The Crown Prosecution Service & the Hostile Environment

The Crown Prosecution Service has a unique, direct official role in regard to crime-related prosecutions in the UK (Source:

An independent entity the CPS has nevertheless been, understandably perceived by Hostile Environment victims — and family members and friends of the victims of the more brutal aspects of the Hostile Environment, that however dressed up involve at the very least manslaughter (even murders) in detention centre settings and deaths in home countries after illegal and legally questionable deportations, as well as torture, psychological cruelty as well as breaking of laws including provisions of Acts of Parliament (Equality Act 2010 legal obligations and prohibitions, particularly), Human Rights law protections, and much else – human rights specialists, and many in the legal profession, as at best ineffective in regard to Hostile environment crimes/perceived crimes, at worst non-independent and complicit in the latter. 

Mindful of the deep very extensive race relations harm caused by the architects and implementing entities and agencies of the Hostile Environment in many areas of its implementation at operational level the impact of, to use two major very relevant examples, torture (Government inspections whose reports are referred to and cited in this information resource confirming this abomination), manslaughter/deaths in immigration detention centres of often illegally detained asylum seekers and others, have led to questions – why are those responsible either not prosecuted, or if they are, to no effect. 

This is the area where the CPS has been caught up, in the to-date, harm to its good name and assertions of independence of any state-related legal and human rights controversial phenomena such as the Hostile Environment.  

The treatment by the CPS of the Prince Fosu death in a UK immigration detention centre has crystallised this reputation issue for the CPS, and as the details on the final part of this page CPS response has only confirmed the fears that either this very important entity’s independence is compromised or that it is careless and not competent on the major race relations issues the Hostile Environment has caused to be revealed around prosecutions.

CPS criticised as charges dropped over death of man in UK detention camp — Prince Fosu, 31, was found dead in his cell in an immigration centre in west London in 2012

‘… Last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that charges should be brought over the death of Prince Fosu, whose naked body was found on the concrete floor of his cell in Harmondsworth, west London, on 30 October 2012.

On Tuesday, the CPS announced that it was reversing its decision, saying that it did not believe it could secure convictions. The news came on the sixth anniversary of Fosu’s death.

Charges under health and safety laws were dropped against GEO Group UK Ltd and Nestor Primecare Services Ltd. GEO ran Harmondsworth at the time, while Nestor was responsible for the healthcare of those detained there. Both companies are alleged to have breached section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to take reasonable care of health and safety.

Fosu, 31, was from Ghana. He was booked on a flight to leave Britain on 5 November 2012. He had been in the immigration detention centre for six days before he died. He had been arrested after being found naked in the street. A check on his immigration status found that he had overstayed his visa.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep all cases under continuing review. Following a review of the evidence in this case, we considered the challenges in bringing a prosecution were greater than we had previously assessed and concluded the case should not continue. Our thoughts remain with the family of Prince Kwabena Fosu.”

Fosu’s father, who did not wish to be named, said: “For a bereaved family, it is difficult to understand why there is such delay in the criminal decision-making process. We are just told that it is normal.

“How can I now explain to the wider family on the anniversary of Prince’s death that we have got nowhere in six years? How can I explain why the prosecution decision has been reversed? How can it be acceptable to treat a bereaved family this way? This is not justice.”

The campaign group Inquest said Prince, who was suffering from mental ill health, was held for six days in unsanitary conditions, without any clothing or bedding or a mattress. “It is thought that Prince went into sickle cell crisis and died on the floor of his cell,” the group said.

Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest, said: “We had hoped this trial would shine a spotlight on the inhumane treatment of Prince, who died naked on the concrete floor of his cell. On the sixth anniversary of Prince’s death, this is a reprehensible step backwards by the CPS.

 “Recent months have seen the highest number of deaths of immigration detainees on record. The culture of impunity for private companies and the Home Office, in the face of well-documented ill treatment of detainees, is shameful.

