‘They called us dogs’: Samim Bigzad describes alleged abuse at G4S immigration detention centre

G4S guards at a notorious immigration detention centre continued to abuse inmates despite pledges to take action after undercover footage exposed mistreatment, it has been claimed.

Samim Bigzad, an asylum seeker who was kept at Brook House before being deported to Afghanistan earlier this month, said he met suicidal people and saw drugs being smuggled into the centre near Gatwick airport.

“It’s a dangerous place, there are dangerous people,” he told The Independent. 

“I would ask people why they were there, and they would say they had been in prison – some of them for robbing a bank or drug dealing.”

Mr Bigzad said he saw detainees receiving drugs inside the centre, near Gatwick, and some operating “like a gang” while others were left suicidal by their experience.

“I saw some people who wanted to kill themselves,” he added, describing people frequently being restrained by guards.

The Afghan asylum seeker claimed one G4S guard told him “f*** off, get out of my face” after he asked for toilet paper, and another ordered detainees back to their cells by saying: “Go to your rooms, dogs.”

G4S accused of ‘culture of intimidation’ against asylum seekers

He was detained at Brook House from 26 August, when a Turkish Airlines pilot thwarted the Home Office’s first attempt to deport him, to 12 September, when he was removed from the UK.

Mr Bigzad was returned five days later after a terrifying ordeal in Kabul, with High Court judges ordering the Home Office to transport him back to the UK pending a judicial review.

The 23-year-old, who said he fled Afghanistan in 2015 after being threatened with beheading by the Taliban, is among the vulnerable asylum seekers detained in Brook House alongside foreign offenders, who now make up around half of inmates.

One of two immigration centres run by G4S in the UK, it has capacity for 508 men. Brook House was designed to hold up people for 72 hours ahead of deportation but some people have been detained there for almost two years. 

Conditions inside the centre were exposed by undercover footage broadcast by the BBC’s Panorama earlier this month, showing detainees being abused and humiliated while self-harming and taking drugs.

G4S director for Brook House, Ben Saunders, has resigned over the scandal, while three staff members have so far been dismissed and seven remain suspended.

The security firm launched an inquiry following the programme on 4 September,…

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