G4S: Policing

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G4S has been providing a range of 'police support services' in the UK for a number of years through its subsidiary G4S Care & Justice, while another subsidiary, G4S Policing Solutions, supplies ex-coppers to public sector bodies for investigations into council tax fraud and NHS fraud, among others. The financial crisis that began in 2008 and governments’ commitments to privatise public services have provided G4S with more opportunities to expand its share of the 'policing market'.

G4S’ policing portfolio already includes 30 'custody suites', with over 500 cells, which it rents to small- to mid-sized police forces around the country through G4S Police Support Services, part of G4S Care and Justice.[1]

In December 2011, G4S' police work went to a whole new level when the Lincolnshire Police Authority became the first force in the UK to outsource core policing functions to the private sector, claiming the deal could save £28 million.[2] G4S won the 10-year contract, worth £200 million, and is now responsible for the operation of the force's control centre, human resources, training, finance and custody, among other things. Under the terms of the contract, two-thirds of the force's staff are to join G4S, which has an option in the contract for G4S to buy at least one of the force’s police stations at market value.[3]

Ever-aware of the need for good branding, G4S was quick to knock up a new uniform for the 550 staff transferred over to it, adding a G4S logo to the 'Lincolnshire Police' epaulettes. Both G4S and the government have been keen to stress this does not mean the police force is being privatised and that G4S will just be doing “back office” work. However, an investigation by Clare Sambrook for OpenDemocracy in April 2012 showed G4S is already recruiting for “major crime investigator jobs”. These include “Outstanding Investigative Officer”, which involves “contributing, as part of a team, to the review of historic murder investigations” and is “ideal for former detectives with excellent report writing skills who have recent murder investigation experience”.[4]

G4S is also bidding for seven-year contracts worth £1.5 billion for Surrey and the West Midlands Police to provide a wide range of services, including investigating crimes, patrolling neighbourhoods and detaining suspects.[5] Both Unison and Unite, the two largest public sector trade unions, warned that the radical plan to privatise policing would “damage public safety".[6]

G4S also provides other policing-related services, including prisoner and detainee transport services on behalf of police and court services, as well as police recruitment facilities. G4S Policing Solutions was established in 2002 to provide “police recruitment consultancy and staffing solutions” to police forces, as well as other local and central government bodies. According to its website, its database currently has more than 25,000 'skilled individuals'.

While taking over police forces may be unprecedented, recruiting former cops is nothing new at G4S. Standing to attention at G4S board meetings is non-executive director Lord Paul Condon, former Chief Constable of Kent and Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The Lincolnshire contract appears to have more than justified his £124,600-a-year salary. John Reid, former Labour Home Secretary and now a G4S Regional Management Director, will no doubt have also been on hand to give advice (see the Staff section).
References:
[1] ‘Prisons for rent’, Corporate Watch, 15.12.10

[2] Lincolnshire Police outsource £200m support contract, BBC News, 22.12.11

[3] Private security firm G4S to run Lincolnshire police station, BBC News, 22.2.12

[4] C Sambrook, ‘Who should investigate murder ? the police, or a private security company?’, Opendemocracy, 13.4.12

[5] A Travis, Z Williams, ‘Revealed: government plans for police privatisation’, Guardian

[6] PP Manzanaro, ‘Private sector muscle in on "policing services"’, London Daily News, 23.3.12

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