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  • Another G4S nightmare: 82-year-old nun beats guards to break into nuclear facility

    Anti-nuclear protesters’ successful incursion expose security failings at uranium plant

    All operations remained suspended yesterday at the sole facility in the US for storing enriched uranium after the area was breached by three anti-nucl ear protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, exposing gaps in security provided by G4S, the same private company accused of bungling security arrangements for the Olympics.

    After cutting through three fences around Y-12, a Second World War-era nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the three activists, identified as Megan Rice, 82, Michael Wallis, 63 and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, got as far as the outer wall of the uranium building and allegedly daubed it with slogans and splashed it with human blood.

    A spokeswoman for WSI Oak Ridge, which is contracted by the Energy Department to keep intruders out of the highly sensitive complex, declined to respond to questions yesterday. The company is a subsidiary of the international security firm G4S which acknowledged shortly before the London Games that it had been unable to assemble sufficient numbers of staff to keep them safe, forcing the Government to deploy Army troops.

    While the incursion has served once again to embarrass G4S, a spokesman for the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance said that was not the original purpose of the successful protest. “It wasn’t so they could show how easy it was to bust into this bomb plant, it was because the production of nuclear weapons violates everything that is moral and good,” Ralph Hutchinson told Reuters. “It is a war crime.”

    The three perpetrators, who seemingly wandered within the perimeter fences of Y-12 for two hours before reaching the key storage building, have been charged with “vandalism and criminal trespass”. They were due to appear before a judge in Tennessee later last night for a bail hearing. They are expected to face trial in early October.

    All questions to WSI were being referred to Steve Wyatt, spokesman of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is part of the Energy Department. “We’re taking this very, very seriously,” he said, confirming that the trio had cut through two chain link fences on the edge of Y-12 and a third fence closer to the structure where they left the slogans known as the “Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility”.

    Find this story at 4 August 2012

    David Usborne

    © independent.co.uk

    G4S: Greater privatisation of police should be a major cause for concern

    Recently, the head of the UK branch of G4S, the largest private security firm in the world, predicted that within the next few years an increasing amount police work will be allocated and outsourced to private security companies – like G4S.

    The comments were made by the director of the UK led private security firm, off the back of G4S having secured lucrative contracts to carry out policing duties on behalf of West Midlands and Surrey police – and ultimately the taxpayer.

    One of the immediate criticisms raised at this prospect was of the need for all individuals contracted to carry out police duties to be held equally accountable to the IPCC (Independent police complaints commission) – at present this will not the case.

    G4S are also set to have a massive presence at this year’s Olympic Games, with around 13,000 staff allocated for the games which are set to begin in a couple of weeks time. Mainstream news reports have described the makeup of east London as looking increasingly more like an occupied military zone rather than the sight for one of the greatest spectacles on Earth. Coincidentally, we are talking about the same G4S that carries out duties for the Israeli government and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

    Despite concerns raised over the last couple of days regarding the ability of G4S to deliver, the Home Secretary Theresa May today maintained that the Olympic games were safe to go ahead and that london is prepared.

    Indeed, the security giant looks likely to secure lucrative contracts to undergo outsourced work on behalf of the NHS, and the police, and post Olympics, and does not look likely to be struggling for work, to put it politely.

    Police forces across the country, as well as suffering from acute levels of public skepticism, and diminishing resources, will be headed by a company, driven by profit margins at the behest of our government.

    Although according to government this is of course done in the name of efficiency and cost effectiveness, one might say that there is a direct conflict of interest. If we were to make any predictions as to how this were to translate into reality, looking at how the police, immigration officials, and prisons which have been privatised are operating in the US, and the resulting criticisms that have been leveled at them, we ought to surely be concerned.

    Incidentally, here in the UK, we have already emulated the private prison system, with several currently outsourced to private companies.

    In addition to the news that the police along with our other institutions, will now be further privatised and sold off, we have also had to digest the added revelation that we are likely to see an even greater drop in police numbers in the years leading up to 2015.

    If alarm bells were not already ringing as a result of the fragility of the relationship between the police and the public, then they should be now.

    There is no reason to believe that this will have a beneficial effect on the level of service provided. Or put another way, there is no evidence to suggest that in the long run this will benefit society. On the contrary many are voicing concerns saying the opposite; A climate under which it becomes more profitable to imprison people than to educate them, is not something we want. We only have to look across the pond to realise that.

    Equally, the likes of G4S, securing the Olympics and carrying out increasingly more and more police duties holds just as many legitimate concerns.

    As was revealed in a recent report, the extent to which some of the private companies awarded contracts to kickstart the coalition governments ‘work programme’ sought to actually cut the number of claimants claiming benefits- including G4S – was shockingly high. Many are concerned that they are more focused on cutting the number of benefit claimants, rather than actually getting people back to work.

