Media smullen van G4S ‘terreurexpert’

Hij duikt de afgelopen jaren geregeld op in de media als ‘onafhankelijk’ expert op het gebied van terreur, Glenn Schoen. Hij verkondigt doemscenario’s die de overheid dienen aan te sporen het pakket aan veiligheidsmaatregelen verder op te schroeven. Schoen echter is werkzaam voor de private beveiligingsfirma G4S, in wezen verkoopt hij zijn product.

Glenn Schoen is een graag geziene gast in de wereld van de media. Van het tv-programma Dit is de dag van Tijs van de Brink, BNR nieuwsradio, Pauw en Witteman, Met het Oog op Morgen tot aan Hubert Smeets van NRC Handelsblad: ze maken allemaal dolgraag gebruik van de diensten van Schoen. Hij wordt onder andere omschreven als ‘terrorisme deskundige/expert’, ‘terreurdeskundige/expert’, ‘Al Qaida deskundige/expert’, ‘veiligheidsdeskundige/expert’, ‘veiligheidsanalist’ en ‘beveiligingsdeskundige’.

Waaraan hij al deze titels te danken heeft, is niet altijd even duidelijk. Schoen heeft geen indrukwekkende publicatielijst op zijn naam staan. Wie een boek van hem probeert te vinden, raakt teleurgesteld. Ook artikelen van zijn hand in de media zijn moeilijk te vinden. Zelfs op de website van G4S, het beveiligingsbedrijf waar hij voor werkt, bevat geen publicaties onder de naam van Schoen.

Hans Beerekamp schrijft in een van zijn tv-recensies in NRC Handelsblad (11-02-14) dat Glenn Schoen een ‘praktijkman’ is, ‘in de hoogtij van wat toen steevast werd aangeduid als ‘moslimterrorisme’ werd nog wel eens een praktijkman (Glenn Schoen was de bekendste) voor de camera gehaald.’ Volgens Beerekamp willen ‘we (de media red.) tegenwoordig toch liever een wetenschapper.’ Wie echter de mediastatus van Schoen bekijkt, constateert dat hij nog steeds een graag geziene gast is op radio en tv, maar ook in de geschreven media.

In de NRC wordt hij zelfs twee dagen eerder dan de angehaalde tv-recensie van Beerekamp door journalist en ‘Ruslandkenner’ Hubert Smeets geciteerd in relatie tot de veiligheid van de Olympische Winterspelen in het Russische Sotsji: “Neem van mij aan dat de Russen voor een goede package zorgen: politieauto’s, motorrijders, busjes”, zo weet Schoen te melden.

Dokter Clavan

Er is sprake van een aantal opvallende zaken die aan het optreden van Schoen in de media ten grondslag liggen, maar ook de manier waarop de media met de man omgaan, baart enig opzien. De wijze waarop Schoen bijvoorbeeld zijn mening verkondigt, getuigt van een hoog ‘dokter Clavan’ gehalte. Misschien niet geheel vergelijkbaar met het niveau van het gesprek tussen interviewer Hobbema (acteur Wim de Bie) en dokter Clavan (Kees van Kooten) tijdens een tv-uitzending van Keek op de Week (12-11-89), maar veel recente opmerkingen van Schoen echoën het typetje van Van Kooten na:

Hobbema: “Dokter Clavan, het gaat allemaal ongelooflijk snel hè?”
Clavan: “Meneer Hobéma, het gaat eh, ongelooflijk snel.”
Hobbema: “In een week tijd treedt de regering af, er komt een nieuw Politbureau, een vervroegde Partijconferentie… het is toch niet gering, hè, wat daar gebeurt?”
Clavan: “Als u nagaat dat in één week tijd de regering aftreedt, dat er een nieuw Politbureau wordt benoemd, dat er een vervroegde Partijconferentie wordt uitgeschreven… Dat is niet gering hoor, wat daar gebeurt.”
Hobbema: “En dan de Muur, die eigenlijk geen functie meer heeft…”
Clavan: “De Muur heeft eigenlijk geen functie meer.”

Taalhistoricus Ewoud Sanders schreef in zijn boek Jemig de pemig! (2000, etymologiebank.nl) dat de personage van dokter Clavan voortkwam uit het feit dat de ontwikkelingen (in Oost Europa red.) zo snel gingen en zo onduidelijk waren dat de gemiddelde leek die z’n krant had gelezen en naar CNN had gekeken, er evenveel zinnigs over kon opmerken als een wetenschapper die er jaren voor had doorgeleerd. Het was alom koffiedik kijken, speculeren en zinnen vullen zonder veel te zeggen.’ Schoen is dan wel geen wetenschapper, hoewel hij soms MA (Master of Science) achter zijn naam laat zetten, maar gebruikt veel van de technieken van dr. Clavan.

In het artikel van Smeets over Sotsji, hoewel geen tv/radio, lijkt de conversatie van Hobbema en Clavan te worden gespiegeld. Smeets schrijft: ‘De politie krijgt ondersteuning van 23.000 mannen en vrouwen van het paramilitaire Ministerie voor Noodtoestanden.’ Smeets gaat verder over de draconische maatregelen die de Russen hebben afgekondigd. Dan volgt een vraag aan Glenn Schoen over de beveiliging van de Nederlandse hoogwaardigheid bekleders in Sotsji. Het antwoord van Schoen is dan zoals boven weergegeven: “Neem van mij aan dat de Russen voor een goede package zorgen: politieauto’s, motorrijders, busjes.”

Op 17 maart 2014 wordt Schoen uitgenodigd door BNR Nieuwsradio voor een item over de verdwenen Boeing 777 van Malaysia Airlines (MH370) vanwege de lading en of het vliegtuig gekaapt zou kunnen zijn. De interviewer: “Want die theorie van die kaping is een hele serieuze aan het worden?” Schoen antwoordt: “Ja, dat is een hele serieuze aan het worden. Als we kijken naar hoe het toestel is gevlogen, wat er nodig moest zijn om het te veranderen. Welke route die initieel heeft gekozen? Het moment van de vlucht waarop het is gekozen?”

De Nuclear Security Summit van 24 en 25 maart in Den Haag vormde een van de hoogtepunten voor Schoen. Veel journalisten vonden hun weg naar onze ‘terrorisme-expert’. Journalisten van onder andere het Dagblad van het Noorden, diverse edities van het Algemeen Dagblad, het Parool, De Nieuws BV van de VARA en het NOS Journaal raadpleegden hem. In het Parool (22-03-14) wordt Schoen geciteerd: ‘Volgens Schoen draait het allemaal om het afdekken van voorspelbare en voorstelbare risico’s. “De groepen moeten van elkaar gescheiden blijven; je wilt niet dat een Amerikaanse delegatielid wordt aangereden door een bakfiets.”’

‘Gevaarlijke wereld’

De gemeenplaatsen die Schoen keer op keer herhaalt, lijken voor de media aantrekkelijk. Hij spreekt heldere en duidelijke taal. Er is echter ook iets anders waarom de man een graag geziene gast is. Hij vertegenwoordigt een groot deel van de journalistieke wereld die geen kritiek heeft op politie, justitie en inlichtingendiensten. Woorden als repressieve tolerantie, repressie, doorgeslagen veiligheidscultuur, gewelddadig politie-optreden en overmatige inbreuk op de burger- en mensenrechten wensen veel media niet langer in hun programma’s horen. Het gevaar van nu vormt bij de media het islamitisch terrorisme, de zelf ontbrandende burger, de eenzame waxinelicht-gooier en andere randverschijnselen van deze samenleving.

Schoen sluit naadloos aan bij deze ideologie van de veiligheidsstaat. In het Financieele Dagblad (20-08-13) wordt hij geciteerd: “Als een van de kernactiviteiten houdt Al Qaida zich al tien jaar bezig met het kijken naar treinen als doelwit.” Voorbeelden hiervan zijn de aanslagen op treinen in Madrid in 2004 en op de Londense metro in 2005. “Dergelijke aanvallen zijn moeilijk te voorkomen. Het spoor is onderdeel van onze kritische infrastructuur, het is kwetsbaar, een aanslag werkt ontregelend. En helaas heeft een aantal incidenten laten zien dat je veel slachtoffers kunt krijgen”, aldus de veiligheidsexpert. Het artikel is geschreven naar aanleiding van een artikel in het blad Bild waarin beweerd wordt dat ‘veiligheidsdiensten gewaarschuwd hebben voor mogelijke aanslagen op zowel treinmaterieel als spoorinfrastructuur.’

Veel van wat Schoen zegt is een open deur: “Een aanslag werkt ontregelend, je krijgt veel slachtoffers”. Het ontbreekt de man aan kritische analyse: “Dergelijke aanvallen zijn moeilijk te voorkomen.” Analyses van de aanslagen in Madrid en Londen, en de betrokkenheid en het falen van politie en inlichtingendiensten daarbij, zijn niet besteed aan Glenn Schoen.

“We leven in een gevaarlijke wereld”, zegt hij aan het eind van een tv-uitzending van Dit is de dag met Tijs van den Brink (02-12-13). Het item gaat over het benaderen ven studenten die protesteerden tegen het bezuinigingsbeleid van de regering door de AIVD. Natuurlijk vindt Schoen het goed dat de dienst alles doet om de veiligheid van Nederland te waarborgen. Van den Brink is het helemaal met Schoen eens en stelt geen enkele kritische vraag aan de ‘terreurdeskundige’. Ook vraagt de interviewer niet naar het bedrijf waar Schoen voor werkt. De EO heeft Schoen in de Rolodex staan, want hij treedt er geregeld op bij ‘veiligheidsvraagstukken’.

Dubbele tong

Niet alleen de media zijn van hem gecharmeerd, ook in de semi-academische wereld van inlichtingen- en veiligheidsstudies is Glenn Schoen veelvuldig te vinden. Assistent Professor Giliam de Valk, docent aan de UvA, geeft samen met Schoen les aan de European Security Academy. Hun module is ‘Direction’ genaamd: ‘Voorafgaand aan het diner wordt een praktisch verband gelegd via global threats.’ De module behandelt onder andere de dreigingsmatrix en informatiepositie. Over Schoen staat geschreven dat hij ‘G4S Risk Advisory’ is en blijkbaar kennis heeft over ‘global threats’ en informatieposities van overheden en bedrijven.

Enkele jaren geleden heeft Professor Dr. Rob de Wijk van The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies Schoen uitgenodigd voor de derde internationale masterclass over ‘International Emergency Management and specifically Consequence Management: try to prepare for the unthinkable disaster!’ Schoen sprak tijdens dit evenement in december 2011 over de bedreigingen van de moderne samenleving. Een jaar eerder waren de heren al gezamenlijk naar buiten getreden met het verhaal dat er sinds 11 september 2001 “zeker vijftig omvangrijke terroristische aanslagen van moslimextremisten in Europa voorkomen” (AD, 25-09-10). Schoen stapte in 2010 over van Ernst & Young naar G4S. Ook Edwin Bakker, hoogleraar Terrorisme aan de Universiteit Leiden, kent Glenn Schoen al jaren en deelt vaak zijn mening over veiligheid en terrorisme in de media.

Hans Beerekamp schrijft in zijn tv-rubriek van 11 februari 2014 dat Schoen zo vaak optreedt omdat ‘de meeste mensen die er echt iets vanaf weten er niet over mogen praten.’ Volgens de NRC-journalist zouden mensen van de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten de mensen zijn ‘die er echt iets vanaf weten.’ Wie de kritische literatuur over het veiligheidsbeleid volgt, zal concluderen dat geheime diensten het meestal niet echt zo goed lijken te weten. De mogelijke val van de Muur ontging de CIA in het geheel, evenals de aanslagen van 11 september 2001. Ook de AIVD en haar voorloper de BVD hadden veel zaken niet door, zoals de moorden op Pim Fortuyn en Theo van Gogh.

Het gaat dus niet om de expertise van Schoen, maar om zijn mening die werd gevormd door zijn ‘professionele’ carrière. En daar doet zich iets geks voor. Wie in de krantenbank zoekt op de naam Glenn Schoen komt de expert of deskundige Schoen vaak tegen. Dat de man deskundige is, wordt overal vermeld, maar slechts in een derde van de artikelen over Schoen in Lexis Nexis van de afgelopen jaren wordt tevens de naam vermeld van het bedrijf waarvoor hij heeft gewerkt. Ook op radio en tv wordt vaak niet vermeld dat Schoen werkzaam is voor de beveiligingsindustrie.

Is dat dan zo belangrijk? Als Schoen zegt dat ‘we in een gevaarlijke wereld leven’, ‘treinen gevaar lopen’ en ‘elke massa is doelwit’ (Parool, 11-07-05), moet de mediaconsument weten dat hier iemand spreekt die zijn boterham verdient met beveiligen. Het aandikken van het gevaar kan, indirect, extra inkomsten voor het bedrijf waar Schoen voor werkt opleveren.

Inlichtingen- en beveiligingsadviezen in de commerciële wereld, maar ook in de publieke sector hebben zowel te maken met omzet als met politieke kleur. Glenn Schoen werkt al sinds 1988 in dienst van de commerciële inlichtingenwereld. Eerst onder de vleugels van Noel Koch, een hard-liner die diende onder president Nixon en Reagan, en sinds 2006 als beveiligingsanalist voor Ernst & Young en G4S. Het feit dat hij voor G4S, het grootste beveiligingsbedrijf van de wereld, werkzaam is, maar ook nog eens een groot deel van zijn professionele carrière bij bedrijven van een conservatief uit de rangen van Nixon, zegt iets over zijn mening omtrent beveiliging en hoe de wereld in elkaar zit.

