Geo Group UK

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The Geo Group UK was set up by Walter MacGowan and Colin Dobell between 2004 and 2005 as a subsidiary of the American private prison giant the Geo Group Inc. (For more details about the company's work in America, visit the SourceWatch[1] website.)

Geo Group UK won Home Office contracts to run Campsfield House IRC from May 2006 to May 2011, Harmondsworth IRC from June 2009 to September 2014, and Dungavel IRC from 2011 to 2016.


Centre Managers


In July 2011, Brian Dalrymple, a 35 year old American tourist, died from a ruptured aorta days after leaving Harmondsworth detention centre. The jury found that, “throughout Mr Dalrymple’s detention at Harmondsworth medical record keeping was shambolic” and said neglect contributed to his death. Geo made a “significant” settlement to the Dalrymple family.[2]

In February 2013, Alois Dvorzak, an 84 year old Canadian man, died shackled to a Geo security guard by a six foot chain. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said that Dvorzak's death was “a tragic indictment of the system”, which “is likely to have reached the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment.” The Ombudsman said that the privatised character of the immigration detention system might have led to the excessive use of handcuffs.[3]

Company history

According to journalist Clare Sambrook: “The GEO Group was spawned by The Wackenhut Corporation, founded by George R Wackenhut. A former FBI agent, Wackenhut started a three-man detective agency in Miami in 1954, providing security services to stay afloat, according to his 2005 obituary in the New York Times. To impress commercial clients, Wackenhut dressed his guards in helmets and paratrooper boots. He recruited former members of the CIA, the FBI and elite military forces to join his management team and the company's board, the New York Times reported.

The Wackenhut Corporation gathered intelligence on individuals, 'both to run background checks for their clients and as an outgrowth of George Wackenhut’s anti-communist views', according to the New York University Digital Archive that holds some of those papers. By 1971 Wackenhut held files on 2.5 million individuals.

The company recruited ex-FBI chief Clarence M. Kelley, ex-Secret Service James J. Rowley, Frank C. Carlucci, former defense secretary and former CIA deputy director, according to the New York Times. William J. Casey was Wackenhut's outside legal counsel before Ronald Reagan appointed him director of central intelligence. Such connections 'fuelled speculation that the company was working with the CIA, a relationship that Mr. Wackenhut denied'. ...

In 2002, on George Wackenhut's retirement, Group 4 Falck bought The Wackenhut Corporation, including a majority stake in its prisons business (the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation). The following year, the prisons business, headed by George Zoley, bought its shares back from Group 4 Falck, and relaunched itself as the GEO Group.

The Wackenhut Corporation remained in Group 4 Falck's hands as Group 4 merged with Securicor, creating G4S. In 2010 G4S dropped the Wackenhut name (it wasn't helpful). And The Wackenhut Corporation was born again — as G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc.”[4]


  1. GEO Group, SourceWatch
  2. GEO Group inquests, Corporate Watch
  3. Alois Dvorzak inquest day nine, Corporate Watch
  4. [ Man, 84, dies handcuffed in hospital: UK border control by the GEO Group], Clare Sambrook, accessed 9 November 2015.