    Many groups and activists concerned about G4S have been trying to raise awareness and scrutinize G4S for many years, but in recent months and especially in the aftermath of the death of Jimmy Mubenga, which for many after a long list of incidents which brought into sharp focus the prospect of criminal charges being sought for possible criminal behaviour by G4S, that scrutiny has increased – and with good reason. Whether the staff that held Mubenga in their custody will now face criminal charges remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether the company itself will face criminal charges of manslaughter.

    Just like the last New Labour government, which designated the contract for our census data to be gathered to Lockheed Martin, the arms manufacturer, with many other impressive titles to its name to boot, this coalition hasn’t flinched from its predictable ideological course, in shipping the important work of our already stretched institutions, over to private companies, and the reality is that we are poised to see more of the same. The fact that one of the big beneficiaries of this, has massive question marks hanging over it says much about our government’s willingness to ship out anything to the highest bidder, irrespective of the spin, which justifies such decision making in the name of cost effectiveness and efficiency. The question really, is what’s coming next.

    Meanwhile the Olympics are awaited with bated breath from many and for many reasons. For sports lovers it’s the chance to enjoy the games the chance to inspire young people. For many police officers, the circumstances surrounding the Olympics, are just inviting the kind of scenes and trouble that we saw last year, possibly further rioting. Private companies, just like the big multinationals that go in to rebuild a destroyed infrastructure after a war, are poised to get rich either way.

    Find this story at 13 July 2012

    By Richard Sudan
    Notebook – A selection of Independent views -, Opinion
    Friday, 13 July 2012 at 12:00 am

    £284m debacle over security: As troops fill the Olympics gap, how did G4 get it all so wrong?


    Army called upon to fill Games security shortfall
    Fears G4S may even fail to meet reduced target
    MP accuses firm – who were paid £284m – of letting the country down

    The security firm G4S was reportedly paid a staggering £284million to provide up to 17,500 personnel for the 2012 Games.

    But yesterday, in a major humiliation for company bosses and Olympic organisers, it admitted it would fall well short of the target, forcing ministers to pull in thousands of military personnel.

    The company was contracted to provide a minimum of 15,400 security staff, with a target of 17,500.

    Yesterday, as the Government confirmed the call-up of 3,500 extra troops, G4S claimed it would be able to bring in 13,800.

    However, with 14 days to go to the Games, question marks remained whether it would meet even that target, as just a small fraction of that total is available for deployment. Only 4,000 are ‘boots on the ground’, working as ticket checkers and bag searchers at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

    Another 9,000 are still in the training and vetting process – raising fears even the more reduced target might not be achievable.

    The Armed Forces now make up the overwhelming majority of the security staff likely to be deployed during the Games.

    The original plan for 7,500 military is bolstered by a special contingent of 5,000, plus the 3,500 announced on Tuesday, making a total of 16,000. In addition, there will be 3,000 unpaid volunteers.

    The number of staff needed to guard the Olympic venues more than doubled last December after the organising committee Locog wildly underestimated the total required. Originally Locog contracted G4S to provide 2,000 security guards, but in December the firm agreed to increase that number massively.

    Yesterday Downing Street insisted there would be financial penalties for the firm for failing to meet the contract. But Locog refused to comment on the nature of any fines, claiming it would breach commercial confidentiality. That is despite taxpayers coughing up at least £9billion for the cost of the Games.

    Insiders said the company had repeatedly claimed until last week that it would meet its obligations.

    A Whitehall source accused the firm of ‘abysmal’ failure and said it had delayed completing training and vetting processes to save money by not having too many staff on the books before the start of the Games.

    The source said: ‘Until yesterday officials from G4S were turning up and assuring us that the figures were getting better and going to be OK.

    ‘Then we learn there’s not as many as we need. They didn’t want to be throwing money at the problem six months ago because their staff would be sitting around doing nothing.’

    Home Secretary Theresa May was hauled to the House of Commons to try to explain the shortfall.

    She insisted: ‘There is no question of Olympic security being compromised.’

    But Labour MP Keith Vaz, who called for the emergency statement, said: ‘G4S has let the country down and we have literally had to send in the troops.’

    Mr Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has written to Nick Buckles, chief executive of G4S, demanding he give evidence before MPs next week.

    The debacle is the latest blow to the reputation of G4S which, while relatively unknown to the public, is one of the world’s biggest security companies.

    In recent years its tentacles have extended into swathes of British life which used to be the preserve of the public sector, including running prisons and police custody suites.

    From headquarters in Crawley, Sussex, company bosses run a sprawling multinational company with interests in more than 125 countries.

    They provide security at Heathrow and other major airports, and for vans transporting cash on behalf of banks and other financial institutions.

