Private security giant G4S makes more than £1bn a year from contracts with the UK government, despite a litany of catastrophic performance that has resulted in millions of pounds in overcharging, and death. The military even had to be called in last year when they failed to recruit enough staff to secure the Olympics. We discovered this week that this incompetent corporation has now been awarded contracts to run rape victim support centres.
Rape Victim Support
The government has commissioned G4S to run two support centres supporting victims of rape and sexual attacks in the West Midlands. These sexual assault referral centres, in Castle Vale and Walsall, provide a range if support services for the victims without them having to contact the police.
G4S trained crisis workers will operated the manned support centres, conduct medical assessments and make recommendations for further action and support required by the victim.
According to charity Rape Crisis, 85,000 are raped, and more than 400,000 sexually assaulted every year in England and Wales.
Men, women and children who have faced the personal tragedy of rape or sexual assault are being turned into a source of profit for one of the worst offending corporations in the UK.
Who are G4S?
In 1992, G4S became the first private contractor to run a state prison – taking over HM Prison Wolds. Since then G4S have been allowed, by successive governments, to quietly buy up large tracts of our formerly public police, security and justice sector.
It is increasingly likely that if someone commits a crime in the UK they will be arrested by a G4S provided officer, detained in a G4S cell, transported to court by a G4S van driven by G4S officers, the court will be manned by G4S security officers, they’ll be sent to a G4S prison, and released into the G4S probation service to live in a G4S run half way house.
G4S is now focusing on gaining more lucrative PFI contracts to build new prisons, as the government announces the closure of 7 existing prisons. The firm has also built up a new Offender Rehabilitation Team to make use of the government’s decision to almost fully privatise the Probation service. The government has announced it will put 70% of the service out to competitive tender – while banning the existing Probation service from competing for the contracts.
Read more on G4S’s stake in our public services here.
G4S-Run Public Services – Overpriced and Prone to Catastrophe
G4S currently enjoys more than £1bn in contracts with the UK government. The Ministry of Justice, the Department of Work and Pensions, The Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office all contract out services to G4S.
The case for outsourcing these services to G4S always follows the same logic – efficiency, modernisation, higher quality services at a lower cost. Yet this is rarely, if ever, what the tax payer actually gets once the ink has dried on the contracts.
G4S won the £284m contract to secure the Games in March 2011. Later, the government was forced to call in the armed forces to secure the London 2012 games after G4S announced a huge shortfall in their required staff numbers just weeks before the event.
The Death of Jimmy Mubenga
Twenty one passengers and crew on the plane report hearing Mubenga repeatedly cry for help and that he could not breathe while several G4S guards applied aggressive methods of restraint – including pressing his head down below the level of tray on the back of the seat opposite for 10 minutes; known to carry a risk of asphyxia. Paramedics were called after Mubenga stopped breathing, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Stuart Tribelnig, the Senior Detainee Custody Officer in charge of Mubenga’s deportation is a former heavy goods driver. He became a deportation custody officer for G4S after a four-week training course in 2007. He was in charge of the other G4S security guards during Mubenga’s deportation. Whilst on trial this week he was made to read out a string of racist jokes that he had texted to fellow G4S deportation guards.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – the independent report into G4S border security guards makes shocking reading. The Home Office response to these issues was to castigate the doctors and lawyers who had brought the allegations to light, accusing them of “seeking to damage the reputation of our contractors”.
The Overcharging for Electronic Tagging
MoJ spending on electronic tagging has soared from the original £107m contract offered to G4S to £700m (including Serco) in 2012. The Ministry has appointed external auditors to unravel exactly how much overcharging has occurred, but it is already estimated to be in the millions.
Slum Asylum Housing
In 2011, G4S were awarded a £620m contract by government to provide housing for asylum seekers. G4S subcontracted this out to a network of smaller firms, and the results were disastrous. A recent Parliamentary Inquiry found that the firms has repeatedly failed to provide housing fit for human habitation.
Activist researcher John Grayson, who has supported tenants suffering these dreadful conditions to hold their slum landlords to account said:
“G4S is one of the companies responsible for what shadow minister of Immigration Chris Bryant described as ‘hideous conditions’ in asylum housing. G4S subcontractors have been exposed meting out punishment by harassing women who speak out against these conditions…. (including) Landlords abusing and punishing their tenants”
In fact, almost every service that G4S has been given to run has ended up costing us more, measured in pounds sterling or human suffering. Yet the government is determined to hand over ever more of our most critical public services into their unworthy hands. Do we want to entrust the emotional and physical safety of rape victims to these people?
Just as the financial services sector grants bonuses to bankers who crashed the economy, the government is now granting huge rewards to private sector service providers for crashing our public services.
Thankfully the government has postponed the privatisation of five more prisons, pending the results of the electronic tagging overcharging inquiry, this is welcome news. But while significant further contracts continue to be awarded, G4S know that they can continue to break the law, fail to meet safety and quality standards and overcharge for services – safe in the knowledge they will face no more than a slap on the wrist and a bigger share of our public services.
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