All Eyes on Capita—today we celebrate, tomorrow we keep organising.

Statement from the Abolish Reporting London campaign on Capita’s loss of the Electronic Monitoring Services contract

It has come to our attention that the Ministry of Justice has opted to not renew its previous contract with private outsourcing company Capita for electronic monitoring services (EMS) used by the Home Office, instead awarding a £200m contract to Serco. 

Over the past two years, the Abolish Reporting London campaign has been calling for an end to Capita’s EMS contract. We understand Capita’s loss of the contract to be a significant step towards our campaign’s ultimate goals of ending the Home Office’s use of EMS and other forms of surveillance under the hostile environment immigration policy, in favour of investing in the community support that migrants in Britain need.

Abolish Reporting London is a grassroots campaign calling for a world built on principles of care, not surveillance. We organise to abolish the inhumane immigration reporting conditions to which many migrants in Britain are subject. The Home Office has gradually expanded the immigration reporting regime to encompass not only physical reporting appointments and telephone reporting, but also digital forms of surveillance like 24/7 GPS ankle tags (via Capita’s EMS contract). 

Two years ago, we began to strategically target the lucrative GPS tagging partnership between Capita and the Home Office. We followed in the footsteps of other campaigns like Stop TUI and #StoptheFlights, which successfully pressured private companies to stop profiting from carrying out the Home Office’s cruel policies.

To this end, we organised multiple public exhibitions (Stop Watching Us!), workshops, and panels about reporting conditions, Capita, and GPS tracking, in order to educate and engage the public in resisting the spread of surveillance into our communities. We conducted extensive research into Capita’s contracts at the local authority level, launched a solidarity pledge for councillors, and created All Eyes on Capita! resources and actions for people to pressure their councils to divest from Capita. We took action outside Capita’s offices and even infiltrated Capita’s AGM to make it clear that we will never allow GPS tracking—or any form of invasive Home Office surveillance—to become normalised. 

Organising to end Capita’s GPS tagging contract demonstrated that when we build our power and direct our energy strategically, we define what is possible. We believe that public scrutiny and targeted pressure around Capita’s GPS tagging contract—from a range of sources, including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the National Audit Office, civil society, the Public Accounts Committee, our campaign, and the public—has forced a pivot in the way the government carries out this element of the hostile environment. 

We celebrate this moment as proof that no contract or contractor is forever, and that company by company, community by community, we can make GPS tagging and the hostile environment unimplementable and wholly unenforceable. As predicted, the EMS contract has now been awarded to a different company in the state’s web of outsourced cruelty: Serco. Serco’s damning track record of harm has already sparked ongoing resistance. So while we celebrate today, tomorrow we will keep organising. We reaffirm the importance of building strong relationships of solidarity to resist the hostile environment at every turn, no matter who carries it out.

As organisers, we are committed to carrying on the work of ending the Home Office’s use of EMS and other forms of surveillance as part of the immigration reporting regime and the wider hostile environment. By building power in our communities, we know that we can instead bring about a world that is built on care, not surveillance.

In addition to the Abolish Reporting campaign, Migrants Organise is part of a civil society coalition working to end GPS tracking in the immigration control system, and Capita’s role in enabling it. You can take action here and read a new report exposing Capita’s public contracts here.