    Under its previous name Group4Security it had a contract for transporting prisoners, but in 2004 the company ‘lost’ two prisoners, sparking a major investigation.

    It runs six jails in the UK including Birmingham, where an inspection report in October 2011 said drugs were regularly being thrown over the prison walls.

    Three G4S guards are on police bail over the death in October 2010 of Angolan national Jimmy Mubenga, who was restrained while being deported from the country.

    Find this story at 13 July 2012

    By Jack Doyle

    PUBLISHED: 22:39 GMT, 12 July 2012 | UPDATED: 10:30 GMT, 13 July 2012

    Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
    © Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Olympic security chaos: depth of G4S security crisis revealed

    The depth of the crisis over G4S’s Olympic security preparations became increasingly clear on Thursday as recruits revealed details of a “totally chaotic” selection process and police joined the military in bracing themselves to fill the void left by the private security contractor.

    Guards told how, with 14 days to go until the Olympics opening ceremony, they had received no schedules, uniforms or training on x-ray machines. Others said they had been allocated to venues hundreds of miles from where they lived, been sent rotas intended for other employees, and offered shifts after they had failed G4S’s own vetting.

    The West Midlands Police Federation reported that its officers were being prepared to guard the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, which will host the football tournament, amid concerns G4S would not be able to cover the security requirements.

    “We have to find officers until the army arrives and we don’t know where we are going to find them from,” said Chris Jones, secretary of the federation.

    G4S has got a £284m contract to provide 13,700 guards, but only has 4,000 in place. It says a further 9,000 are in the pipeline.

    G4S sent an urgent request on Thursday to retired police asking them to help. A memo to the National Association of Retired Police Officers said: “G4S Policing Solutions are currently and urgently recruiting for extra support for the Olympics. These are immediate starts with this Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday available. We require ex-police officers ideally with some level of security clearance and with a Security Industry Association [accreditation], however neither is compulsory.”

    Robert Brown, a former police sergeant, told the Guardian that he pulled out of the recruitment process for the Games after seeing it close at hand.

    He said: “They were trying to process hundreds of people and we had to fill out endless forms. It was totally chaotic and it was obvious to me that this was being done too quickly and too late.”

    Another G4S trainee, an ex-policeman, described the process as “an utter farce”.

    He added: “There were people who couldn’t spell their own name. The staff were having to help them. Most people hadn’t filled in their application forms correctly. Some didn’t know what references were and others said they didn’t have anyone who could act as a referee. The G4S people were having to prompt them, saying things like “what about your uncle?”

    Tim Steward, a former prison officer, said he was recruited by G4S in March as a team leader but said he would not be working at the Games because of a series of blunders.

    Steward said he provided documentation for vetting but G4S had said it did not have the information on record and so closed his file. The security firm then offered him a training session at short notice, which he could not attend, but it did not offer an alternative.

    A recruit who was interviewed in March and completed training last month, said: “There are people like me that are vetted and trained in security and would be happy to work, but can’t. Some of the classes were of around 200 in size with only two trainers accommodating the training for a class of this size.

    “I am yet to hear from G4S regarding my screening, accreditation, uniform or even a rough start date. I know many people also who will be commencing work on 27 July who have had absolutely no scheduled on-site training. They are simply being chucked into their role on x-ray machines, public screening areas and even athlete screening areas.”

    Another guard who has been trained as an x-ray operator, complained that he was unable to get through to G4S to find out when and where he was meant to be working, and was once left on hold on the phone for 38 minutes.

    One student applicant said he had already spent £650 on travel and hotel bills to attend training and was now worried that, because he had not received any accreditation or rota from G4S, he might not be given the shifts that would enable him to cover those costs. He said he had expected to earn about £2,000 over the period of the Games.

    G4S’s own Facebook page for new recruits is littered with similar complaints.

    “They’ve placed me in Manchester and I want to work in London,” wrote Glenn Roseman. “Some idiot has changed my location, I’m never going to get any work now.”

    Christian Smith complained: “I did the training course, passed, and got my own security industry association licence, only to fail G4S vetting. Two days after I got their letter, they rang me, and asked me what days I could work.”


    Find this story at 13 July 2012 


    Recruits tell of chaos over schedules, uniforms and training while ex-police officers asked to help out
    Robert Booth and Nick Hopkins
    The Guardian, Friday 13 July 2012

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    G4S chief predicts mass police privatisation

    Private companies will be running large parts of the police service within five years, according to security firm head

    David Taylor-Smith, the head of G4S for the UK and Africa, said he expected most UK police forces to sign up to privatisation deals. Photograph: Guardian

    Private companies will be running large parts of the UK’s police service within five years, according to the world’s biggest security firm.

    David Taylor-Smith, the head of G4S for the UK and Africa, said he expected police forces across the country to sign up to similar deals to those on the table in the West Midlands and Surrey, which could result in private companies taking responsibility for duties ranging from investigating crimes to transporting suspects and managing intelligence.