Private inlichtingenwereld

Schoen kan dus in principe over alles meepraten. Of het nu gaat over Sotjsi, verdwijntips voor Holleeder, benaderen van studenten door de geheime dienst, Osama Bin Laden, een verdwenen Boeing, beveiliging rond de Olympische Spelen of de NSS; hij heeft een antwoord paraat. Hij werkt al vele jaren in de wereld van het op commerciële basis verzamelen van inlichtingen en adviezen geven over beveiliging. Een lucratieve wereld, zoals hij zelf ooit eens als veiligheidsadviseur van Ernst & Young duidelijk maakte. “Wereldwijd gaat er 53 miljard om in de beveiligingsindustrie”, zegt Glenn Schoen, terrorisme-expert van Ernst & Young. “Meer dan in de film- en de muziekindustrie bij elkaar.”(Vrij Nederland, 10-02-07)

Schoen begon zijn analytische carrière in 1988 bij International Security Management Inc. (ISM Inc.), een bedrijf uit het Amerikaanse Maryland. ISM Inc. is een zogenoemd beveiligings-adviesbedrijf. Het verdient zijn geld met het verkopen van reis- en veiligheidsadviezen aan bedrijven en vakantiegangers. De meeste van die adviezen bestaan uit het opnieuw verpakken van overheidsinformatie, maar ook uit het bijhouden van berichtgeving door de internationale media.

In 1998 legde Schoen uit dat het beter is om het Midden-Oosten te vermijden. ‘Certain Islamic countries pose the biggest threat, security consultants like Schoen say, especially Iraq, Jordan, Yemen’, tekent de Seattle Times News Services (15-02-98) op uit de mond van Schoen. Schoen’s informatie is echter grotendeels afkomstig van overheidsorganen en uit de media. ‘The State Department has issued an alert urging American travelers to be aware of government warnings and travel advisory updates stemming from anxieties in the Persian Gulf’, wordt enkele regels eerder aan de opmerking van Schoen vermeld.

In het algemeen volgen private inlichtingenbedrijven de overheidsinformatie op de voet en ‘verkopen’ die door aan bedrijven en individuen. Een woordvoerder van het State Department legt Schoen bijna de woorden in de mond, al gebruikt die dan niet de namen van specifieke landen: ‘“While at this time we know of no specific threats to U.S. citizens or interests overseas in relation to the present situation in Iraq, we cannot discount the possibility of random acts of anti-American violence”, a spokesman said.’

De baas van International Security Management Inc. is Noel Koch die in 1986 ook de president wordt van een ander commercieel inlichtingenbedrijf, Transecur inc. Dit bedrijf wordt omschreven als een ‘web-based’ beveiligings-/adviesbedrijf dat inlichtingen over mogelijke gevaren verschaft aan bedrijven, overheden en rijke families. Koch werkte in de jaren ’80 onder president Reagan als assistent van de minister van Defensie en als directeur speciale planningen van het Amerikaanse ministerie van Defensie. Daarvoor was hij tevens speciaal assistent van president Nixon. Hij leidde het eerste onderzoek naar de aanslagen op de Amerikaanse ambassade in Beiroet in 1983. Koch is duidelijk een hardliner en warm pleitbezorger van de private beveiligingswereld. Schoen heeft vanaf eind jaren ’80 voor hem gewerkt.

Eind jaren ’90 verkaste Schoen van International Security Management Inc. naar Transecur inc. waar Koch ook de baas van is. In 2004 opent Transecur een Europees kantoor in Den Haag. Koch benoemt Schoen tot directeur analytische diensten. Business Wire (01-06-04) omschrijft Schoen als een expert op het terrein van ‘European and Middle Eastern sub-conflicts, and special interest activism’.

Dat Schoen een goede leerling van Koch is geweest, blijkt uit een presentatie tijdens een conferentie in Polen, oktober 2012. Onder de titel ‘Terrorism in Europe: Perspectives on 2013-2014’ vertelt Schoen over hoe “the terrorist threat from various quarters – leftwing, rightwing, Jihadist, separatist, activist – is evolving.” Links, rechts, activist, of separatist, het zijn allemaal jihadi en gevaarlijk, zo is de ‘overtuiging’ van Schoen.

Media-carrière

In 2005 verlaat Schoen, na 18 jaar werkzaam voor Noel Koch te zijn geweest en na een jaar als Europese directeur van Transecur, zijn post en treedt in dienst van Ernst & Young als veiligheidsadviseur. In dat jaar begint ook zijn Nederlandse media-carrière. In Amerika had hij ook al een status als mediadeskundige opgebouwd, maar de Amerikaanse Nederlander moet in Holland natuurlijk een nieuwe status zien op te bouwen.

Dit gaat hem goed af, mede dankzij de hoogleraren Rob de Wijk en Edwin Bakker. In 2010 beweren de Wijk en Schoen beiden dat de inlichtingendiensten vijftig aanslagen hadden weten te voorkomen sinds 2001. Veel bewijs hadden ze er niet voor, maar de twee ‘terreurdeskundigen’ uit zowel de publieke als de private sector kregen veel aandacht in de media. In 2010 stapt Schoen over naar G4S om daar de post ‘risk advisory’ in te vullen. Op de website van G4S is te lezen dat ‘Security en Safety Risk Management een groeiende noodzaak’ zijn.

Glenn Schoen werkt ondertussen bijna vier jaar als veiligheidsadviseur bij het grootste beveiligingsbedrijf ter wereld. G4S is daarnaast de een na grootste werkgever op aarde met meer dan 600.000 werknemers en biedt oplossingen voor zo’n beetje alles, waarbij het niet altijd alleen om veiligheid draait.

G4S verzorgt de beveiliging op vliegvelden, voor de Olympische Spelen, regeringsgebouwen, havens, allerlei instituties van de Verenigde Naties, niet gouvernementele organisaties, banken en andere commerciële bedrijven, mijnen, olievelden en installaties, kerncentrales. Maar het bedrijf is ook actief bij het geldtransport, in het gevangeniswezen, politiewerk, ambulancewerk, vluchtelingengevangenis en uitzettingen, huisarrest toezicht. G4S is op vele plaatsen doorgedrongen in de haarvaten van de samenleving. Een allround bedrijf, net als Schoen die van alle markten thuis is en overal kan aanschuiven.

Bij al die mediaoptredens werd Schoen sinds 2010 nooit iets over zijn eigen bedrijf gevraagd. Tijdens de elfde European Security Conference & Exhibition in april 2012 hield hij een lezing over ‘Olympic Terrorism Concerns – Past & Present’. Niemand in de zaal zal hem lastige vragen hebben gesteld over het aanstaande debacle dat G4S in de zomer van dat jaar ontketende. Het bedrijf bleek niet in staat om genoeg beveiligers te rekruteren en voor een deugdelijk veiligheidsplan te zorgen. Het Britse leger moest uiteindelijk uitrukken om de Olympische Spelen in Londen door te kunnen laten gaan.

Iedere burger kan bedenken dat een van de eerste vereisten voor het voorkomen van aanslagen een goede beveiliging is. Daar hoef je geen deskundige of expert voor te zijn. Schoen is nooit over het disfunctioneren van G4S bij de Olympische Spelen in Londen ondervraagd. Ook rond het WK voetbal in Zuid-Afrika (2010) en de Olympische Winterspelen (2014) is Schoen over terreurdreigingen in de media verschenen.

Schandalen

Na het fiasco rond de gebrekkige beveiliging rond de Olympische Spelen van 2012 in Londen stapelden de schandalen rond G4S zich op. De schandalen speelden zich vooral af in Engeland, maar dit is deels bedrog aangezien de Britse media veel publiceren over het bedrijf en haar medewerkers. Het gaat dan om uiteenlopende zaken, zoals het oplichten van de overheid bij een programma voor het controleren van mensen onder huisarrest. G4S heeft de overheid rekeningen gestuurd van mensen die allang geen huisarrest meer hadden, of die overleden waren.

De dood van een invalide man die werd vervoerd door een ambulance van G4S, het uitzetten van een zwangere vrouw die op het punt stond te bevallen, de dood van een vluchteling door toedoen van G4S-bewakers die de man voorafgaande ook nog racistisch zouden hebben bejegend, de slechte staat van de opvang voor asielzoekers waarbij de lokale overheid moest ingrijpen, zijn slechts enkele andere voorbeelden van de vele schandalen rond het bedrijf.

In het buitenland is het niet veel beter gesteld. G4S stuurde slecht getrainde labiele bewakers naar Irak die elkaar doodschoten en verwondden. In de VS konden mensen zomaar het terrein van een uraniumverrijkingsfabriek, beveiligd door G4S, oplopen. In Israël werkte G4S mee aan de afsluiting van de bezette gebieden, de West Bank en de Gaza-strook. Ook verzorgde het bedrijf de beveiliging van gevangenissen waar Palestijnse politiek gevangenen en kinderen worden opgesloten.

In Australië stierven vluchtelingen en gevangenen in de slecht geprivatiseerde gevangenissen van G4S, terwijl in Zuid-Afrika gevangenen werden gemarteld middels elektroshocks en plat spuiten. De meeste media schreven een nieuwsbericht over de martelingen en noemden G4S. In De Groene Amsterdammer beschrijft freelance-journalist Ruth Hopkins het onderzoek naar de behandeling van de gevangenen door G4S. Enkele media besteedden er iets meer aandacht aan, maar Glenn C. Schoen is in het openbaar nooit naar de situatie in de gevangenissen in Zuid-Afrika gevraagd.

Kritiekloze media

Begin dit jaar stonden de kranten vol van een personeelsstaking bij G4S wegens dreigende ontslagen. Dit als gevolg van de bezuinigingen en sluitingen van gevangenissen door het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie. Door middel van bezettingen, demonstraties en picket-lines probeerden de werknemers de directie van G4S op andere gedachten te brengen. De media-aandacht voor werknemers die worden ontslagen staat in schril contrast met de aandacht die de vele burger- en mensenrechtenschendingen door G4S krijgt.

Schoen’s regelmatige mediaoptredens blijven ondertussen gewoon doorgaan. Op 8 maart 2014 treedt hij op als veiligheidsdeskundige in het NOS radioprogramma Met het Oog op Morgen, zonder de vermelding dat hij voor G4S werkt. Hij wordt gevraagd naar de mogelijkheid van een terroristische aanslag op vlucht MH370 van Malaysia Airlines. Op 11 april 2014 zit hij in de uitzending van WNL Opiniemakers van de publieke omroep over het feit dat er geen particuliere beveiligers worden toegelaten op Nederlandse koopvaardijschepen.

Tussendoor verschijnt er een interview met hem op de G4S website. Schoen geeft daarin aan dat “G4S zowel in een adviesrol als een operationele rol betrokken was bij de NSS. Als kleine schakel in een enorme operatie, heb ik persoonlijk invulling mogen geven aan de adviseursrol.” Naast zijn eigen ‘bescheiden’ rol, noemt Schoen ook de rol van het gehele bedrijf waar hij voor werkt. “Naast de massale inzet van politie en defensie, droegen ook veel beveiligers uit de private sector een steentje bij op het gebied van security en safety. G4S leverde ongeveer 1.100 extra diensten tijdens de NSS”, wordt uit de mond van Schoen opgetekend.

Natuurlijk wordt Schoen niet gevraagd waarom G4S eigenlijk niet de gehele beveiliging heeft mogen uitvoeren. Het Olympisch debacle zal G4S zo snel mogelijk willen vergeten. Over wat er dan met de adviezen van Schoen is gebeurd, wil de tekstschrijver van de website van G4S ook al niet weten, maar het artikel is dan ook bedoeld als promotie van de beveiligingsbranche en specifiek G4S.

Toch is er niet zoveel verschil tussen het optreden van Glenn C. Schoen op de website van G4S en zijn optreden in de Nederlandse media. Waarom de beveiliger met alle egards wordt ontvangen, lijkt minder met zijn expertise te maken te hebben dan met zijn onkritische houding ten aanzien van de veiligheidsstaat. Als beveiliger is het logisch om de wereld als het inferno van Dante te omschrijven, hoe gevaarlijker, hoe meer business. Voor de journalistiek lijkt in principe hetzelfde uitgangspunt te gelden. Geweld en ellende verkopen nu eenmaal beter dan het verhaal dat de meerderheid van de Nederlanders elke dag zonder problemen zal doorkomen.

Toch verwacht je van de journalistiek wel enige mate van feitenonderzoek, en op z’n minst dat de achtergrond van de ‘deskundige’ of ‘expert’ expliciet wordt vermeld. Het weglaten van de naam van het bedrijf waar Schoen voor werkt, geeft eigenlijk aan dat de media niet geïnteresseerd is in de werkelijke feiten ten aanzien van de veiligheid, maar graag een mening wil horen die overeenkomt met die van de journalist. Bij de berichtgeving over het veiligheidsbeleid in Nederland of elders wordt bijna nooit voor een kritische insteek gekozen. Het optreden van Schoen in de media is daar dan ook een schoolvoorbeeld van.

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Damaging scandals are raising questions on how the third-largest listed private sector employer runs its empire

G4S’s Marcus Bloomfield in front of a ‘Street to Suite’ custody van in Boston, Lincolnshire

On an overcast Friday evening on a rundown suburban street in Boston, Lincolnshire, a part-time plumber and a retired policeman are sitting in a large white van outside a cell-block, waiting to hear from the police. In black bulletproof vests, smart black trousers and white shirts, they look like police officers. But their van is emblazoned with the words “G4S – working with local policing” and the epaulettes on their uniforms carry the red, white and black logo of the private security company above that of Lincolnshire Police.

This is the frontline of part-privatised policing, where police officers still make the arrests but G4S staff go to the scene, drive offenders away, and later process them for fingerprints and other paperwork in the company’s own “custody suites”. “We tell offenders we are just a taxi service,” says Julian Davis, the ex-policeman on duty for G4S. “It helps defuse the tension.”

To critics, the police authority’s 10-year contract with G4S looks more like a time bomb that could destroy an increasingly fragile consensus about where the limits of private security lie. For G4S, however, such potentially explosive deals with the public sector – in Britain and abroad – are a treasure-chest, which it wants to prise open further.
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That contradiction underlines the challenges facing an organisation of a scale and scope rarely seen in the private sector since the 18th century, when the East India Company ran its own army, ruled large parts of the British empire and implemented some of the most controversial government policies of the age. From “The Manor”, its modern black-and-white headquarters in Crawley in West Sussex, G4S employs 620,500 staff in 115 countries, pursuing a vision that was laid out by its ambitious, marathon-running former chief executive Nick Buckles during a decade of aggressive expansion. That vision is summed up in the company’s slogan “Securing Your World”.

