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.
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?).
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.
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.