, 31, was originally from Ghana. He was booked on a flight to leave Britain on 5 November that year.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced on Tuesday that GEO Group UK Ltd and Nestor Primecare Services Ltd would face prosecution under health and safety laws.

GEO ran Harmondsworth at the time while Nestor was responsible for the healthcare of those detained there.

Both companies are alleged to have breached section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, by failing to take reasonable care of health and safety. The maximum penalty on conviction is an unlimited fine.

The CPS said that Fosu had been in the immigration detention centre for six days before he died. He had been arrested after being found naked in the street. A check on his immigration status found he had overstayed his visa.

Kate Maynard, solicitor for Fosu’s family, said on Tuesday: “The death of Prince Kwabena Fosu is a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of those facing forced removal from the UK.

“Prince’s family welcomes the CPS decision to prosecute the private contractors who were responsible for Prince’s welfare while he was detained at Harmondsworth IRC [immigration removal centre] in October 2012.

“They look forward to hearing the testimony of staff, clinicians and managers as to how Prince was treated in their care, and understanding the circumstances in which he died.”

Deborah Coles of the campaigning group Inquest said: “We hope this trial will shine a spotlight on the closed world of immigration detention, the treatment and standards of care of detainees, staff training and culture.

“It will also afford much-needed scrutiny on the privatisation of detention services and how multinational companies are held to account when people die in their care.”

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