The bulk of its business involves supplying private guards for commercial and residential property, stewards for large events – from The Rolling Stones’ appearance this year in Hyde Park to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament – and armoured vans to carry cash from stores to banks and from banks to cash machines. But G4S armed guards also protect ships against piracy off Somalia, while its uniformed employees screen airline passengers in Vancouver, Canada, manage detention centres where immigrants are held before deportation, clean hospitals, and install and monitor security systems.
©James Dodd/Statement Images

A branded epaulette is the only obvious difference between G4S support services employee Laura Greenley (right) and Sergeant Wills at Boston Police Station

Excluding state-controlled groups, G4S is the third largest listed private-sector employer in the world, behind only Walmart, with 2.2 million staff, and Hon Hai (which trades as Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer of devices such as Apple iPads), with 1.3 million. The only employer to rival G4S for ubiquity is McDonald’s: 1.8 million people work there but most are employed in its fast-food franchises. It is an apt parallel. Academics have pointed to the growth of G4S and large rivals as evidence of the “McDonaldisation” of private security – a reference to sociologist George Ritzer’s theory that many products and services are now supplied, like burgers in buns, by multinationals that put a premium on efficiency, standardisation, predictability and control.

But G4S’s control over its empire has slipped. Buckles stepped down in May, hit by the triple blows of a failed takeover of ISS, a Danish outsourcing group, an embarrassing failure to supply enough security guards for last year’s Olympics and a profit warning. The pressure on his successor – the more technocratic Ashley Almanza – remains intense. The government has prompted a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into alleged overcharging by G4S and rival Serco for electronic tagging of prisoners, some of whom had left the country, returned to prison or even died.

In July, an inquest jury recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for an Angolan, Jimmy Mubenga, who died after being restrained by three G4S security guards as he was being deported. A report into Oakwood prison, Staffordshire, run by G4S since 2012, revealed a serious drugs problem and shortages of clean clothing and basic toiletries (G4S blamed “teething problems”). Abroad, former G4S prison guards have claimed they oversaw forced injections and electric shocks at a South African maximum-security jail once lauded as a model.

Such high-profile, high-risk, high-margin contracts are still a vital part of G4S strategy. Work that puts staff in the line of fire is lucrative, and where Britain has led – fuelling the group’s growth over more than 20 years through privatisation of vital services in a sector the National Audit Office estimates is worth £93.5bn a year – G4S expects other countries to follow. “The true benefits of globalisation and being larger [are] that you can bring expertise to markets that aren’t familiar with the products and services you’ve developed in the UK,” Buckles says. According to Almanza, fighting to convince investors he can sustain G4S’s growth, its emerging markets business should continue to expand more strongly than its activities in the rest of the world.
©James Dodd/Statement Images

G4S’s Clare Heyes checking CCTV feeds from cells at Boston Police Station

But G4S’s ability to standardise and control such work only goes so far. As current and former executives concede, some of what G4S and its large rivals do will always give rise to highly public, sometimes violent, confrontation. Strict controls on cost may push already low wages down, increasing pressure on staff. Governments could also lose their appetite for privatisation and outsourcing. If managed too loosely, the group’s riskier activities could threaten the reputation and future of G4S as a whole, as its global presence could backfire. After years of expansion is G4S now simply too big, too complex and too risky to manage?

. . .

The trail to the modern world of private security starts with a Danish company called Kjøbenhavn Frederiksberg Nattevagt – the Copenhagen-Frederiksberg Night Watch – set up by drapery wholesaler Marius Hogrefe in 1901 with 20 guards. Three large companies, which together now employ nearly 1.5 million people, trace their histories back to this point. One is ISS – the Danish service company that G4S failed to buy two years ago. The others are the two global rivals in guarding, Securitas of Sweden and G4S itself.

Buckles was the architect of G4S. He started at Securicor (eventually the “S” in G4S) in 1985 as a project accountant but as early as the 1990s, he saw that size would be an asset in the business. His approach and appearance were not that of the typical leader of a blue-chip business. According to the head of one G4S subsidiary based outside the UK, when he first glimpsed Buckles at a regional management meeting about three years ago, the chief executive was wearing light-coloured trousers and loafers; with his long hair and open-neck shirt, he “looked more like Elvis than a CEO”. In person he was – and remains – engaging. Another G4S executive, based in Asia, says Buckles “had this ability to know you – he would always make sure that he spent time with all of his senior managers at any opportunity he could get”.

As chief executive of Securicor, Buckles helped broker a 2004 deal with Group 4 Falck, a direct Danish descendant of Hogrefe’s Copenhagen Night Watch. The Danish group was larger than the British company but within a year, Buckles, then aged 44, had become head of what was now Group 4 Securicor. Kean Marden, a London-based equity analyst with Jefferies, the investment bank, says: “Nick Buckles was good at planting flags on the map.” That is an understatement. Backed by a highly loyal and close-knit group of executives, Buckles aggressively pushed for rapid expansion. In the nine years to 2013, the group spent about £1.5bn and gobbled up more than 70 companies. The deal drive took G4S into new territory and brought an extraordinary array of sensitive security businesses, big and small, into the empire, including ArmorGroup, whose armed staff protect UK diplomats in Afghanistan and clear mines in Iraq, and Nuclear Security Services, which supplies security systems to nuclear, oil and chemical plants. Until Almanza said he would rein in the deals, the group kept £200m in an annual takeover war chest.
©Kalpesh Lathigra

Nick Buckles, former CEO: ‘There’s no difference in our service delivery today than 10 years ago – it’s probably better – it’s just that people are after us’

The Buckles strategy more than doubled G4S’s share price between 2004 and 2011 and made it a stock market favourite. His expansionist approach, however, did not go down well everywhere. “We have always heard that the goal is to be the largest private-sector employer in the world,” says the head of the G4S subsidiary. “What kind of metric is that? It’s size not quality. If you look at the environment they are operating in, in second-, third-tier countries, risks are very high; the opportunities for unethical behaviour are extremely high and, quite frankly, I think the business acumen of a lot of these folks is in question.”

In one area, though, the acumen of G4S managers is not in doubt. They are extremely adept contract bidders and negotiators. They honed this skill during years competing for public-sector business, after Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government introduced competitive tendering and private construction and management of hospitals, transport links and prisons in the 1980s. The policy helped drive smaller companies from the field – or into the arms of bigger outsourcing companies, which were better equipped to take on the potential liabilities. “The government really was the market maker in this industry,” says Dame DeAnne Julius, who wrote a report on outsourcing for the last British government in 2008 and used to be a director of fellow outsourcer Serco.

Ronald van Steden of VU University Amsterdam, an adviser to the Dutch government and co-author of a paper on how security companies have expanded and adapted, chameleon-like, to local jurisdictions, says: “Because there’s no debate and nobody really cares about it, [the security companies] follow a salami technique: slicing off a small part of public services to see how far they can go.” There is a further consequence: policy makers “are not always fully aware of the magnitude of the sector”.

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By the time Labour took power under Tony Blair in 1997, the idea of privatised public services was firmly embedded, despite early mistakes such as the episode in 1993 when a number of prisoners escaped from Group 4’s custody within weeks of the start of its contract to escort inmates. “Nobody was very impressed with G4S,” admits a former adviser to the UK government in the 2000s, “but nobody was very impressed with the UK Border officers or the Prison and Probation Service either. [G4S] only had to seem to be outperforming [them] rather than being a Rolls-Royce.”

This week, the National Audit Office warned about lack of transparency in government contracts with companies such as G4S and Serco and said the rise of a few major contractors needed to be scrutinised. But G4S and its rivals are not entirely to blame for the way the market has evolved, though they have profited from it. The government failed to co-ordinate or share information about early contracts, and the UK Treasury under Gordon Brown – the natural regulator of such activity – pushed to outsource more. Tom Gash, who was a senior crime policy adviser in Blair’s strategy unit and is now director of research at the Institute for Government, a think-tank, says: “There’s a pernicious public sector contracting dynamic: what you have had historically is often highly politicised drives towards outsourcing, with a heavy focus on doing the deal quickly and delivering success, not [on] how do we set up the market so it delivers in the long term.”
©Getty

Armed forces step in to secure the 2012 London Olympics

By December 2010, when the ill-fated Olympic security contract was signed, G4S was one of the few companies that could possibly have handled it. Then, in 2011, having secured the Olympics job, Buckles’ ambition hit a wall. He mounted a £5.2bn offer for ISS, G4S’s long-lost Danish cousin. The deal would have doubled the group’s size and moved it firmly into cleaning and facilities management. But previously loyal investors forced him to withdraw the bid. Just eight months later, Buckles faced further embarrassment when a shortfall in trained security staff for the London Olympics obliged the UK to mobilise armed forces personnel to assist. In front of a parliamentary committee that was hostile even by the Roman circus standards of such hearings, Buckles – who admits now he went into the committee room exhausted and unprepared – agreed with members of parliament that the prestigious contract had turned into “a humiliating shambles”. Two senior executives resigned and, following a profit warning in May this year, Buckles himself finally stepped down with a £16m package, including deferred pay, his pension and G4S shares.

Almanza – who was brought into the group as chief financial officer and promoted within a month – looks like the anti-Buckles. Where Buckles’ public persona is marked by blokeish bonhomie and grand ambition, Almanza’s style is buttoned-up and austere, with occasional flashes of dry humour. Buckles is a football fan; Almanza is a keen follower of rugby union. In his pomp, Buckles was known for his collar-length hair; Almanza is bald. Yet, as the new chief executive is starting to discover, many of the challenges he faces are the same as those that ultimately did for his predecessor.

. . .

Buckles’ most significant legacy is G4S’s global brand, imposed in 2005, when the group was already present in more than 100 countries, with 410,000 staff. He says the rationale was that it would help to raise standards and wages in the sectors that G4S served. Local companies “aren’t going to do [the job] as efficiently, with as much control and process as we do, because our reputation is at risk. So going into developing markets and establishing much stronger methods of security than they would otherwise get is a massive positive.” After that point, if managers came to him with the idea of exploring risky new areas, saying, “Don’t worry, we won’t brand it G4S,” Buckles says he would respond, “In that case, don’t do it.”
©PA

Buckles apologising to MPs for the 2012 Olympics ‘shambles’ when the company failed to supply enough security staff

The brand values include “the G4S Way” – common standards and practices including “service excellence” and ethics, reputation and crisis management. The GMB union, which represents 25,000 of the 45,000 G4S workers in the UK, compares the group favourably with other employers in the still-fragmented security sector. In India, for example, where all new recruits are paid more than the minimum wage, G4S guards get two weeks of classroom training at one of 31 schools around the country and two weeks’ training onsite and the chance to rise through the ranks to branch manager and beyond. “If you have ability, there’s possibility,” says the Asia-based G4S executive, pointing to G4S’s role in raising standards.

Although the G4S logo is omnipresent, the boots-on-the-ground nature of most of G4S’s business means most specific problems are handled locally – and usually don’t reverberate beyond the local market. Responsibility to “do the right thing lies quite heavily on our managers”, says the same executive, “down to the branch manager [who is] like a mini-managing director with profit and loss responsibilities”.

But for some G4S businesses, the brand is a handicap. One former executive, who used to sell expensive consulting services, says the logo was “troublesome” when trying to win business because “it stands for men in ill-fitting uniforms standing outside shopping centres or offices – in some parts of Africa, wearing flip-flops”.

Anthony Minnaar, who heads the security management programme at the University of South Africa (Unisa) and studies the global market for security services, says that while rival companies put their guards through Unisa’s professional development courses, few of G4S’s employees take part. “For them to just claim that they are assisting with the professionalisation of the guarding sector is nonsense,” he insists. G4S says that it is governed by the Private Security Regulations Authority and that all training is accredited before a guard gets a licence.

The most sensitive part of G4S’s South African business, however, is not guarding but prison management. Last month, South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services decided G4S had “lost effective control” of the Mangaung prison, accusing the company of using “uncertified security staff to perform custodial duties”. An investigation by the Wits Justice Project at the University of Witwatersrand, which interviewed former G4S guards, alleged they used electric shocks and forced injections to impose control. Andy Baker, G4S Africa’s regional president, strongly denies the allegations and says he expects “full management control [to] return to G4S once the current instability has abated”.
©Wits Justice Project

The company is under fire for alleged excesses by guards at Mangaung prison in South Africa

One former South Africa-based executive blames a change in the way the prison was overseen after G4S took on the jail in 2008 through an acquisition. After years in which control of the budget and local management had been handled by UK-based experts in correctional services, G4S switched to a system of devolved oversight by Africa regional heads, who have responsibility for all G4S activities on the continent. The change was “quite uncomfortable”, says this former executive, as budget considerations for differing activities clashed. “If I’m guarding a casino, I’ll have particular costs, which are tangible,” says the former executive. “If I’m running a prison, I’ll spend money on rehabilitation and other things that are less tangible.”

Campaigners have jumped on the Mangaung crisis as further evidence of a company failing to live up to its own promise to raise standards. “G4S is interested in cosmetic changes at the top level, but we haven’t seen any changes at the level [where] workers are being managed,” says Rafeef Ziadah, a senior campaigns officer at War on Want, which is pushing for stronger global oversight of security companies under the aegis of the United Nations.

Highly publicised failures, as well as the threat of greater regulation, could also erode G4S’s business and undermine the lucrative public outsourcing market, which is already stalling in some areas. A recent critical report by the US-based Sentencing Project could find only 11 countries, including the UK, US and South Africa, with any form of prison privatisation. David Hall, former director of the University of Greenwich’s Public Services International Research Unit, says privatisation and outsourcing are no longer “badges of international respectability” for governments. “In developing countries, as in Europe, in terms of general political trends . . . the momentum is no longer with the private side,” he says. “It is at best stalled, at worst . . . going backwards.” Even in the UK, sensitive outsourcing plans for areas such as defence procurement (where G4S is not involved) and probation services (where it is) are now under even more intense political and public scrutiny.

