SERCO, CHRIS GRAYLING & THE PECKHAM ROLEX

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Tagging-a guide for people on curfew at G4S

Before I examine the issue of electronic tagging I would like to offer my belated congratulations to the Chief Executive of Serco, Chris Hyman, who was given a CBE in 2010 for services to business and charity. An evangelical Christian he is obviously a man of conviction in his words,
“We are meant to be known by the 5,000 not the five billion. The people who serve the people need to choose who supplies the service. We are delighted when the public knows who we are, but really, we need to be known by the people who make decisions.”
Although his company is British, has Lloyds TSB and Barclays amongst its shareholders and regularly rakes in a pre-tax profit of £302 million,Mr Hyman would prefer that his company keep a low profile. This might explain why G4S has promotional literature strewn all over youtube and the internet, whereas it is harder to find promotional data on Serco, they are a discreet government services company. Kind of like the security services company formerly known as Black Water and also run by an evangelical Christian (there’s a pattern emerging here I can sense it).
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In fact were it not for Chris Grayling’s budget slicing profile,and the brutal manner in which he has tackled the legal aid budget, Serco would have gone blithely on its way and we would never have known about Julien Chautard, the arsonist who made his escape from Pentonville prison in 2009, clinging to the underside of a Serco prison van. Or about the prisoners being escorted to court in black cabs as opposed to secure prison vans (in 2011). Nor would any one evince the slightest bit of interest in a German-born criminal (Carlo Kohl) with a history of violence escaping the custody of his two Serco employed guards (in 2013), who incidentally had been told nothing about his propensity for violence nor his previous addiction to drugs.

We would also know next to nothing about the overcharging of the British government by this British business to the tune of 50 million pounds. It would seem that the staunch Christian principles of Serco’s boss have failed to influence the manner in which the
company does business. For not only has the company been failing to adequately monitor the 8,000 offenders it was given charge of; it has also been charging the government for offenders who were dead, returned to prison or before the courts, in short prisoners who were never electronically tagged. In the words of Nils Pratley, ‘Have G4S and Serco knowingly ripped off tax-payers? Was it a scam?’ Given that these are both respected and well known government services providers it would appear so.
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SFO to Investigate Security Firms Over Electronic Tagging

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary, has repeatedly stressed a value for money approach, attempting to strip away costs in areas of the criminal justice system that might well have warranted investment. Serco it seems has been contractually indulged reinforcing the assumption made by most of the electorate that privatization isn’t so much about cost effective practices and efficiency. What it’s really about is greed and incompetence on a global scale.

As for the wearers of the ‘Peckham Bracelets’ they have been handed a sloppy service that was supposed to either help them reintegrate into society or serve as a cheaper and more effective alternative to them serving time within a prison. It has done neither and may very well have led to re-offending since in a significant number of cases the electronic tags they were fitted with malfunctioned.

‘Waste of money and that’s coming from a family who has experienced it! More fool the Criminal Justice System!’
– ‘Chelsea’ wife of a tagged ex-offender

‘My man was tagged last year and it never worked! His curfew was from 7pm to 7am. I’m not being funnybut how does this prevent crime?’
– Anonymous
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Sadiq Khan on G4S & Serco Newsnight

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G4S A Rehabilitated Offender?

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Group 4 Securicor, isn’t that the cheapskate company that found itself unable to supply the required security staff for the 2012 Olympics, and yet insisted on claiming its’
£57 million pound management fee? The very same. A not so little company actually; with at least 654,000 employees it’s the third largest employer in the world. Employing people like Nick Buckles (the UK CEO ), who last year had no idea why his companies recruitment efforts for the Olympic Security Team had proven so shoddy. And men like Danny Fitzsimons (who in 2009), shot and killed two of his G4S colleagues roughly 36 hours after his arrival in Iraq, in what was allegedly a drunken brawl. The company might have avoided the loss of three of its security personnel,had it heeded the warning of one employee who personally knew Mr Fitzsimons and thought it dangerous to employ him; given his criminal record and mental instability. A spokesperson for the company later admitted that he had not been vetted in strict line with the company’s procedures. Which surely shows that if you’re looking for an astute and competent service provider, G4S isn’t the company for you. In fact one would have to say that a company so adept at being incompetent has no business tendering for public service contracts.
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Which probably explains why Mr Grayling gave G4S HMP Wolds to run.
According to Simon Newberry (Head of Community Services and Interventions),
re-engage,re-train and re-employ were the watch words of the day in this ‘working’ prison. According to the company statistics,61.8% of the inmates entered further education upon release and 50% found employment after prison.Unfortunately for them Chris Grayling felt it necessary to hand HMP Wolds back to the public sector,the reason?Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons expressed concern at the high levels of illegal drug use, the degree of ‘idleness’ and the poor behaviour of some inmates( the 50% who weren’t destined to find work perhaps?).

