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Best bar none

22 December 2009

As the year limps to its end, it is time to reflect on the joys and sorrows of the last 12 months of the criminal justice system, and to hand out the Behind Bars Awards of 2009.

The first award did not trouble the judges too much: the SERCO administrators of Yarl’s Wood detention centre won the ‘Mean-Minded Grouch of the Year Award’ by a mile. Canon James Rosenthal, a churchman and authority on Saint Nicholas, went to the immigration detention centre, in full Santa Claus outfit, to hand out Christmas presents to the 35 children of asylum seekers imprisoned there.

The fact they were unlikely to be Christian did not deter the generous man, but any other spirit of Christmas was notable by its absence. After the inevitable challenges and rudeness, SERCO called the police and the philanthropic churchman was escorted off the premises.

A disappointed Santa said: “If this is how visitors are treated, I shudder to think what else transpires at Yarl’s Wood.” W...

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