That G4S is now a whipping boy is galling for Buckles, who refers to the company as if he still works there and clearly remains proud of the group. “There’s no difference in our service delivery today than 10 years ago – it’s probably better – it’s just that people are after us,” he says.

His replacement sees the situation slightly differently. Asked about Buckles’ supposedly “hands-on” style, Almanza is careful not to criticise his predecessor directly but says: “I don’t think management has been hands-on at a corporate level [and] although I think there was a distributed operating model, at the centre in the executive team, decision-making was very concentrated.”

G4S’s size should not be a management challenge. “They aren’t managing 620,000 people, they’re managing 6,200 contracts and they can do that perfectly simply,” comments Hall. Almanza says he asked himself, “Is G4S too big to manage?” when he joined the group. But he points out that most of the high-profile problems faced by G4S in the past two years should have been overseen close to home, including the abortive ISS merger, the Olympics contract and the UK electronic tagging deal, where G4S and Serco are alleged to have overcharged the government by tens of millions of pounds.

Even so, by granting a large amount of autonomy to individual managers on the most sensitive contracts, G4S ran a risk that corners would be cut. The former G4S risk consultant recalls his unit “scrambling to get a yes or no [from headquarters] only 24 hours before tendering” for potentially risky contracts. Hall, citing the Serious Fraud Office’s tagging probe, says companies such as G4S should “expect a recurrence of these kinds of issues because . . . [they have] people operating a contract within a clear financial framework, set by the parent company [and they] have work that is highly sensitive and political”.
©Mike Abrahams

Ashley Almanza , G4S CEO: ‘It’s the nature of the business that we can hit the ball out of the park for 364 days of the year and on the last day of the year something goes wrong’

Almanza knows he must stop cracks in the brand from spreading. He says he has tightened assessment of the most complex and risky contracts. G4S now flies in executives with specific expertise to vet big, difficult deals. Almanza himself is demanding more information about who will take charge of such operations on the ground. In one recent case, he asked to see the organisational chart to assess the competence of the local management team.

He has strong financial reasons for clinging on to such work. What G4S calls “care and justice” – which covers both police and prison work – accounts for less than 10 per cent of group revenue but new contracts earn margins of more than 15 per cent, higher than for more mundane guarding. In return, G4S accepts that “stuff happens” – which is exactly what enrages campaigners and increasingly disquiets politicians.

At an investor meeting earlier this month, an analyst asked Almanza an unusually direct question for these normally anodyne sessions: is G4S at the stage where it is not worth putting shareholders’ money into some high-profile frontline contracts? The chief executive’s reply was equally direct: “We don’t think that’s the case.” He added: “We do difficult things sometimes in difficult places . . . It’s the nature of the business that we can . . . hit the ball out of the park for 364 days of the year and on the last day of the year something goes wrong.”

His response hints at an uncomfortable truth. When uniformed staff – however tightly supervised – are placating violent prisoners, tackling pirates or even fingerprinting drunks, the situation will occasionally get out of hand. Sometimes people will be hurt or could even die.

. . .
©James Dodd/Statement Images

The G4S ‘police’. G4S support staff Beth Pearce (taking calls) and David Blunkett (staffing reception) at Boston Police Station, Lincolnshire

Near the bottom of the organisational diagram, the challenges for G4S have a human face. In Lincolnshire, many of the men and women who now embody the company were transferred from the police force as part of the deal. Even if cells are now called “custody suites”, the uniformed staff behind the desk in Boston, waiting for the Friday night influx of offenders, are the same people as before. They joined the police because they wanted to contribute to society.

Lincolnshire Police says the G4S collaboration has improved emergency call response rates, saved time – freeing police to get back on the beat – and cut costs. But the year preparing for the transfer to G4S was, as Clare Heyes-Bowden, a custody suite worker and the union representative, puts it, “one of the most stressful I’d lived through . . . People were concerned that our jobs would be replaced by people who were cheaper. The feeling was that G4S would get us in the long run.” In fact, on the day, all that changed were her epaulettes. But she may yet be right about the long-term trend.

Laura Greenley, a senior custody detention officer, is keen to point out improvements since G4S came in: better communication, a new staff kitchen area, modernised cells. But she admits that with just two people on duty, and the cells usually full on a Friday night, the job is stressful. There is a rubber strip on the walls, which, if pushed in an emergency, will contact the nearest police station. But that assumes officers are there to heed the alarm. Often, they are out on a call.

With G4S in control, many new staff will be paid less than existing workers for doing the same job. Current G4S staff earn about £26,000 a year. Replacement jobs are being advertised at a rate that is £7,000 lower, in line with more menial and less stressful supermarket jobs. Clare Heyes-Bowden says would not reapply on those terms. “I wouldn’t do this job for £19,000,” she says. “I could stack shelves in Tesco for that.”

——————————————-

Andrew Hill is an FT associate editor and management editor. Gill Plimmer is an FT correspondent. To comment, email magazineletters@ft.com

This article was amended since the original publication to reflect the fact that the quote in the final paragraph was from Clare Heyes-Bowden.

November 14, 2013 11:00 pm
By Andrew Hill and Gill Plimmer

Find this story at 14 November 2013

© The Financial Times Ltd 2013 FT and ‘Financial Times’ are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.

Jimmy Mubenga’s unlawful killing was a death waiting to happen

Jimmy Mubenga’s inquest has shed light on the murky world of the privatised deportation business

A protest against the treatment of Jimmy Mubenga outside the Home Office in London. Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

The inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga uncovered a shocking story of a cruel deportation system, of racism and inhumanity, and of a state seemingly unwilling to prosecute those who abuse and misuse their powers. The verdict of unlawful killing is an honest reflection of the evidence heard.

Mubenga died on 12 October 2010 on a British Airways flight bound for Angola, the country of his birth. He was being deported after being convicted of involvement in a pub fight, his first and only offence. He had been in the UK since 1994, and left behind a wife and five children, all of whom were born in the UK and are now British citizens. A committed family man, he was a regular at the school gates for the children.

Mubenga died a terrifying death while being restrained by three G4S guards in his aeroplane seat, belted and handcuffed behind his back. The restraint up to 40 minutes; this took place in front of passengers and BA crew, but no one intervened or gave first aid. That was left to the London Ambulance Service, who valiantly tried to save his life but by the time they arrived it was too late.

The investigation into his death was bungled from the outset. The guards were taken to Heathrow police station where senior G4S management, including a former Metropolitan chief superintendent, attended. The guards were not questioned but released and taken to a hotel where in the same room, and with senior management present, they wrote up their accounts. These claimed Mubenga had forced himself forward in his seat, causing his own death.

A different story came to light in the Guardian days later. Passengers described Mubenga being forced face forward in his seat by the guards, shouting that he couldn’t breathe, that he was being killed and pleading for help. Pathologists gave evidence that his death was caused by restraint and that you couldn’t “restrain yourself to death”. The matter was passed to the homicide squad. The guards were arrested and on two of their phones extreme racist texts were found. After almost two years the Crown Prosecution Service decided, inexplicably to the family, not to bring charges – the latest in a series of failures to prosecute over deaths in state custody.

At the inquest the reality of the murky private removals industry emerged, where deportations are a business for profit with multimillion-pound contracts. G4S was paid by the hour, and if a deportation failed profits were hit. The guards’ wages were dependent on the hours worked. It was important to “get the job away” and they were given incentives for successful removals.

Deportations could fail if the deportee made too much of a commotion and the pilot asked the guards to get off the plane. So a technique called “carpet karaoke” was developed by guards to silence deportees. They would push a seated and belted deportee forward so that would “sing to the carpet” and their shouts, screams and cries would be muffled. It is a potentially lethal, and illegal, technique as it affects the ability to breathe and was explicitly banned by G4S. The restraint described by passengers pointed to this banned technique, with Mubenga forced forward by guards while in his seat, his voice appearing to be projected downwards and gradually becoming quieter.

G4S no longer has the contract for overseas escorting – though escorts and senior managers remain the same. Before Mubenga’s death, there had already been allegations of ill-treatment, racism, and excessive and dangerous use of force by private security contractors during forced removals. The Home Office is responsible for supervision and oversight of the contracts, so it has questions to answer. There are also concerns arising from the relationship between the state and private companies, with senior employees retiring from one to reappear in the other.

A death such as Jimmy Mubenga’s was waiting to happen. A man died in a public space while all around him people did nothing. Will the response to this inquest bring any change?

Deborah Coles and Mark Scott
The Guardian, Tuesday 9 July 2013 16.05 BST

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Deported Angolan Jimmy Mubenga ‘unlawfully killed’ on flight, jury rules as CPS reconsiders charges for G4S guards

An Angolan man who died after being restrained by three guards from the security firm G4S as he was being deported from Britain was unlawfully killed, a jury ruled, prompting the Crown Prosecution Service to reconsider its decision not to bring criminal charges.
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Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died on board a British Airways flight bound for Angola in October 2010. At the end of an eight-week inquest, the jury recorded a majority verdict of nine to one of unlawful killing after four days of deliberations.

The decision prompted an emotional response from Mr Mubenga’s wife, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, who had been living with her late husband in Ilford, east London, after arriving in the UK from Angola in 1994. Outside the court she said that Mr Mubenga had been treated “worse than an animal” on the flight. She called for deportations to be better monitored.

She added: “Someone walked onto a plane feeling fine and came out of the plane dead. How can my family live with this pain?”

During the inquest, the jury heard that Mr Mubenga had been calling out for help as the three guards – Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler – restrained him for nearly half an hour. Several passengers said they heard him shouting that he could not breathe and that he was crying out: “They’re going to kill me.”

In evidence, the guards claimed they had not heard Mr Mubenga remarking he was unable to breathe and insisted he had been resting his head on the seat in front and intermittently forcing it down towards his knees as he was being restrained.

But counsel for Mr Mubenga’s family, Henry Blaxland QC, suggested that the guards had been trying to “teach Mubenga a lesson”. He said the trio had been pushing his head down in an attempt to keep him quiet and fabricated the story that he was doing it himself.

The inquest heard the three guards were subsequently arrested “on suspicion of criminal offences” relating to Mr Mubenga’s death, but last year – 21 months after his death – the CPS decided not to press charges and no further action was taken.

G4S maintained that its staff were “trained… and vetted to the standards defined by strict Home Office guidelines”. A spokeswoman added: “The death of anyone in our care is deeply felt by all of us and the death of Mr Mubenga was a very tragic event.

“The welfare of those in our care is always our top priority and we take great care to ensure that our employees on this contract, which has been carried out by another provider since November 2011, were made aware of their responsibilities in this respect.”

Scotland Yard said a thorough and complex 21-month investigation was carried out by its Homicide and Serious Crime Command into Mr Mubenga’s death. During the inquiry, more than 300 witness statements were taken from passengers, cabin crew, ground staff and first responders from the emergency services.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Mubenga’s family. We are very clear that we expect the highest standards of integrity and behaviour from all of our contractors.”

Kunal Dutta
Tuesday 09 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© independent.co.uk

Jimmy Mubenga was unlawfully killed, inquest jury finds

Angolan man died after being restrained by G4S guards on deportation flight from UK

Jimmy Mubenga was heard shouting that he could not breathe before he died, according to passengers on the flight. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

An Angolan man who died after being restrained by three G4S guards as he was being deported from the UK was unlawfully killed, a jury has found.

Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died on board a plane at Heathrow airport that was bound for Angola in October 2010. At the end of an eight-week inquest, a jury of seven men and three women recorded a majority verdict of nine to one of unlawful killing after four days of deliberations.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it would reconsider its original decision not to bring criminal charges in the wake of the verdict.

The inquest heard that Mubenga had been calling out for help as the three guards – Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler – heavily restrained him for more than half an hour. Several passengers said they heard him shouting that he could not breathe and that he was crying out: “They’re going to kill me.”

Returning the verdict of unlawful killing, the jury foreman said: “Based on the evidence we have heard, we find that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down by one or more of the guards, causing his breathing to be impeded. We find that they were using unreasonable force and acting in an unlawful manner. The fact that Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down, or a combination of the two, was a significant, that is more than minimal, cause of death.

“The guards, we believe, would have known that they would have caused Mr Mubenga harm in their actions, if not serious harm. We believe that Mr Mubenga died in his seat … before the paramedics boarded the plane.”

The inquest heard that as the plane began to taxi on to the runway the guards said Mubenga became tired and stopped shouting. The guards said they realised something was wrong and the plane returned to the stand and paramedics were called. Mubenga was pronounced dead a short time later.

Outside the court Mubenga’s widow, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, said her late husband had been treated “worse than an animal” on the flight. Calling him a good man and a loving husband, she called for deportations to be better monitored. “He is a big gap in the family. We are going to miss him. We are not going to forget him.”

In evidence, the guards claimed they had not heard Mubenga saying he could not breathe and insisted he had been resting his head on the seat in front and intermittently forcing it down towards his knees as he was being restrained – a position known to carry a risk of death by asphyxia.

But counsel for Mubenga’s family, Henry Blaxland QC, suggested to Hughes that the guards had been trying to “teach Mubenga a lesson”. He said the three guards had been pushing Mubenga’s head down in an attempt to keep him quiet and had only “come up with” the story that Mubenga was forcing his own head down to explain what passengers on the plane would have seen.

The inquest heard the three guards were subsequently arrested “on suspicion of criminal offences” relating to Mubenga’s death, but last year – 21 months after his death – the CPS decided not to press charges and no further action was taken.

During the hearing it emerged that two of the guards – Hughes and Tribelnig – had a string of racist “jokes” on their phone. Hughes’s phone had 65 texts containing what the coroner Karon Monaghan QC said contained “very racially offensive material”.

