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The initial contract

  1. The initial Brook House contract was awarded to Global Solutions Ltd (GSL) in 2008.
  2. Bids were received from six private companies, including GSL and G4S. The bids were evaluated by teams from the Home Office in late 2007, based on the operational “quality” of each bid and also the commercial element or cost. The evaluation criteria provided that the weighting between these two elements would be 50:50.1 A small team of three Home Office staff was tasked with evaluating the bids from an operational perspective, on the basis that Brook House would admit and discharge 2,500 detained people each month.2 This involved an initial assessment, and then a final assessment following clarifications from bidders.3
  3. The assessment of the operational quality included a number of comments of note.

5.1GSL’s proposal for activities was described in the initial assessment as “extremely poor” and it was noted that “Welfare proposals provided a team of DCOs [Detention Custody Officers] without any clear leadership.4

5.2 Assessors recorded concerns about GSL’s proposal to reduce staffing levels significantly during lockdown hours.5 Only one bidder (Reliance) proposed adequate overnight staffing.6 In summary, the assessors recorded that all the other bidders’ overnight staffing levels “border on the unsafe”, and that an:

“ethos of cutting corners … was evident from much of what we read and we were especially disappointed at the extended lock down hours proposed … This appears to be a desperate attempt to reduce cost at the expense of welfare.”7

5.3 The lockdown period initially proposed by GSL was stated to be “excessive and not in keeping with the ethos of the rest of the estate”, with “no justification for such a lengthy period of non-association”.8 Mr Philip Schoenenberger, one of a team of three officials tasked with assessing the operational elements of the contractors’ bids in 2007, was asked by the Inquiry about IRCs being required to provide a secure but relaxed regime, with as much freedom of movement and association as possible. He accepted that there was an apparent contradiction between this and the bids, which involved nearly half the detained people’s time being spent in locked cells.9

5.4 The assessors considered that the initial GSL bid had “failed to provide a number of commitments including dealing with 2500 admissions and 2500 discharges each month”.8 This does not appear to have been resolved by the final assessment stage.10

The assessment concluded that a bidder named GEO offered “the best all round response”, although it noted that “the long lockdown period, which is shared with other bidders and tight staffing levels, remain a concern”.11

  1. A further group within the Home Office (called the Border and Immigration Agency at the time) then considered the operational and financial evaluations together. Taking both factors into account, the GSL bid was recommended. From a cost perspective, this bid was cheapest in terms of both start-up and annual costs.12
  2. It is concerning that proposals with such significant flaws in terms of “quality” led to the award of a contract to manage Brook House. Mr Schoenenberger told the Inquiry that the team did not consider the bids to be deficient, although they were “very concerned”. He said that by setting out those concerns in the assessment document, his team “did our best to make sure that people understood that this wasn’t what we thought was acceptable”.13 He was not aware whether there was any process for evaluators to find out how any concerns or comments raised at the proposal stage played out in real life, although he believed this should be done.14 If the proposals did not meet the statutory purpose of IRCs – to provide accommodation in a secure but relaxed regime with as much freedom of movement and association as possible, as set out in the Rules – they should have been rejected or at least returned to the bidder for fundamental adjustment.
  3. The Brook House tender was noted by the Home Office to have “delivered significant (35%) cost savings compared to the original budget”.15 While it is of course appropriate to consider issues such as cost-effectiveness during tendering, the Home Office’s budget allowed for a higher standard. Rather than using the budget to ensure that a suitable operational contract was in place, the primary motivator of the Home Office appeared to be cost-saving, with care and welfare sidelined.
  4. Mr Philip Riley, Director of Detention and Escorting Services (DES) within the Home Office, accepted that “scoring for costs and quality, 50-50” encouraged bidders “to put in a cost-efficient bid, because that drives down the cost and pushes up the score”.16 Mr Gordon Brockington, Managing Director of Justice and Government Chief Commercial Officer at G4S, noted that price was the central concern in such exercises

“the vast majority of government tendering, regardless of whether it says it’s 50:50 price:quality, it’s price, let’s face facts”.17

He told the Inquiry that, while this was true in 2007, there is now a “far bigger drive … for value for money and quality”.18 The Home Office has now “accepted that the bids at the time appeared to have done all they could to reduce costs against the required specification”.19

  1. The initial contract to operate, manage and maintain Brook House was awarded to GSL, from March 2009. In addition to provisions requiring compliance with the Rules, the Detention Services Operating Standards Manual and detention services orders, the contract included a lengthy list of high-level requirements set by the Home Office and, at Schedule D, specifications for how these requirements should be met.20
  2. In May 2008, G4S acquired GSL and therefore acquired its contract to manage Brook House.21 Mr Riley confirmed that G4S was expected to deliver the contract as agreed with GSL and not to impose its own (rejected) proposal.22


  1. DL0000140_044[]
  2. DL0000140_078-079[]
  3. Initial assessment: DL0000140_062-069; final assessment: DL0000140_070-079[]
  4. DL0000140_064[]
  5. DL0000140_064 []
  6. DL0000140_065-066[]
  7. DL0000140_069[]
  8. DL0000140_078[][]
  9. Philip Schoenenberger 23 March 2022 15/14-17/15[]
  10. DL0000140_070; DL0000140_078[]
  11. DL0000140_073[]
  12. DL0000140_047[]
  13. Philip Schoenenberger 23 March 2022 22/20-23/16[]
  14. Philip Schoenenberger 23 March 2022 31/21-32/15[]
  15. DL0000140_047-048[]
  16. Philip Riley 4 April 2022 49/1-3[]
  17. VER000225_010 para 121[]
  18. Gordon Brockington 31 March 2022 76/12-16[]
  19. HOM0332165 para 96; Philip Riley 4 April 2022 49/19[]
  20. Extracts at HOM000798_001; HOM000798_079-080; HOM000798_084-086; HOM000798_146; HOM000798_148; HOM000916_040; HOM000916_180; HOM000916_199; see also DL0000175_01 paras 1.7-1.11[]
  21. DL0000141_023 para 68. G4S also acquired the contract to run Tinsley House, another IRC nearby that had been opened in 1996 (CJS0073709_053 para 5.2). The two IRCs are referred to collectively as Gatwick IRCs, and, although subject to separate contracts with the Home Office, were run with one Senior Management Team across both (CJS0072810_002[]
  22. Philip Riley 4 April 2022 38/22-25, 41/10-19[]