John Grayson – Asylum Housing Rights in Asylum Markets – the campaign against G4S


Event Date: 30 April 2014
The Institute of Advanced Study
Millburn House
Millburn Hill Road
University of Warwick Science Park

The Kent Law School presents:

The Public Life of Private Law

An ESRC Seminar Series

Seminar 4: Protest, Precarisation, Possibility

Increasingly, private law appears in the the government of unruly political movement and resistance – through the privatisation of public space and the designation of protest as trespass; through the contractualisation of public services and the discipline of labour; through the generation of private spheres where government power is deployed in unanticipated ways.  How should we characterise the experience of government through private law? What vulnerabilities does  private law highlight in those it governs? To what extent does private law confer overlooked capacities on troublesome actors, which can generate new strategies of resistance?

John GraysonAsylum Housing Rights in Asylum Markets – the campaign against G4S

This paper will consider the lessons for campaigners and those interested in the state of abjection (see Tyler 2013) forced upon refugees whilst waiting on asylum claims in “asylum housing”. The paper will outline and analyse a campaign mounted in January 2012 (and still ongoing) to prevent and then disrupt the privatisation of asylum housing by the international security company G4S in the Yorkshire and North East regions.

The campaign mobilised a network of academics, asylum rights activists, tenants and residents organisations and refugees and asylum housing tenants to proactively monitor the COMPASS asylum housing contract. The process of “Transition” from local authority to G4S run contract was monitored in conjunction with PIL (Public Interest Lawyers) and the academics involved in the Notog4s network included academic housing lawyers.
The campaign was forged as a solidarity (see Featherstone 2012) campaign alongside and not “for” asylum housing tenants and their families. Activist research and independent news outlets gave a voice to asylum seekers who refused to be intimidated either by the coercive policies of G4S subcontracting landlords or the Home Office. A large number of campaign evidenced articles were published at the G4S portal on the website and between January 2012 and October 2013 around 80,000 reads were recorded for the asylum housing articles.
The evidence from asylum housing tenants was regularly fed to sympathetic members of the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee. Reports containing detailed cases were sent to a parliamentary inquiry into children and asylum support, and were the basis for major investigations and reports by the Home Affairs committee (June 2013) and the Public Accounts Committee (February 2014)
The campaign throughout was on a twin track – to expose the “monstrous” asylum support system (see Webber 2012) and to expose G4S as a serial abuser of human rights and to remove them from the contracts.

References: Featherstone D. (2012) Solidarity; hidden histories and geographies of internationalism London: Zed Books; Tyler I (2013) Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain London: Zed Books; Webber F (2012) Borderline Justice: the fight for refugee and migrant rights London: Pluto


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