A G4S spokesman said: “The death of anyone in our care is deeply felt by all of us and the death of Mr Mubenga was a very tragic event.

“The welfare of those in our care is always our top priority and we take great care to ensure that our employees on this contract, which has been carried out by another provider since November 2011, were made aware of their responsibilities in this respect. Our employees were also trained, screened and vetted to the standards defined by strict Home Office guidelines.

“We believe that at all times we acted appropriately and in full compliance with the terms of our contract with UKBA and it should be noted that the Crown Prosecution Service found no basis on which to bring criminal charges against G4S in this case.

“It would not be appropriate for us to comment on behalf of our former employees, who were separately represented throughout these proceedings.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Mubenga’s family. We are very clear that we expect the highest standards of integrity and behaviour from all of our contractors.”

There has been widespread concern about the way people are removed from the UK, with repeated allegations of mistreatment and assaults of detainees. The contract is now run by Tascor, and current guards who have spoken to the Guardian say there is still inadequate training for new recruits. One who did not want to be named said a number of detainees had been punched and assaulted by guards on a recent charter flight to Lagos.

A spokesman for Tascor said it could not comment on anonymous claims, but added that it focused on “delivering a professional service to its clients while ensuring its methods of operations are compliant with the relevant statutory regulations”.

Matthew Taylor, Paul Lewis and Guy Grandjean
theguardian.com, Tuesday 9 July 2013 14.58 BST

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Jimmy Mubenga security guards had racist jokes on their mobile phones

Inquest hears jokes deriding blacks, Asians and Muslims when G4S officers are asked to read from their mobile phones

Jimmy Mubenga with his wife Adrienne. He died while being restrained on an aircraft as G4S officers were trying to deport him. Photograph: PA

A G4S security guard who was restraining an Angolan man who died as he was being deported from the UK had 65 racist jokes on his mobile phone when it was seized by police.

Terry Hughes, one of three detention custody officers in charge of Jimmy Mubenga’s forced deportation in October 2010, was told at an inquest at Isleworth crown court on Friday to read out a selection of the texts, which included offensive language directed at black, Asian and Muslim people.

Karon Monaghan QC, the assistant deputy coroner for Hammersmith, west London, said the texts contained “very racially offensive material”. The court heard that some of the texts had been sent by other detention custody officers.

Hughes is the second G4S officer involved in Mubenga’s case to be found with racist jokes on his mobile phone. This week, Stuart Tribelnig was found to have a string of texts deriding black, Pakistani and Muslim men.

When questioned in court, Hughes and Tribelnig said they had not read all the texts, although both had forwarded some of the material. They also said they did not know how to or never bothered to delete texts from their phones. Hughes said that, although the texts suggested “a great deal of racial hostility”, he was not at all racially hostile.

Mubenga, 46, died on a plane at Heathrow as it waited on the runway. He had been restrained by three G4S officers – Hughes, Tribelnig and Colin Kaler – for about 35 minutes.

The Angolan had been in the UK since 1994 and lived in London with his family. He was convicted of actual bodily harm in 2006, and a decision was taken to deport him at the end of his sentence. By September 2010 the appeals process had expired. Two weeks later he boarded the plane at Heathrow, at about 7.30pm, accompanied by the three G4S guards.

Once on the plane he was allowed to go to the toilet and use a mobile phone. The guards said he had acted as a gentleman up to that point. However, the jury was told that shortly afterwards he began a struggle in an attempt to get the deportation cancelled.

Hughes described how the three guards had tried to restrain him by using handcuffs and forcing him to sit in his seat. He said Mubenga at some stages had his head below the level of the television screen on the back of the chair in front, but insisted it was Mubenga himself who had forced his body into that position, one that is known to carry the danger of asphyxiation.

Hughes told the court Mubenga was shouting thoughout the restraint although he could not remember what Mubenga was saying. But in an earlier police interview read out in court he had said: “All the time Jimmy is shouting and screaming, ‘They are killing me – I am going to my death’.” After hearing the statement, Hughes accepted that Mubenga “must have been shouting that”.

Henry Blaxland QC, representing Mubenga’s family, asked Hughes whether Mubenga had complained about being unable to breathe during the struggle and whether one of the guards had replied: “If you cannot breathe how can you talk?”

Hughes said he did not remember that exchange taking place.

Blaxland asked if Hughes and the other guards had been trying to “teach Mubenga a lesson” after he had betrayed their trust by starting the struggle on the aircraft.

Hughes denied the allegation and also denied that any of the guards had pushed Mubenga’s head down during the struggle, insisting that Mubenga forced his own head down.

But Blaxland asked Hughes if he and the other guards had “come up with this” to explain what passengers on the plane might have seen: “Were you trying to come up with an explanation for what you thought people would have seen – a man bent double in his seat?”

“No sir,” replied Hughes.

Blaxland said the truth was that the guards had been pushing Mubenga down. Hughes again replied: “No sir.”

The struggle between the guards and Mubenga continued for more than half an hour before Mubenga went quiet and Hughes thought he had become “resigned” to returning to Angola.

However, he said the guards realised something was wrong before the plane took off and raised the alarm. The plane taxied back to the terminal stand, where emergency teams were called.

Mubenga was pronounced dead some time later.

In court Hughes broke down as he recalled the moment, that evening, when police told him Mubenga had died, and the inquest had to be suspended.

He was asked by counsel for Mubenga’s family if he had been crying because he knew he had caused the death. He replied: “Not at all, sir, no.”

The three guards were subsequently arrested “on suspicion of criminal offences” relating to Mubenga’s death. However, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges and no further action was taken.

The inquest, which is due to last eight weeks, continues.

Matthew Taylor
The Guardian, Friday 17 May 2013 16.14 BST

Find this story at 17 May 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Jimmy Mubenga: Questions raised over flight guidelines for deportations

BA long-haul pilot tells Guardian it was a mistake to keep Mubenga on board once he began struggling with his escorts

Jimmy Mubenga died during deportation from the UK. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

The use of commercial aircraft to transport deportees has been called into question by a British Airways pilot following the death of Jimmy Mubenga.

A BA long-haul pilot told the Guardian that it was a mistake to keep Mubenga on board a passenger service once he began struggling with his escorts. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the pilot said that the prospect of restraining a passenger for the duration of a nine-hour flight would have been unacceptable to senior crew.

“We are legally responsible for safety, security and good order on board our aircraft. We must act if any of those are at risk. If the passenger is not accepting the situation he has been placed in, then a scheduled passenger aircraft is clearly not an appropriate method of transport. Besides, you cannot hold someone in their seat for eight to nine hours down to Luanda, and you certainly cannot restrain them for eight to nine hours.”

A BA spokesperson said the airline was obliged to carry deportees under the 1971 Immigration Act if the Home Office requested it. “Like all airlines, we must comply with the UK deportation law under the 1971 Immigration Act.” Virgin Atlantic and BMI have also transported deportees this year, while in 2009 nearly 2,000 people were deported on charter flights to destinations including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

The government has spent more than £100m on flights deporting failed asylum seekers, foreign nationals and immigration offenders in the last five years. In 2008-9 alone, £8.2m was spent on chartered flights and £18.6m on scheduled flights – a total of £26.8m and up from £20.4m the previous year.

According to BA guidelines on carrying deportees, Mubenga should have been treated as a normal passenger unless he was under restraint. The guidelines state: “If the deportee is under restraint, then the rules relating to prisoners apply, otherwise, in most other respects, deportees should be treated as normal passengers.”

If Mubenga was not under restraint when he was escorted on to the aircraft on Tuesday night then he could have been classified as a passenger. However, according to one eyewitness handcuffs were used by G4S security guards to restrain him while the aircraft was still on the ground. BA guidelines state: “Physical restraint of a passenger can be applied only on the express instructions of the captain and only whilst airborne. The captain has the duty and the legal authority to order physical restraint when, in his judgment, it is essential to preserve the safety of the aircraft, the crew or other passengers.”

The guidelines for prisoners, or for deportees who are under restraint as they board, state that the prisoner should not be served alcohol and must be seated “off the aisle, near a toilet and, if handcuffed, away from emergency exits.”

Dan Milmo
The Guardian, Friday 15 October 2010 20.08 BST

Find this story at 15 October 2010
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Government refuses G4S’s £24.1m for ‘wrong’ tagging bills

NAO report finds G4S and rival Serco continued to charge for tagging criminals many years after removing the electronic equipment from their homes
G4S is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, alongside Serco, over claims they overcharged the Ministry of Justice for tagging offenders Photo: Alamy

The Ministry of Justice has refused an offer from security firm G4S to hand back £24.1m that it has now admitted it “wrongly” billed for tagging criminals.

G4S made the offer on the eve of Wednesday’s appearance by new chief executive Ashley Almanza before MPs on the Public Accounts Committee – and just as a report from the National Audit Office provided fresh details of the tagging scandal.

The public spending watchdog found that G4S and rival Serco had continued to charge the taxpayer for tagging criminals many years after removing the electronic equipment from their homes.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Minister, launched an investigation in July after discovering evidence that the taxpayer had been overcharged, in some cases for tagging prisoners who were dead or back in prison.

The situation has since escalated into a criminal probe after the Serious Fraud Office said earlier this month that it was examining the contracts.
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As the scandal erupted, G4S hired law firm Linklaters to carry out an independent review. On Tuesday it admitted the law firm had found circumstances in which G4S “wrongly considered itself to be contractually entitled to bill for monitoring services when equipment had not been fitted or after it had been removed”.

G4S said it had “apologised” and “issued credit notes totalling £23.3m for amounts incorrectly billed between 2005 and May 2013” and a further £800,000 covering “June 2013 to date.” The company has also incurred £2m of professional fees. All sums were provided for at the half-year results.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman stressed, however, that it would not accept any sum until it had finished its own audit of the contracts. “The money has not been accepted and we are working with both companies to find exactly how much the taxpayer has been overcharged,” the spokesman said.

Mr Almanza said: “The way in which this contract was managed was not consistent with our values or our approach to dealing with customers. Simply put, it was unacceptable and we have apologised to the Ministry of Justice.”

G4S accepted that “the company’s assessment of these matters and the credit notes may not agree with the Ministry’s audit findings”.

The full scale of the scandal was made clear in the NAO report, which for the first time showed:

• G4S billed the taxpayer £4,700 for monitoring an offender even though the equipment had been removed 935 days earlier.

• Serco had been unable to install equipment at a criminal’s address but carried on charging for almost five years, at a cost of £15,500.

• A criminal was handed four separate court orders for four offences, leading Serco to bill the taxpayer four times “rather than one charge for the subject”.

• G4S charged for 612 days’ tagging – at a cost of £3,000 – even though it had been informed the offender had been sent to prison and the company had removed the monitoring equipment from his home.

G4S insisted that, having “conducted an extensive search and review of emails and numerous interviews with relevant employees”, Linklaters had “not identified any evidence of dishonesty or criminal conduct by any employee of G4S”.

Spending on electronic tagging has run to £722m since G4S and Serco were handed the contracts in 2005.

G4S stressed there had been a wholesale shake-up of senior management in recent months, including the arrival of a new chief executive, finance director and head of the UK business, adding pointedly that: “The executive previously responsible for the UK businesses is no longer working at G4S.”

Richard Morris, its former head of UK and Irish operations, departed last month. He has been replaced by Eddie Aston, who was recruited in July.

The Cabinet Office is reviewing all other G4S and Serco contracts with central Government, effectively barring them for bidding for such work until the review is complete.

Mr Almanza will be joined by Serco chairman Alastair Lyons at Wednesday’s PAC hearing.

G4S shares rose 3.5 to 260.3p, while Serco was 16.5 higher at 440.2p.

Kean Marden, an analyst at Jefferies, said: “G4S has issued an apology, stresses that senior management has been changed, and notes the newly-created position of group head of risk and programme assurance.

“This mirrors Serco’s statement on 25 October and, in our view, reads like a checklist of actions that the government wanted G4S/Serco to take before normalising relations. We continue to believe that this issue is reaching an endgame.”

By Alistair Osborne and David Barrett
5:16PM GMT 19 Nov 2013

Find this story at 19 November 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

G4S admits overcharging MoJ £24m on electronic tagging contract

Company has apologised to Ministry of Justice and issued credit notes for £23.3m incorrectly billed between 2005 and 2013

G4S said that an external review had confirmed it had been wrong to consider it was contractually entitled to bill for monitoring offenders when tags had not been fitted or after they had been removed. Photograph: Jeff Blackler/REX

Private security company G4S has admitted it has overcharged the Ministry of Justice more than £24m on its contract for the electronic monitoring of thousands of offenders in England in a practice that was going on for years.

The admission by one of the government’s largest suppliers comes just 24 hours before G4S and other outsourcing corporate giants, Serco, Atos and Capita are due to be grilled by the powerful Commons public accounts committee on Wednesday over their failings on public sector contracts.

G4S said an external review it had commissioned by the law firm Linklaters had confirmed it had been wrong to consider it was contractually entitled to bill for monitoring offenders when tags had not been fitted or after they had been removed.

G4S said it had apologised to the MoJ and issued credit notes for £23.3m that had been incorrectly billed between 2005 and May 2013.

A further credit note for £800,000 is to be issued to cover continued overcharging that has happened since June.

The security company said the Linklaters review had not identified “any evidence of dishonesty or criminal conduct by any employee of G4S in relation to the billing arrangements under the electronic monitoring contracts.”

The G4S statement added that it had “wrongly considered itself to be contractually entitled to bill for monitoring services when equipment had not been fitted or after it had been removed”.

The admission by the company comes after the Serious Fraud Office announced earlier this month that it was launching a criminal investigation into G4S and Serco for overcharging on criminal justice contracts.

The G4S statement was timed to coincide with the publication of a National Audit Office memorandum that shows that, in some instances, both contractors were charging the justice ministry for months or years after electronic monitoring activity had stopped. The charging continued even in cases where offenders had been sent back to prison or even died.

The NAO also says the firms charged the ministry over similar timescales when electronic monitoring was never undertaken and charged multiple times for the same individual if that person was subject to more than one electronic monitoring order at the same time.

