'Staff warned detention centre was dangerous'

31st October 2005, Comments 0 comments

31 October 2005, AMSTERDAM — Guards at the Schiphol detention centre complained to management that the complex was unsafe but nothing was done, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Monday.

31 October 2005

AMSTERDAM — Guards at the Schiphol detention centre complained to management that the complex was unsafe but nothing was done, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Monday.

Staff called on the management on several occasions to improve the safety systems in the complex, the paper said. The detention centre at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport held illegal immigrants and passengers intercepted with drugs.

'De Volkskrant' cited documents that seem to show the management was aware of the concerns voiced by staff.

A fire broke out at the Schiphol-Oost centre shortly after midnight on Wednesday night, killing 11 and injuring 15 others.

Sources, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their jobs, told the newspaper the disaster could have been avoided, but "no one listened".

Last Thursday, a guard told television programme 'Nova' of problems with the safety procedures at the detention centre. He claimed that there were only a few guards on duty during the evenings and at night. Calls from inmates were often ignored and on occasions false fire alerts did not generate a proper response, he said.

The most damning claim relates to the alarm system. Guards have suggested the emergency doors for the J and K wings of the centre were disconnected from the alarm system. As a result these doors did not open when the fire alarm went off.

Had the system been operating normally, prisoners could have been led through these doors once they were released from their cells to escape the fire.

Staff at the centre claimed the management blocked the alarm system because it was activated too often by "little fires in wastepaper-baskets".

Members of parliament have demanded a full debate into the tragedy at the detention centre.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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