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G4S fined for after failing to stop detainees smoking at Gatwick Immigration centre

Crawley Borough Council has successfully prosecuted G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd for breaching anti-smoking legislation inside an immigration centre it runs.

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The company, which runs Brook House Immigration Removal Centre near Gatwick Airport, pleaded guilty at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on 6 March to four counts of failing to stop a person smoking between 27 June and 1 July 2018.

Magistrates fined the company £1,666 for each count, ordered the company to pay the council’s costs of £5,809.50 and a victim surcharge of £170. The total to pay was £12,646.50. The court said that it felt the appropriate fine was the maximum available but with a reduction to take into account the company’s early guilty plea.

The prosecution was brought after the council received complaints that detainees were smoking in areas that must remain smoke-free by law and that staff and detainees were being exposed to second-hand smoke and the health issues it causes.

An Environmental Health Officer visited the premises on a couple of occasions in 2018 and his investigations included obtaining CCTV of the areas relating to the complaints.

In the four days relating to the charges, 37 separate incidents of smoking were observed. The company’s staff intervened on only two of those occasions and only once did this stop the person smoking.

Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, said:

“This is a highly unusual prosecution because there have been very few, if any, similar cases.

“The smoking ban was brought in to protect people from breathing in second-hand smoke. The strong message from the magistrates is that this won’t be tolerated.

“This is a great result for the council as well as detainees and staff at Brook House. I’d like to thank the sterling work of our Environmental Health and Legal teams in bringing forward this prosecution.”

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Crawley drink-driver almost four times legal limit “felt fine” to drive

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A motorist who caused this crash, while almost four times the drink-drive limit, said he “felt fine to drive”.

Lincoln Simmons was driving a blue Volkswagen Passat on the A23 London Road, Crawley, about 1pm on 2 December when he collided a black Renault Clio.

The impact caused the Clio to mount the roundabout and crash through road signage. The driver – a 53-year-old woman from Haywards Heath – sustained significant bruising.

The Passat failed to stop at the scene and was located a short distance away, near Gatwick Airport.

Simmons failed a roadside breath test, and was subsequently arrested and charged with failing to stop after a road traffic collision, and driving with 139mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system. The legal limit is 35mcg.

In police interview, he stated he had consumed a litre of vodka the previous evening and a small bottle of whiskey prior to the crash, but claimed he is “used to drinking” so it “takes a lot of alcohol to feel the effects”.

The 48-year-old, who is unemployed, of Galahad Road, Crawley, pleaded guilty to both offences and was disqualified from driving for 32 months when he appeared before Crawley Magistrates’ Court on 11 February.

He was also given a 12-month community order requiring him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, and must pay £85 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

Chief Inspector Michael Hodder, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said:

“One of the most common excuses we hear from drink-drivers is that they “felt fine” to drive. But even a small amount of alcohol has the ability to impair your judgement and reaction time.

“Feeling fine is not a good judgement of your ability to drive. If you drink and drive you are committing an offence which carries with it a risk of serious injury or death to yourself or someone else.

 “The bottom line is there is no excuse to drive under the influence of drink or drugs.

“Our priority is to keep everyone safe on our roads, and we will continue to crack down on anyone who compromises this.”

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