Serco has also said it will refund any amount that it agrees represents overcharging.

The justice ministry has not yet agreed to any refund offers made by either firm.

In July, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, revealed that G4S and Serco had overcharged the government by “tens of millions of pounds” on the tagging contracts. This claim was disputed at the time by G4S. Grayling also announced that accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was carrying out a forensic audit into the contracts. A G4S whistleblower working in the call centre dealing with tagging was involved in raising initial concerns about billing practices.

The NAO gives examples of the disputed overcharging practices in its memorandum prepared for Wednesday’s showdown between MPs and the outsourced companies. They include:

• The justice ministry was charged £3,000 for 612 days monitoring of an offender who had been sent to prison for two years 20 months earlier. G4S removed the tagging equipment but kept on billing because the court had not provided the relevant paperwork.

• On 28 October 2010, G4S removed tagging equipment from the address of an offender where a number of breaches of curfew had been reported. The court failed to confirm the tag was no longer required even when chased in December 2012 so billing continued until 20 May 2013. The total bill was £4,700 for 935 days without a tag being in place.

• Serco billed £15,000 for almost five years’ monitoring in a case where it was unable to install tagging equipment in July 2008 at an address where the subject was due to be arrested. In October 2010, when Serco visited the property it was told nobody had been living there for 18 months.

Ashley Almanza, the G4S Group chief executive, said the company’s announcement was an important step in setting the matter straight and restoring trust.

“The way in which this contract was managed was not consistent with our values or our approach to dealing with customers. Simply put, it was unacceptable and we have apologised to the Ministry of Justice,” Almanza said.

“As part of a wider programme of corporate renewal, we have changed the leadership of our UK business and we are putting in place enhanced risk management and contract controls.

“We remain committed to working with the ministry and the UK government to resolve this matter and to provide enhanced oversight of service delivery and contract performance.”

The MoJ said it was not prepared to comment while a criminal investigation was under way.

The Cabinet Office is carrying out a government-wide review of G4S and Serco contracts but G4S said that no evidence had so far come to light that suggested that similar billing practices applied to other government contracts.

Both Serco and G4S withdrew from the tendering process for the next generation of electronic tagging. But both companies have been allowed to bid for £450m-worth of probation contracts but will not be awarded them unless they are given a clean bill of health over the tagging dispute.

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
theguardian.com, Tuesday 19 November 2013 11.58 GMT

Find this story at 19 November 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Security firm G4S ‘charged for tagging the dead’

Cost: Scandal-hit security firm G4S facing claims it charged the Government for tagged people who were either dead or back in prison

Security firms faced a criminal probe today over claims it charged the taxpayer to tag offenders who were dead or back in prison.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling called in the Serious Fraud Office to consider investigating G4S Care and Justice Services, part of the company disgraced last year for failing to supply enough Olympic security staff.

Another firm, Serco Monitoring, was also believed to have charged wrongly. Mr Grayling told MPs that the sums involved ran to “tens of millions” of pounds.

The bombshell allegations sent the two companies’ shares on the FTSE 100 falling sharply.

In a statement to the Commons, Mr Grayling said officials spotted “what appeared to be a significant anomaly in the billing practices” while preparing new contracts for electronic tagging.

“It appeared that we were being charged in ways not justified by the contracts and for people who were not in fact being monitored,” he said.

To the astonishment and fury of MPs, he added: “It included charges for people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place.

“There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died.

“In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.”

Mr Grayling added: “The House will share my astonishment that two of the Government’s biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way. The House will also be surprised and disappointed to learn that staff in the Ministry of Justice were aware of a potential problem and yet did not take adequate steps to address it.”

Serco had agreed to co-operate fully with a sweeping forensic audit, and said its senior managers were not aware. “They do not believe anything dishonest has taken place,” said Mr Grayling.

However, G4S had refused to take part in an additional forensic audit, leaving him no option but to call in the SFO.

“I should state that I have no information to confirm that dishonesty has taken place on the part of either supplier,” he added.

“But given the nature of the findings of the audit work that has taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received, I am today asking the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened in G4S.”

But G4S sources stressed no evidence of dishonesty had been discovered by either the MoJ review or its own inquiry carried out with the assistance of external experts.

They said the firm had co-operated fully with the MoJ and was given the choice of another audit by management consultants or a referral to the SFO.

G4S had preferred calling in the SFO, they added, to investigate any claims of dishonesty.

They insisted that they had found “absolutely no indication” that it had not complied with the terms of its contract.

But shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan was stunned by the allegations.

“To the public this appears a straightforward fraud – obtaining property by deception,” he said.

Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, added: “G4S should never have got another Government contract after the shambles of the Olympics.”

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced a government-wide review of contracts held by G4S and Serco.

Serco Group, which runs the Boris Bike scheme, said it would repay any amount agreed to be due and that given the investigation, it had decided to withdraw from the re-tendering process for the electronic monitoring service.

The company’s chief executive Christopher Hyman said: “We will not tolerate poor practice and behaviour and wherever it is found we will put it right.”

Joe Murphy, Political Editor
Nicholas Cecil
Published: 11 July 2013
Updated: 08:03, 12 July 2013

Find this story at 12 July 2013

© Evening Standard Limited

The ‘phantom’ electronic tags that cost us millions: Firms charged taxpayers for criminals who were dead or in jail

Taxpayers were charged tens of millions of pounds for ‘phantom’ electronic tags on criminals who were either dead, in jail or had left the country.

Two private firms, G4S and Serco, are accused of wrongly billing for tens of thousands of tags which had either been removed or simply never fitted.

Estimates suggest up to one in six of the 18,000 tags the Ministry of Justice was billed for every day were not real.

Taxpayers could have overpaid two private companies for their work tagging criminals

Last night ministers asked fraud investigators to look at G4S, after the company refused to allow forensic auditors access to its books and emails between senior executives.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling took the dramatic step after pledging to recover ‘every last penny’ owed to the public purse.

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He told MPs the scandal could date back as far as 1999, when tagging of criminals began in England and Wales. Since then the taxpayer has spent £1billion on tagging and monitoring offenders. The current contracts began in 2005.

Mr Grayling condemned the overcharging as ‘wholly indefensible and unacceptable’. In some cases, bills were paid for months or years after tags were taken off, he said.
G4S’S ROLL OF SHAME

OLYMPIC SECURITY

Just two weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games, G4S admitted it was unable to supply more than 10,000 security guards it had promised.
Army and police personnel were drafted in to fill the gap (pictured above), with the company eventually picking up the £88million bill.

PROSTHETIC TAG
In 2011, two G4S workers placed an electronic tag on an offender’s false leg, meaning he could simply take it off.
Christopher Lowcock wrapped his prosthetic limb in a bandage to fool staff who set up the device in his home.

PRISONER DIES
Angolan prisoner Jimmy Mubenga died in 2010 after being restrained by G4S guards on his deportation flight. Three G4S staff were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but charges were not brought because of a lack of evidence.

BIRMINGHAM KEYS
In 2011, a set of keys went missing at Birmingham Prison, a jail managed by G4S. Inmates were locked in their cells for an entire day, and new locks had to be fitted at a cost of £250,000.

He also launched a disciplinary investigation into former officials in the department after discovering contract managers were aware of billing issues in 2008, but ‘nothing substantive was done’.

Details of a ‘significant anomaly in billing practices’ within the deals emerged during a routine review as ministers prepared to negotiate contracts for satellite tags.

It found ‘charges for people who were back in prison and had their tags removed, people who had left the country and those who had never been tagged in the first place’, Mr Grayling said.

Charges were also made in a ‘small number of cases when the subject was known to have died’.

He added: ‘In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.’

The bill to taxpayers is put in the ‘low tens of millions’.

Tags are put on criminals after their early release from prison or as part of their community service.

Most involve a 12-hour curfew from 7pm to 7am, allowing the criminal, in theory, to work. A box in the offender’s home sounds an alert if the tag goes out of range or stops working.

Audits have also been launched into all other contracts between the Government and the two firms, both major suppliers to Whitehall. G4S received £1billion in revenue from UK Government contracts last year, while Serco made £2billion.

Serco has withdrawn its bid from the current tendering process for new satellite tags, while G4S is expected to be excluded after refusing to pull out.

Serco agreed to co-operate with a new audit but has said it does not believe ‘anything dishonest has taken place’.

G4S rejected the new audit and last night a spokesman insisted it has ‘always complied totally with the terms of the contract’.

The Serious Fraud Office will consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened at G4S, Mr Grayling said.

Indefensible: Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said G4S had rejected a demand for a new forensic audit

The firm’s reputation was shredded last year by its failure to fulfil the security contract for the Olympics. Thousands of armed forces and police personnel were called in to fill the gap and the company was forced to pick up the tab.

In May, G4S chief executive Nick Buckles quit with a £1.2million payoff. Several senior managers were sacked in the wake of the Olympic fiasco.

The price of shares in both firms plunged yesterday following the announcement, wiping £176.4million from G4S’s value and £269.6million from Serco.

G4S group chief executive Ashley Almanza said: ‘We place the highest premium on customer service and integrity and therefore take very seriously the concerns expressed by the Ministry of Justice.’

Serco group chief executive Christopher Hyman said: ‘Serco is a business led by our values and built on the strength of our reputation for integrity. We are deeply concerned if we fall short of the standards expected.’

By Jack Doyle and Peter Campbell
PUBLISHED: 11:52 GMT, 11 July 2013 | UPDATED: 08:19 GMT, 12 July 2013

Find this story at 11 July 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

G4S and Serco face £50 million fraud inquiry

Serious Fraud Office investigates G4S claim of over-charging for government contracts

Whitehall contracts running into billions of pounds are being urgently reviewed after the Government disclosed that two major firms had charged the taxpayer to monitor non-existent electronic tags, some of which had been assigned to dead offenders.

In an announcement that throws the Coalition’s privatisation drive into disarray, the Serious Fraud Office was called in to investigate G4S, the world’s largest security company, over contracts dating back over a decade.

Serco, one of Britain’s largest companies, also faces an inquiry by auditors over its charges for operating tagging schemes.

The firms supply an array of services to the public sector from running courts, prisons and immigration removal centres to managing welfare-to-work schemes and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Between them the two companies receive around £1.5bn a year from the taxpayer, but their contracts are worth billions of pounds because the vast majority run for several years.

They were also hoping to cash in on moves by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to hand them further large contracts to operate prisons and supervise offenders in the community.

The process of awarding all contracts was put on hold last night as the inquiries got underway.

The MoJ began investigating all its agreements with the two firms, including the running of major prisons, while the Cabinet Office started scrutinising all other Government contracts with G4S and Serco.

Shares in both companies fell sharply after the announcement by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary.

Shares in G4S – which suffered torrid publicity over its mishandling of the last year’s London Olympics security contract – finished the day 12.6p down at 213p. Serco tumbled by 54p to 626.5p.

Each of the companies relies heavily on Britain both for income and burnishing its international reputation. The move by the Government is unlikely to result in the wholesale loss of contracts, as the firms have few competitors of the same size but is a blow to their standing worldwide.

Mr Grayling’s announcement came after an audit discovered G4S and Serco had overcharged taxpayers by up to £50m, billing them for offenders who were dead, back in custody or had left the country. According to one MoJ source, the companies charged for 18,000 offenders when the actual number was around 15,000.

Mr Grayling said latest estimates suggested taxpayers had been overcharged by the companies to the tune of “low tens of millions” since the electronic monitoring contracts were signed in 2005. He also disclosed that ministry staff could have known about the practice for five years and face possible disciplinary action.

He said in a Commons statement: “The House will share my astonishment that two of the Government’s biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way.

”The House will also be surprised and disappointed to learn that staff in the Ministry of Justice were aware of the potential problem and yet did not take adequate steps to address it.“

Mr Grayling said he was asking the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the G4S contracts as the company had refused to co-operate with a further audit to rule out wrongdoing.

An investigation by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that overcharging could have dated back as far back as 1999 when earlier contracts were signed.

Serco has agreed to withdraw from the current tender process for an electronic monitoring contract worth up to £1m, while Mr Grayling plans moves to exclude G4S as it is still attempting to bid.

Serco had also been the leading bidder for prison contracts in Yorkshire, but Mr Grayling will delay their award until the fresh audit is complete.

An urgent review of contract management across the Ministry of Justice’s major contracts has also been launched and will report by autumn, he said.

G4S and Serco were also among companies preparing to bid for a range of payment-by-results contracts to supervise low to medium-level offenders across England and Wales.

Ian Lawrence, general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers union, said: ”We’ve long maintained that these companies are unfit for purpose when it comes to holding important public contracts. The outcome of the initial investigation into G4S and Serco suggests a good deal of malpractice has been discovered.“

Ashley Almanza, the G4S group chief executive, said: ”We place the highest premium on customer service and integrity and therefore take very seriously the concerns expressed by the Ministry of Justice. We are determined to deal with these issues in a prompt and appropriate manner.“

Serco Group’s chief executive, Christopher Hyman, said: ”Serco is a business led by our values and built on the strength of our reputation for integrity.

“These values lie at the heart of the many thousands of our people who are endeavouring to deliver the highest standard of service to our customers around the world. We are deeply concerned if we fall short of the standards expected of all of us.”

Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Given the scale of the allegations, the Government must immediately call in the police and the Serious Fraud Office to investigate both companies as fraud has potentially taken place.”

Security breach: Other G4S fiascos

* G4S faced fierce criticism last year following the botched handling of its Olympics security contract. It failed to deliver the numbers of security staff it had promised and the Government was forced to bring in additional armed forces personnel. The firm will take a £70m hit over the bungled contract with Games organisers, Locog.

* Earlier this week an inquest jury ruled an Angolan man who died after being restrained by three G4S guards as he was being deported from the UK was unlawfully killed. Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died on a plane bound for Angola in October 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service said it would reconsider its decision not to bring criminal charges in the wake of the verdict.

