G4S is the UK's biggest private security company, with its government contracts alone worth over £600 million. Responsible for security services, managing detention centres, prisons, and 675 court and police station holding cells, G4S have also just been granted the £100 million contract for providing 10,000 security guards for the upcoming olympics.

Whilst G4S still seem to be government favourites, their record is far from spotless. The firm lost their previous 'forcible deportation' contract last September after receiving 773 complaints of abuse – both verbal and physical. The final straw came with the death of Jimmy Mubenga in October 2010, an Angolan asylum seeker who died as a result of his forced deportation by G4S guards. Two of the guards are on bail facing criminal charges, whilst G4S is still waiting to hear whether they are to face corporate manslaughter charges.

Now, asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside are expected to accept this multi-national, money-hungry, security company as their landlords.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

G4S: the public face of private police

Companies like G4S are often described as the invisible authorities behind hundreds of our so called social services. The fact that a care home is run by A4E, a detention centre is managed by Serco or that your local police authority is a 'joint-venuture' with multi-national corporation G4S, is not advertised as such; it's only there when you go looking.

At least that's how it's been for years. Yet in the words of Claire Sambrook, writing brilliantly for Open Democracy, now 'Corporate Power stamps its brand on British Policing'; Lincolnshire police uniforms now find their epaulettes branded by the brazen red, white and black of the G4S logo. According to a BBC report, the uniforms are to be worn by 200 staff, including front counter staff at police stations. We're seeing a "strategic partnership" with G4S firmly in control.

On the first of April 2012, 540 civilian Lincolnshire police workers turned into employees of G4S, the largest security company in the UK. Alongside managing frontline counter service, G4S employees will run the crime management bureau, the central ticket office and collisions unit, the criminal justice unit, the resource management unit and firearms licensing. This is hardy the back-room presence that the government claimed private contractors would have within the police. Put succinctly by Sambrook:
As for the corporate statement, "There are no plans to introduce the dual logo elsewhere," it is a warning. It does not come from the government, or from a Minister speaking to Parliament. The sentence carries a huge, silent word at the end: "yet". 
Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, immdiately after acknowledging that changing the uniforms will have an adverse effect on the visual presence of warranted officers, made the following statement:
"G4S aren't doing anything wrong. They are doing what any private company would want to do, which is make profit and expand their organisation." 
I'm not sure whether I could ever agree with that.

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