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You can’t fault G4S’s determination though, not content with setting the new standard in prisoner rehabilitation, they’ve also been busy monitoring 15,000 tagged offenders. Tags require batteries in order to work and occasionally batteries fail and a tag will malfunction; which is when a G4S worker phones up, enquires where the offender is (in case he’s out clubbing and getting into a fight), and then makes arrangements to replace the batteries in the faulty device . Except that according to yet another ignored (and subsequently sacked) employee this rarely happened,instead G4S employees became ‘keyboard trigger happy’ (keys F4 & F7 to be precise) pressing the requisite keys in order to log the breach of curfew and never bothering to phone and check that the offender had actually breached the conditions of their probation.
Take for example, prisoner B, aged 64,out on early release and sat happily at home one evening reading a book, the battery in his tag failed, G4S was alerted and with out bothering to phone him contacted the police notifying them that he had breached his curfew. Fortunately for him his probation officer realised what had happened and contacted G4S post haste, others have not been so lucky. Many offenders sitting happily at home watching the TV have been mistakenly logged as breaching the conditions of their curfew because of the poor condition of the electronic tags they’ve been fitted with, and have subsequently been sent back to prison for breaching their probation. The real reason their lives were upended? G4S was paid to fit and remove the electronic tags to the tune of £62.3 million, it got paid absolutely nothing for making those calls and monitoring the whereabouts of offenders. And so it discouraged its employees from doing so.
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The British taxpayers funding the persistently negligent services of G4S would never have known of this were it not for a maths teacher ,who worked for G4S part-time and who blew the whistle on the company’s practices.

According to the right wing Conservative think tank ‘Reform’

‘The evidence shows that a greater role for the private sector will advance the [prison] rehabilitation revolution which ministers want to deliver’

G4S has proven its inability to run public sector services repeatedly, yet still it gets awarded public sector contracts. One could be mistaken for viewing this as a classic case of ideology (and profit) driving competitive tendering with little or no regard for the genuine rehabilitation of the service users, let alone the wishes of the taxpayers funding it.
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G4S Shares Fall Amid Revelations Of Financial Scandal

THE MERCHANT’S TALE

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Here’s Gerry Adams and Alicia Keys at what I assume is a charity event, an interesting juxtaposition of age, youth and talents. At 16 years of age Gerry Adams joined Sinn Fein and at the age of 24 he was briefly interned (that is imprisoned without fair trial). Here is a picture of Gerry Adams in his youth at a Sinn Fein (military) Funeral,

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And here is a picture of Gerry Adams a ‘Teachta Dala’ and the President of Sinn Fein (the political party) in the autumn of his life.

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Now, Mr Adams and his wife have three children and I can well imagine the twinkle eyed vigour with which they were conceived in his youth. A man full of passionate personal convictions and physical prowess in the arms of an equally passionate woman, what a potent match.

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Youthful vigour and physical prowess, what a heady, intoxicating, pulse raising, combination. One swoons just thinking about it;something you wouldn’t do when considering the limitations of old age.

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The inability to urinate when you want to, and remember what you want to and an increasing dependency on pills. Pills to regulate your heart beat, pills to thin your blood, pills to give you an erection that lasts long enough for you to believe that, that sexual encounter you had you actually enjoyed (bad back and all), pills,pills,pills. Old age can be very very depressing, so lets leave off talking about it and lets discuss the history of internment (arrest and imprisonment without trial) in Northern Ireland.

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Now, this might sound like what’s currently happening at Guantanamo, but trust me this was different. For starters, within 48 hours (at the end of one police operation)116 of the suspects arrested were released. Those who weren’t wound up either in a prison or on a prison ship (so, OK, maybe it wasn’t all that different from G’itmo). Still, in the end the British Government saw the error of its ways, walked into the light and abolished the practice of internment, didn’t they? Well not quite, Here’s a picture of Martin Corey.

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Martin is sixty one years old an ex-terrorist who murdered two Royal Ulster Constabulary Police Officers in 1973 and was released on licence in 1992. Three years ago on 16 April 2010, he was arrested, his licence was revoked and he was sent back to prison. Hardly internment since he’d clearly committed some criminal offence hadn’t he?

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And this is where things become Kafkaesque for not only does Martin not know what he is supposed to have done, his lawyers don’t know what he’s supposed to have done either. The Home Secretary who revoked his licence does know but he’s not telling; and since the evidence is a matter of closed material proceedings he’s allowed not to tell. The only thing that does seem clear is that Martin Corey is considered to pose a threat to National Security.

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In 2010, Justice Treacy ruled that Martin’s human rights had been breached and that he should be released immediately on unconditional bail. Of course that never happened as the Justice’s decision (in 2010) was immediately overruled by the then Home Secretary, Shaun Woodward. And so Martin Corey remains in prison for an offence he’s not even sure he committed and his lawyers can’t prove he didn’t commit, since they do not have access to all the evidence.