* In January, multimillion-pound plans by three police forces to outsource services to G4S collapsed. Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, said the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Alliance had discontinued negotiations with the firm.

However, last month it was revealed Lincolnshire’s police force now spends the lowest amount per head of population on policing in England and Wales after it handed over the bulk of its back-office functions to G4S.

Nigel Morris
Friday 12 July 2013

Find this story at 12 July 2013

© independent.co.uk

G4S faces fraud investigation over tagging contracts

Justice secretary tells MPs he has called in Serious Fraud Office to investigate private security firm for overcharging

The overcharging included billing for tracking the movements of people who had died. Photograph: David Davies/PA

The Serious Fraud Office has been called in by the justice secretary to investigate the private security company G4S for overcharging tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging contracts for offenders.

Chris Grayling told MPs the overcharging included billing for tracking the movements of people who had moved abroad, those who had returned to prison and had their tags removed, and even people who had died.

He said he had made the decision after G4S refused on Wednesday to co-operate with a voluntary forensic audit of its billing practices and to withdraw as a potential bidder for the next generation of tagging contracts worth up to £3bn.

“At this time I do not have evidence of dishonesty by G4S but I have invited the Serious Fraud Office to investigate that,” he said.

Whitehall sources say that a new forensic audit will look at a central allegation that the justice ministry was being billed for the tagging of 18,000 offenders a day when only 15,000 were actually being monitored – raising the prospect of being charged for 3,000 “phantom” offenders or one in six of all those on tags.

Grayling told MPs that G4S and a second major supplier, Serco, had been overcharging on the existing £700m contract, with the Ministry of Justice being billed for non-existent services that dated back to at least 2005 and possibly as long ago as 1999.

Grayling added that it included charging for monitoring people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place.

“There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died,” he told the Commons.

“In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring ceased. This is a wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs. The house will share my astonishment that two of the government’s biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way.”

Shares in Serco fell about 8% and for G4S almost 6% by the close on Thursday.

The decision to call in the SFO follows an audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by Grayling in May after billing discrepancies were discovered during a re-tendering process. Under the contracts the movements of more than 20,000 offenders are monitored using electronic ankle tags at any one time.

“The audit team is at present confirming its calculations but the current estimate is that the sums involved are significant, and run into the low tens of millions in total, for both companies, since the contracts commenced in 2005,” Grayling said.

Serco, which is one of the government’s biggest and most important suppliers, agreed on Wednesday to fully co-operate with a forensic audit to establish whether any dishonesty took place on its part. It has also agreed to withdraw from bidding for the £3bn next-generation tagging contract.

“They have said they take the issue extremely seriously and assure me that senior management were not aware of it. They do not believe anything dishonest has taken place, but we have agreed that if the audit does show dishonest action, we will jointly call in the authorities to address it,” Grayling said.

Serco was the leading bidder to take over the management of a prison in South Yorkshire. Grayling said that decision had now been delayed until the voluntary forensic audit was completed.

The Cabinet Office is to review all G4S and Serco contracts held across government as a result of the tagging scandal. The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, had already started preparations for a register of companies holding public sector contracts to detail their track record in the wake of G4S’s failure last year to fulfil its contract to provide security guards for the London Olympics.

Grayling, who had the attorney general, Dominic Grieve QC, next to him when he made his Commons statement, said he had taken the decision to call in the SFO “given the nature of the findings of the audit work that had taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received”.

He said the SFO was being asked to consider whether an investigation was appropriate, and to confirm “whether any of the actions of anyone in that company represent more than a contractual breach”.

The justice secretary has started a formal process to determine whether to exclude G4S from the next 10-year tagging contract which is due to start shortly. He has also taken action within the justice ministry after disclosing that his own officials became aware in a limited way of some of the problems in 2008 but failed to take adequate steps to address them.

He said an entirely new contract management team had been put in place. “The permanent secretary is also instituting disciplinary investigations to consider whether failings on the part of individual members of staff constitute misconduct”, he said.

The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, said the disclosures were “truly shocking” and the police should be called in immediately to investigate Serco as well as G4S. “There can be no cosy relationship with either company if we are to truly get to the bottom of these very serious allegations,” he said.

G4S said the justice ministry was an important customer and it was committed to resolving its concerns. It said it was conducting its own review and would reimburse any overbilling it identified. It said it was not aware of any indications of dishonesty or misconduct.

Ashley Almanza, the G4S chief executive, said: “We are committed to having close and open relationships with our customers and we strive to work in partnership for the mutual benefit of our organisations.

“We place the highest premium on customer service and integrity and therefore take very seriously the concerns expressed by the Ministry of Justice. We are determined to deal with these issues in a prompt and appropriate manner.”

Serco Group’s chief executive, Christopher Hyman, said: “Serco is a business led by our values and built on the strength of our reputation for integrity. These values lie at the heart of the many thousands of our people who are endeavouring to deliver the highest standard of service to our customers around the world. We are deeply concerned if we fall short of the standards expected of all of us.”

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
The Guardian, Friday 12 July 2013

Find this story at 12 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

G4S and Serco: Taxpayers overcharged by tens of millions over electronic tagging

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has asked the Serious Fraud Office to investigate security firm G4S after a review found the Government had been overcharged by tens of millions of pounds in its electronic tagging contract.

A review has found G4S and rival security company Serco both over-billed the taxpayer for running the tagging schemes, in what the minister said was a “wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs”.

It included charging the government for tagging offenders who had died, been returned to prison, left the country or who had never been put on the tagging scheme in the first place, Mr Grayling told the House of Commons.

Ministry of Justice sources said although they typically had 15,000 offenders on a tag at any one time G4S and Serco had been charging them for 18,000 – meaning one in six was spurious.

It also emerged civil servants first became aware of some of the problems in 2008 but failed to take appropriate action – and Mr Grayling said some may now face disciplinary action.

“I am angry at what has happened and am determined to put it right,” said Mr Grayling.
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“This has included instances where our suppliers were not in fact providing electronic monitoring.

“It included charges for people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place but who had instead been returned to court.

“There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died.

“In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.

“The House will share my view that this is a wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs.

Mr Grayling said he expected MPs would share his “astonishment” that two of the government’s two biggest contractors would behave in such a way.

He added: “The audit team is at present confirming its calculations but the current estimate is that the sums involved are significant, and run into the low tens of millions in total, for both companies, since the contracts commenced in 2005.

“It may date back as far as the previous contracts let in 1999.”

Serco has agreed with a Ministry of Justice proposal for a further investigation, and allow inspection of its internal emails.

But G4S, which was widely criticised for its failure to fulfil security requirements at last year’s Olympics, has rejected that proposal, said Mr Grayling.

“I should state that I have no information to confirm that dishonesty has taken place on the part of either supplier,” he told MPs.

“But given the nature of the findings of the audit work that has taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received, I am today asking the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened in G4S, and to confirm to me whether any of the actions of anyone in that company represent more than a contractual breach.”

Mr Grayling first launched an investigation into G4S and Serco in May after an internal audit uncovered a “significant anomaly” in the billing process.

The Ministry of Justice brought in external auditors to find out how much the two companies have incorrectly claimed from the taxpayer, which uncovered the remarkable details announced by Mr Grayling to the Commons.

He said: “I am making changes in my department because it is quite clear that the management of these contracts has been wholly inadequate.

“Enough knowledge came into the department to find out about these issues some years ago but it was not acted upon.

“Proceedings are likely to include, or may well include, disciplinary proceedings to establish precisely what did go wrong.”

Spending on electronic tagging has run to £700 million since G4S and Serco were handed the contracts.

Mr Grayling said no-one had been put in danger and the problem was purely to do with the billing arrangements. The contracts were awarded by the Labour government in 2004 and are ministers are currently going through a process to re-allocate the work.

Serco has pulled out of the bidding process but Mr Grayling said he was “disappointed that G4S still feel it appropriate to participate”.
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
12:40PM BST 11 Jul 2013

Find this story at 11 July 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

 

Olympic gaffe security company in bid to print money: G4S teams up with French firm for £1bn tender G4S has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals

The shambolic Olympic security firm G4S is bidding for the right to print Britain’s banknotes, it emerged last night.

The embattled group has teamed up with a French company to try to get its hands on the lucrative £1billion contract.

Currently the work is done by the British firm De La Rue, which was first commissioned to print UK banknotes at the outbreak of the First World War.

G4S, which has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals, wants to take over the contract

Now G4S, which has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals, wants to take over the contract.

It has joined forces with France’s Oberthur Technologies, which would take control of the printing process itself.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has called for the company to be blacklisted from future taxpayer contracts, demanded G4S pull out of the bidding.

He said: ‘G4s have failed the public on numerous occasions.

‘At a recent public meeting Jon Shaw, a G4S director, agreed with the Home Affairs Select Committee that companies that fail to deliver on public contracts should be on a high risk register.

The group faced public outrage last summer when it failed to provide enough guards for the Olympic venues. The army was drafted in to make up the shortfall

‘In light of this they should withdraw their application for this important contract until they have got their house in order.’

Before 2003 the Bank of England managed its own banknote printing.

In 2003 the Bank gave the work to De La Rue, which has held the contract for ten years.

Now it is has put the job out to tender.

The winning company will be responsible for printing notes from 2015 to 2025, with the possibility of extending the work even further to 2028.

But even if G4S and its Franco partner win, they will have to print the notes in the UK.

Any successful company can only print the notes using the Bank’s secure printing works in Debden in the Epping Forest.

From there the notes are taken securely to the Bank’s cash distribution centres around the country.

The Bank has issued paper banknotes ever since the central bank was created in 1694 as a way of raising money for King William III’s war against France.

But now it is planning to issue plastic notes, which can survive a spin in the washing machine.

Polymer banknotes, as well as being hard to fake, are durable and stay cleaner for longer because the material is more resistant to dirt and moisture.

Whichever firm wins the contract will have to be able to produce them as well as paper notes, the Bank has said.

Current provider De La Rue entered the plastic banknote market earlier this year with deals to supply Fiji and Mauritius.

G4S has been embroiled in a number of public blunders over the last 18 months.

The group faced public outrage last summer when it failed to provide enough guards for the Olympic venues.

The army was drafted in to make up the shortfall, and G4S was forced to pay compensation.

In July the company was accused of charging taxpayers for electronic tags on prisoners who were either dead, in jail or had left the country.

Ministers said they would review the company’s entire portfolio of government work – worth almost £1billion a year.

The blunders happened on the watch of flamboyant boss Nick Buckles, who was forced to resign earlier this year after a humiliating warning that the company’s profits would fall short of expectations.

G4S refused to comment last night. The Bank of England also refused to comment.

By Peter Campbell

PUBLISHED: 01:11 GMT, 27 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:31 GMT, 27 September 2013

Find this story at 27 September 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Warning of a ‘private army’ running Britain after government increases spending on security firm G4S by £65million

Controversial firm saw income from UK taxpayer rise by 20% last year
Company earned £394million in 2012-13, up from £328.5million
Labour MP Barry Sheerman warns of over-reliance on private contractors

Controversial security firm G4S has enjoyed a 20 per cent surge in government contracts despite a string of blunders, new figures show.

The company – which failed to recruit enough guards for the London Olympics – earned £394million from the taxpayer in 2012-13, up from £328.5million a year earlier.

The revelation sparked claims it was becoming the ‘private army’ of the state.

Security: The controversial firm G4S has seen a 20 per cent increase in its income from the UK government, raising fears of an over-reliance on a ‘private army’

With just weeks before the London Olympics opened in July last year, G4S admitted it would not be able to provide the thousands of guards it had promised.

Its reputation was severely damaged when 3,500 troops were called in to provide security at the biggest events.

In the wake of the debacle MPs called on the government to think again before awarding more lucrative contracts to the firm.

But it seems to have done little to dent its reputation in Whitehall, and next week it will provide security guarding the world’s most powerful men and women at the G8 summit at Lough Erne.

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Labour MP Barry Sheerman, who obtained the figures on government spending with G4S, said he was worried about an increasing over-reliance on a small number of companies.

He warned: ‘The trouble is a lot of contractors are in a monopoly. They do seem to be swelling up and getting bigger and bigger and we are getting to the stage where the over-reliance on one company troubles you.

‘I am becoming increasingly worried about the monopoly position that G4S have in security services.

‘They are becoming the private army of Her Majesty’s Government. There is something going on that I think we need to shine a spotlight on.’

Blunder: The army had to be called in for the London Olympics after G4S failed to recruit enough guards last summer

Nick Buckles, who last month quit as G4S chief executive, admitted the Olympic security contract had been a ‘humiliating shambles’ for the company but Labour MP Barry Sheerman (right), who obtained the figures, warned of a few firms having a monopoly on state contracts

Most of the hike in Government spending on G4S contracts was down to an extra £51 million spent by the Ministry of Justice on contracts with the company.

A spokesman for the department said the increase was down to G4S being given contracts to run prisons at Birmingham and Oakwood, as well as managing the facilities of a large part of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.

The Department for Work and Pensions more than doubled its spend on G4S contracts – up from nearly £13.8 million to more than £32.1 million.
G4S: A HISTORY OF BLUNDERS

The UK-based security firm traces its roots back to a guarding company founded in Denmark in 1901.

G4S was formed when Group 4 merged with Securicor in 2004. The company has a long record of blunders including:

In 1993 Group 4 became the first private company to run prisoner escort services,m and lost seven inmates in three weeks

A year later a hunger striker escaped from Campsfield House detention centre, guarded by Group 4

In 1997 it emerged the firm had transferred a prisoner between two vans on a petrol station forecourt

Three prisoners escaped from Peterborough Crown Court in 2001

In 2011, G4S staff lost a set of cell keys just days after taking over Birmingham Prison Workers put an electronic tag on criminal Christopher Lowcock’s artificial limb

In 2012 the firm failed to train enough guards for the London Games which meant 3,500 soldiers had to be recalled from leave

In March this year a G4S guard at Heathrow ordered Royal Navy engineer Nicky Howse to change out of her uniform before flying to the US because it was ‘offensive’

A contract awarded to G4S for the Government’s Work Programme accounted for the increase, Employment Minister Mark Hoban said in his answer to Mr Sheerman’s question.