Kate Maynard, a solicitor, said: “The CPS is clearly a failing and arrogant institution if they think that the management of this case has been acceptable. This case illustrates the systemic delay for decision-making in death in custody cases. To take four years to review a case, announcing that there will be a prosecution, and then reversing that decision 18 months later, is dysfunctional. A culture change is required within the CPS to fix the way it operates so that bereaved families receive a decent, efficient and humane service.”


Towards the end of 2018 a representation on the race relations and CPS independence/or non-independence of the Home Office & coterie of associated Hostile Environment operational level implementing agencies and for-profit businesses such as GEO Group UK Ltd and Nestor Primecare Services Ltd at the Harmondsworth deportation centre, issues the death of Mr Fosu and subsequent long drawn out and then dropped prosecution case by the CPS, raised for the Crown Prosecution Service.  

This representation was raised formally with the Chief Crown Prosecutor of one of the CPS regions, via a member of the Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel of the given CPS region, with the specific request that the representation be formally raised and a request for a response secured from the UK Chief Crown Prosecutor (lead of National level CPS).  Below are the key excerpts from the second letter (May 2019) received back from the given region’s Chief Crown Prosecutor:


2 May 2019

… I am pleased to read that you found the extensive details included in my last letter (dated 8 March 2019) most helpful and I note that you question whether I responded in relation to whether the case involving the death of Mr. Fosu was heard at a Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel.   I did mention that the case did not involve any allegation of a hate crime but to clarify, as far as I am aware the case was not heard at a Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel, nor would I have expected it to be*.  Cases of this nature are dealt with by specialist prosecutors in the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, and would not feature in the normal scrutiny panels which operate outside of the specialist Casework Divisions in CPS Headquarters*. 

In relation to the recommendations you have made, I am afraid that I will not be able to take these forward**.   I have already ensured that my relevant senior colleagues in the CPS Operations Directorate are fully cited on your concerns, and as I mentioned previously, they were extremely helpful in providing me with information that I could share with you in my last letter.   Of course, this does not prevent you from raising awareness of these matters personally with whomever you wish***. …

… .    I hope that the information I have provided in both of my letters to you will help you to inform others of the high regard we keep our independence and that any suggestion that the CPS has no interest in race relations or matters which effect any of our communities is wholly unfounded****.

In relation to data collection, we do not record the employment history of any suspects or defendants*****.   In the vast majority of cases, it will not be relevant to any decision about whether there is evidence of criminal activity.   Whilst I appreciate this might not provide you with the answer that you had hoped, there is nothing further I can add to this issue******.

… Chief Crown Prosecutor


Regarding the representation points made to the CPS, these were:

  • That the significance of the history of the treatment of the Prince Fosu case and the final decision, years later, to drop the prosecution altogether relates to whether or not the CPS has or has not any awareness of the scale and seriousness of the UK race relations issues involved.  This specifically in regard to the harm the Hostile Environment is causing as almost all ethnic minorities in the UK (those prior to Brexit, who are not derived from EU member nations: essentially the Commonwealth nations in particular) particularly through revelations of deaths and torture in UK Immigration detention centres & illegal deportations. 
  • Secondly, how many or have there ever been successful prosecutions of individuals/employees of agencies and businesses providing UK Immigration Hostile Environment era delivery services [particularly the detention centres – deportation continuum services where deaths and revelations of torture have occurred].  By extension it was also asked what data the CPS had on bringing prosecutions or being asked to bring such prosecutions irrespective of prosecution outcomes.

Context to the two questions:

This is given eloquently in the Guardian article conclusions by the father of Mr Prince Fosu, by the Director of Inquest, and by solicitor Ms Kate Maynard.  The two representation questions were an opportunity for the CPS to disavow those conclusions, demonstrate why they were mistaken, and what they had done/are doing at strategic & policy level to counteract such perceptions.  In regard to the CPS ‘Hate Crime Panel’ dimension, a sub-question was asked – had the CPS region in which the Prince Fosu case/dropped-failed prosecution took place, had its Hate Crime Panel consider the race relations significance of the case for the CPS reputation in ethnic minority communities?  If not, by inference, what could in such a clear-cut race relations and perceived race-based cruelty and perceived manslaughter case, be the purpose of such panels (crucial for the race relations sensitivity credentials of the CPS) as fit for purpose?