ALL A LADY’S RAGE: WOMEN & RAP MUSIC

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‘A sexually vulgar lady who dresses in a sexually vulgar way is a winner in our books. We just wouldn’t put a ring on that finger, if you know what I mean.’
– Ask Men: Better tweets for the better man

A bald statement of fact based on an even balder assumption that the lady in question would want to marry the writer of those words in the first place.

The first female rapper to have a number one on the American Billboard 100. The only female rapper (other than Missy Elliott) to have three platinum albums. One of the few female rappers to own her own record label (Queen Bee).

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Lil’ Kim is a woman who has in her day, posed nude in the back of a Limousine for a TV ad and given media interviews with her legs open and no underwear on. In the year she co-endorsed Mac’s Viva Glam III range of cosmetics, they made $4million, more than in any previous cosmetics campaign.

“Being dirty is good, it’s what made me what I am today, it’s what people love.”

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And what business man would have disagreed with her? Certainly not Larry Flynt, the porn magnate, whose video company has produced several profitable adult entertainment movies with another celebrated rapper, Snoop Dogg. And certainly not all the women who bought $4 million of cosmetics just because she endorsed them.
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To the women, Lil’ Kim and artists like her inspire, it’s all about female empowerment, the right to be as sexual and as sensual as you want to be without being judged.

‘The ability to get what you want when you want it without apology.’
– Lauryn Doll

Except that in what is still a predominately male industry heavily flavoured by sexism and some would say misogyny, getting what you want is never quite that simple.

For whilst rappers like Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre are still considered to be in their prime, from a musical point of view Lil’ Kim is well past her sell by date. In the words of Wendy Williams, the celebrity show presenter,

” For whatever reason we don’t like our lady rappers to be rapping past the age of thirty three years old”

‘For whatever reason’ a polite way of stating that for female rappers any success they enjoy will be limited in it’s duration, because ultimately they will age and therefore cease to be what the predominately male consumers of this music choose to fantasise about.

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And that’s the fate of the forty year old sexualised female rapper; just as disempowering as that of the middle aged porn star.

Why We Have Incorporated The ECHR

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Ever heard of a parent pulling their child into the middle of a duel carriageway and leaving them there? Or dispassionately looking on as their child opened a second floor window and then disappeared through it? No? Why? Because caring parents wouldn’t do that. They don’t neglect to feed their kids, clothe their kids or protect them. As for strangers, well, that’s different, there are no blood ties obligating them to take care of other people’s kids, the way they’d take care of there own. Which reminds me of a story I got told when I was old enough to understand the telling of it.

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There was this woman who lived next door to my mum and who never ever spoke to her. Now this irked my mother because as a rule, she spoke to everyone. Still, my mother elected to continue to be polite to this woman as a matter of course. Well one cold winter’s day my mother was pushing a pram up-hill with me in it and she slipped on the iced-over road. The old fashioned pram upturned and I flew out of it and through the air. Now it so happened that the lady who never spoke to my mum was passing by in the opposite direction, and as I catapulted through the air she sprinted down that icy hill and caught me. Then handing me back to my shaken mother, she smiled and continued on her way.
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A mother who lost her son, went looking for him in the place he was last seen in France, and eventually found out what had happened to him. Whilst hitch-hiking in a particular part of France, he was offered a lift by a person who appeared to be a police officer, but was eventually discovered to be a serial killer who had sexually assaulted several men, in that and other regions of France; her son was never seen again. She had taught him to respect and trust figures of authority and that respect led him to his death.

Now, this woman and my mother had one thing in common, the idea that if someone has reached a certain age, they must deserve the respect they are given. And that if someone has been given a certain measure of authority, it is because they have earned it and can wield it responsibly. It would never occur to us lowly folk, that there are people who see themselves as being above the laws that govern the behaviour of civilised society, and believe that they have been sanctioned in their right, to set themselves over those perceived by them to be a political and potential terrorist threat, to the extreme detriment of those they opt to detain and torture.

imageAnd so my heart goes out to the family of Adnan Farhan Abd AL Latif, who had to committ suicide in order to free himself from Guantanamo. In many cultures respect is often naively accorded to people whose unscrupulous ruthlessness, accompanied by a distinct lack of moral integrity, doesn’t warrant such respect.

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And how easy to make the assumption (initially) when you’re face to face with such people, that if you’re innocent and have nothing to hide you will eventually be released, and left to go about your affairs. Adnan Latif, was eventually proven to be innocent, he hid nothing, least of all the brain damaged condition that left him in need of a great deal of medication. Despite this, he was never released and so took his own life. He died in a foreign country, in a spartan prison cell, without ever laying eyes on the family he had been taken from.

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And so, President Obama, I would like to ask this question, during the Eid-Ul-Adha festivities, whilst you are busy taking military action against ISIS. When are you and your party going to get up the courage to set the innocent detainees free, and close the Guantanamo Detention Centre?