The figures do not include spending by the Department for Communities and Local Government which has not yet answered the MP’s question.

Mr Sheerman said it was ‘amazing’ that so much was being spent on G4S when it was failing to pay Olympic subcontractors that were ‘not complicit in the debacle’ of the company’s handling of security at London 2012.

‘I thought it was amazing that such an amount is being spent on one major contractor, also at a time when we still know that G4S have failed to pay subcontractors who have worked for them on the Olympic site,’ Mr Sheerman said.

He said some small and medium-sized businesses who worked on the Olympic site were made to subcontract to G4S by Locog, but now have not been paid.

‘I don’t know why they haven’t paid them, it is just bad principles,’ he said.

‘They were told at one stage in the development they were running the logistics and security of the athlete’s village.

‘Once that was finished they became subcontractors and told to be subcontractors to G4S.

‘One would have thought Locog would have leaned on G4S to do the honourable thing to the subcontractors.

‘They were not complicit in the debacle that occurred when the army came in.’

Kim Challis, G4S CEO of government and outsourcing solutions, said: ‘We have been working with the UK government for more than two decades, delivering the highest levels of service and under a high degree of monitoring and oversight.

‘We have won every contract we have been awarded by bidding in a highly competitive environment, based on delivering an effective service for the best deal for the taxpayer, with a number of providers challenging for the work.

‘We have a strong track record of delivering for our UK Government customers and are proud of the service our 11,000 employees provide to them, and the general public, every single day.’

Former G4S company boss Nick Buckles, who admitted the London 2012 contract had been a ‘humiliating shambles, last month quit his £1.2million-a-year role as chief executive.

He clung on to his job in the immediate aftermath of the Olympics debacle but the firm’s reputation suffered badly and in recent weeks poor trading caused shares to slump by more than 13 per cent in one day.

This month, G4S’s AGM was interrupted by protesters making reference to Jimmy Mubenga – an Angolan man who died while being deported from the UK by G4S guards.

In July last year, prosecutors said they would be taking no action against the three G4S staff over the death.

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

PUBLISHED: 12:36 GMT, 12 June 2013 | UPDATED: 08:42 GMT, 13 June 2013

Find this story at 13 June 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Microsoft founder Bill Gates buys into G4S

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has given a vote of confidence to embattled British security firm G4S, despite a recent profit warning and ongoing controversy over the company’s Israeli prison contracts and the death of an Angolan man.

The US tech titan’s private investment vehicle, Cascade Investment, and his high-profile charitable fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, poured an extra £16m into G4S stock on Thursday, to increase their joint stake in the security giant to 3.2pc. The total holding is now worth around £110m.

Mr Gates’ endorsement will come as welcome relief following a year blighted by the company’s failure to supply enough security staff for the London Olympics. The fiasco eventually claimed the scalp of chief executive Nick Buckles, but only after a difficult first quarter in Europe prompted the company to issue a profits warning in May.

Last week, board members endured a stormy annual meeting, at which they faced repeated questions over three Israeli prison contracts in occupied Palestine and the death of Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga in 2010. Despite protests, G4S’ new chief executive Mr Almanza insisted at the fraught meeting that an independent study concluded that the company had not breached any aspect of “international humanitarian law”.

But this would not be the first time the $36.4bn Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest of its kind, has invested in a company that has faced fierce public criticism. The charitable trust holds stakes in BP and Exxon Mobil, which have both come under fire over catastrophic oil spills.

Mr Gates also has a history of investing in British companies, including Carpetright, Diageo and JJB Sports.

“The best guess would be that given the changes that have taken place at G4S over the past year, it’s probably an opportunity for G4S to set out a clear path,” said Steve Woolf, support services analyst at Numis.

“The underlying business is still very good. The share price has been quite beleaguered over the past 12 months. Now there is a chance to begin again and reinforce the core strategy.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was established by Mr Gates and his wife in 2000 with the goal of eradicating poverty and combating the world’s deadliest diseases.

By Denise Roland
4:29PM BST 10 Jun 2013

Find this story at 10 June 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

Secret mission? UK “homeland security” firms were in India three weeks before David Cameron’s February trade mission

In late January, Conservative MP and Minister for Security James Brokenshire led a delegation of nearly 25 “homeland security” firms to India on a trip which, in sharp contrast to the trade mission to India undertaken by David Cameron in February, received no coverage in the press whatsoever.

From 20 to 25 January multinational giants such as Agusta Westland, BAE Systems, G4S and Thales were taken to a number of Indian cities: Delhi, “for the government perspective”; Hyderabad, “the centre of the vast Naxal terrorism-troubled region and the home of a growing high tech industry base” where there was a “round table discussion with local security forces”; and Mumbai, “the focus of safer cities and coastal security initiatives” where attendees were treated to “a conference and round table discussion with local government security agencies and business.” [1]

A number of lesser-known firms were present alongside the major corporations. Evidence Talks attended, which was founded in 1993 and describes itself as “one of the most highly regarded digital forensic consultancies in the UK.” The company supplies tools for the extraction and analysis of data from digital devices and boasts that its SPEKTOR tool is “used worldwide by police, military, government and commercial customers…[and] enables users with minimal skills to safely, quickly and forensicly [sic] review the contents of computers, removable media and even cell phones.” [2]

Cunning Running also went on UKTI’s trip, and claims to provide “threat visualisation for the real world.” The firm say that they “develop high quality software solutions for the defence and homeland security markets,” supplying “direct to governments, law enforcement agencies, and militaries in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia.” [3]

“The security sector in India is vast and desperate to modernise,” said UKTI’s flyer for the mission. “India has approximately 1.2 million police and 1.3 million paramilitary forces personnel. With this, the Central Reserve Police Force, at 350,000, is the largest paramilitary force in the world” – a vast number of personnel who could be equipped with the latest “homeland security” gadgets and expertise.

The flyer for the mission seems to highlight the fact that backing the security industry as it moves into developing economies is seen as a national endeavour. “The [Indian] market is the subject of stiff competition from international competitors such as the US, Israel and France,” UKTI said, “but is simply too big to ignore.”

UKTI highlighted that “the on-the-ground costs of this mission (receptions, ground transport, conference facilities, promotional literature) are being wholly subsidised on behalf of UK companies by UKTI and its partners/sponsors” (emphasis in original). Those partners and sponsors included the Indian Home Ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industries.

Furthermore, companies were “able to avail a government-negotiated rate at the hotels being used throughout the programme.”

The “only charge to companies” was for the UKTI Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) – a “flexible business tool, letting you use the services of our trade teams, located in our embassies, high commissions and consulates across the world, to benefit your business.” [4]

The government has recently made additional funding available in order to encourage wider use of OMIS by UK firms, with a 50% discount (up to a maximum of £750) available to “all eligible companies commissioning an order linked to a UKTI, Scottish Development International (SDI), Welsh Government (WG) or Invest Northern Ireland (INI) supported outward mission or Market Visit Support (MVS).” [5]

While UKTI has clawed back some money from the firms who went on the trade mission to India, the department – described by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) as “a taxpayer-funded arms sales unit” [6] – initially spent over £35,000 subsidising companies. In its response to a freedom of information (FOI) request from Statewatch, UKTI said that “we have also generated income of £13,485 with another £1,170 expected. Therefore the net cost minus the expenses still to come is £20,997.98.”

This amount pales in comparison to the total amount of subsidies it is estimated are awarded to defence and security firms by the UK government every year, but it also highlights the breadth of support given to a highly controversial industry.

Research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that, between 2007 and 2010, total government subsidies for UK arms exports (including both defence and security firms) totalled at its highest £751.2 million, and at its lowest £668.3 million. [7]

A spokesperson for CAAT criticised the mission to India, saying that: “Unfortunately the UK government continues to prioritise promoting corporate interests over promoting human rights and real security – and expects the UK public to subsidise this.”

David Cameron’s February trade mission to India received heavy press coverage and saw the Prime Minister accompanied by a number of CEOs from defence and security firms, including Dick Oliver, the chairman of BAE Systems; Robin Southwell, the CEO of EADS UK; Steve Wadley, the UK managing director of the missile firm MBDA; and Victor Chavez, the chief executive of Thales UK. [8]

Sources
[1] UKTI DSO, UKTI homeland security trade mission to India
[2] Evidence Talks, Company Profile
[3] Cunning Running website
[4] UKTI, OMIS – Overseas Market Introduction Service, 25 January 2012
[5] UKTI, Response to FOI request, 22 March 2013
[6] Campaign Against Arms Trade, UKTI: Armed & Dangerous, 8 July 2011
[7] Susan T. Jackson, SIPRI assessment of UK arms export subsidies, 25 May 2011
[8] Kaye Stearman, Cameron’s Indian odyssey – brickbats and cricket bats, fighter jets and on-message execs, CAATblog, 22 February 2013
[9] Global Day of Action on Military Spending

15.4.2013

Find this story at 15 April 2013

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G4S boss who oversaw botched Olympics contract lands bigger pay packet for 2012 despite firm’s £88m loss on London games

G4S chief executive Nick Buckles paid £1.19m, up £170,000 on last year
Company lost £88m in Olympics fiasco when they failed to provide security

The chief executive of the company behind the security-scandal at the London Olympics last summer received a record pay packet in 2012, following million pound losses during the Games.

G4S boss Nick Buckles was paid a total £1.19million in 2012, up £170,000 on his 2011 paycheck, despite the company nursing an £88million loss on the London 2012 contract.

The security giant failed to provide the 10,400 guards needed during this summer’s main event and the military was forced to step in.

Big Bucks: Nick Buckles, pictured defending his company in the Commons after G4S’s Olympics blunder, was paid an extra £170,000 in 2012 compared to the previous year

As well as an £830,000 salary, Mr Buckles’ 2012 pay packet included £23,500 in benefits and £332,000 in payments in lieu of pension. Mr Buckles 2012 pay packet was boosted by bigger pension payments.

However, neither he nor other executive directors earned a performance-related bonus.

G4S said in its annual report Mr Buckles’ and other executives’ salaries were frozen in 2012 and will not increase this year – the fourth time in five years their salaries have been frozen.

But it revealed plans to increase potential long-term share bonuses this year to ‘ensure that the directors continue to be incentivised and motivated’.

Mr Buckles’ maximum shares bonus could rise to 2.5 times his salary from a maximum of two times in 2012 – meaning a potential £2.1 million in shares if he hits targets.

Loss: G4S lost £88m in the London Olympics Games contract after they failed to provide all the security guards needed for the Games

Performance-related bonuses will also now depend on factors including organic growth, cash generation, strategic execution and organisation, instead of being tied purely to profits.

G4S’s Olympics failure saw Mr Buckles hauled before MPs, during which he admitted it was a ‘humiliating shambles for the company’. Extra military personnel had to be called in to fill the gap left by G4S’s failure to supply enough staff for the £284 million contract.

Mr Buckles said in the annual report it marked ‘one of the toughest periods in the group’s history’.

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 18:12 GMT, 15 April 2013 | UPDATED: 06:42 GMT, 16 April 2013

Find this story at 15 April 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Amputee dies in G4S ambulance due to ‘insufficient’ staff training

Inquest told the victim’s wheelchair was not secured and he died when it tipped over

A double amputee died when his unsecured wheelchair tipped over backwards as he was being transported to hospital in an ambulance operated by under-fire outsourcing firm G4S.

An inquest jury found that the driver and staff of the security firm had not received sufficient training to move patients safely between their homes, hospitals and clinics.

Retired newsagent Palaniappan Thevarayan, 47, suffered fatal head injuries when his wheelchair came loose from the floor clamps in the back of the vehicle taking him to St Helier Hospital, in Sutton, Surrey, from a dialysis centre in Epsom hospital in May 2011.

The jury at Westminster Magistrates Court this week heard that driver John Garner, who had worked for the company since 2005, and fellow G4S staff had not had their manual handling training updated since 2009. G4S, which was heavily criticised for its failure to recruit enough security guards for last year’s Olympic Games, operates public sector contracts in border control, security, prisoner and patient transport worth £350million a year. The global security company continues to work with St Helier along with four other NHS Trusts in the London area carrying out 400,000 patient journeys a year.

Westminster Coroners Court heard that Mr Thevarayan’s wheelchair tipped backwards resulting in a serious head injury. It emerged that the chair had not been attached to the ambulance floor by the necessary ratchet clamps and was not securely restrained. He was being taken to hospital after developing problems with a blocked catheter.

Delivering a narrative verdict, the jury said: “Patient transport service staff were not sufficiently trained in the safe transportation of patients by ambulance.”

Mr Thevarayan, who was originally from India, had previously had both legs amputated after suffering complications with his diabetes. He was undergoing dialysis three times a week for kidney failure and was nearing the top of the transplant list.

The inquest heard that he had to wait for more than six hours for emergency surgery after being transferred to St George’s Hospital, Tooting, following the incident. His wife and full time carer Nirmala said he had been given only a 50:50 chance of survival if operated on immediately.

She told the inquest she wanted answers about his treatment by G4S and wanted to know why it had taken so long for him to receive surgery. ‘I want to know why they didn’t look after him properly’, she said. “And in hospital, why did they take so long to treat him?” she added.

Assistant deputy coroner Kevin McLoughlin said to Mrs Thevarayan and her son and daughter who sat through the four-day inquest: “I pay tribute to the calm dignity which you and your family have conducted yourself through what must have been heart-breaking evidence.”

In a statement G4S said: “We can confirm that the member of staff involved in this tragic incident had received all the mandatory training required at the time.

“Following this incident we immediately installed an additional team of professionals to review our procedures and ensure that training fully covers all points pertinent to this incident. Improvements have been made to our systems for recording training, and the content of our staff training has been reviewed and enhanced to address lessons learned from this incident.”

JONATHAN BROWN

Friday 08 March 2013

Find this story at 8 March 2013

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