Analysis of the CPS regional Chief Crown Prosecutor response on behalf of national CPS and the UK Chief Crown Prosecutor:

* This response information is significant and truly revelatory, as it has revealed that intelligence services input is active in the CPS in such a sensitive race relations and accountability area. It would be valuable to know which senior Whitehall officers and doubtless MI5 leads have set the activity parameters and powers for the Specialist Casework Divisions in the CPS Headquarters which relate to this CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division.  The question, it is reminded, focused on a death and indeed a slow cruel lingering death in an Immigration Detention Centre, and particularly negative race relations PR/CPS reputation impacts; with their many  specialist skills strengths those referred  to in the letter clearly do not have a remit, or sufficient experience to cover PR in regard to race relations, such as this tragic case has thrown up so strongly in the eyes of our BME/diverse communities.

** The requests were actions for the CPS to provide response on making changes if the responses to the representation questions came back as negative reflections on the CPS regarding addressing the prosecution issue of Hostile Environment implementing agencies employees, for remedying the race relations harm the non-action status quo has been causing.  The CPS sadly in this sentence indicated the latter does not matter.

*** It had been hoped that this had not been necessary and that the CPS had been sufficiently aware of the implications on its good name, resulting from a non-review/non-action response.  The Guardian news article above illustrates so well the disastrous impact taking the latter response has been having.

**** The response has only deepened and considerably amplified the concerns on non-independence and/or revealed de-facto political and race relations indifference or wont of related sensitivity. Non-action has only made clear that the CPS is not acting in terms of prosecuting or serious about considering prosecuting those involved in perceived manslaughter (even potentially, murder) and torture in these settings. The implication is that under some type of multi-agency liaisons at very high levels in the CPS, MoJ and the Home Office, decisions have been made, possibly through some form of provision within an Operating Mandate, to so to speak, kill off or not pursue such persecutions.  This, because if the CPS were to function fully independently, very soon this key area of Hostile Environment implementation would collapse as those carrying out such wilful neglect or worse in the detention centres, and up to and including their managers and ultimately the businesses and agencies leads would fear prosecution, potential imprisonment, and certainly loss of their sources of income and of course directly gain infamous names.  These are the considerations that have clearly caused the CPS to be asked not to operate normally in this area, and why the cost of their choice of conduct/policy has had the repercussion of great harm to the name of the CPS itself.

***** This is an extremely important and incredible revelation, and certainly describes the main CPS context for the (as noted in the Guardian article above) source of Hostile Environment implementation at operational level in its worst forms (death and torture) apparent immunity, in UK Immigration Detention Centres. It is of course Not a matter of individual companies and of their employees, but of an employment/activity given sector; it is impossible to imagine that the choice of the CPS to not have an employment/activity sector data gathering category has not been for other considerations, namely if it existed would highlight trends of embarrassing kinds.  To use an apt parallel, it would be as if at the end of the Second World War that at the Nuremburg Trials, those investigating had only considered individuals, not the setting in which their crimes were carried out: the crimes were carried out in concentration or extermination camps or through the institution of the SS entity.  In our UK case, the potential perceived, or actual, activities that can be said to have broken laws and been considered criminal in nature, took place in UK Immigration Detention Centres, and pursuance of Hostile Environment implementation.  To ignores settings/contexts makes independent effective justice and judicial process impossible.

****** A very big missed opportunity, and confirming the worst suspicions articulated in the Guardian article by the father of the victim, Inquest, and a law firm.

Points **** & ****** of course entirely contradict each other