    The prediction comes as it emerged that 10 more police forces were considering outsourcing deals that would see services, such as running police cells and operating IT, run by private firms.

    Taylor-Smith, whose company is in the running for the £1.5bn contract with West Midlands and Surrey police, said he expected forces across the country to have taken similar steps within five years . “For most members of the public what they will see is the same or better policing and they really don’t care who is running the fleet, the payroll or the firearms licensing – they don’t really care,” he said.

    G4S, which is providing security for the Olympics, has 657,000 staff operating in more than 125 countries and is one of the world’s biggest private employers. It already runs six prisons in the UK and in April started work on a £200m police contract in Lincolnshire, where it will design, build and run a police station. Under the terms of the deal, 575 public sector police staff transferred to the company.

    Taylor-Smith said core policing would remain a public-sector preserve but added: “We have been long-term optimistic about the police and short-to-medium-term pessimistic about the police for many years. Our view was, look, we would never try to take away core policing functions from the police but for a number of years it has been absolutely clear as day to us – and to others – that the configuration of the police in the UK is just simply not as effective and as efficient as it could be.”

    Concern has grown about the involvement of private firms in policing. In May more than 20,000 officers took to the streets to outline their fears about pay, conditions and police privatisation. The Police Federation has warned that the service is being undermined by creeping privatisation.

    Unite, the union that represents many police staff, said the potential scale of private-sector involvement in policing was “a frightening prospect”. Peter Allenson, national officer, said: “This is not the back office – we are talking about the privatisation of core parts of the police service right across the country, including crime investigation, forensics, 999 call-handling, custody and detention and a wide range of police services.”

    Taylor-Smith said “budgetary pressure and political will” were driving the private-sector involvement in policing but insisted that the “public sector ethos” had not been lost.

    “I have always found it somewhere between patronising and insulting the notion that the public sector has an exclusive franchise on some ethos, spirit, morality – it is just nonsense,” he said. “The thought that everyone in the private sector is primarily motivated by profit and that is why they come to work is just simply not accurate … we employ 675,000 people and they are primarily motivated by pretty much the same as would motivate someone in the public sector.”

    In the £1.5bn deal being discussed by West Midlands and Surrey police, the list of policing activities up for grabs includes investigating crimes, detaining suspects, developing cases, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, managing intelligence, managing engagement with the public, as well as more traditional back-office functions such as managing forensics, providing legal services, managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources.

    Chris Sims, West Midlands chief constable, has said his force is a good testing ground for fundamental change as he battled to find £126m of savings. He said the armed forces had embraced a greater role for the private sector more fully than the police without sparking uproar.

    But a home affairs select committee report said many of the policing contracts being put up for tender amounted to a “fishing expedition”. MPs added that they were not convinced the forces understood what they were doing. The committee chair, Keith Vaz, said: “The Home Office must ensure it knows what services local forces wish to contract out before agreeing to allow expenditure of £5m on what is little more than a fishing expedition.”

    Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police announced this month that they were considering privatising some services in an attempt to tackle a £73m funding shortfall created by government cuts. Police authority members in the three counties will be asked to consider how services including HR, finance and IT could be outsourced in line with the G4S contract in Lincolnshire as part of a joint recommendation made by the three chief constables.

    Find this story at 20 June 2012

    Matthew Taylor and Alan Travis
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 20 June 2012 19.31 BST

    • This article was amended on 21 June to add a quote from a Home Office spokesperson.
    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    G4S: securing whose world?

    You are not imagining it. The G4S logo really is popping up all over the place — in your local supermarket, on your local street, on police uniforms if you happen live in the English county of Lincolnshire.

    And it’s all over the London Olympics, where 25,000 security people will be working under G4S control. The company’s bill, £300 million. (That’s right: £300 million).

    The world’s biggest security company, G4S operates in 125 countries. Slogan: Securing Your World.

    It’s based in Britain, where it is fast taking over vital public services. . . in policing, running prisons and children’s homes, dominating “asylum markets”, training magistrates, assessing welfare claimants, building and running hospitals and schools. It’s a very big player in the Private Finance Initiative.

    G4S is installing smart meters in our homes, guarding our supermarkets, supplying number-plate recognition technology to retailers, the police and the military, performing covert surveillance for insurance companies.

    In so many ways G4S is watching us.

    Since early 2010 OurKingdom has been watching G4S, shining a light on this company’s extraordinary progress and its cosy relations with government.

    Growing from our reporting on the scandal of child immigration detention here in the UK, OurKingdom’s award-winning reporting and analysis has been followed by, among others, the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and the New York Times ↑ .

    We have explored human rights abuses and child protection failings. And revisited the horrible death of Mr Ward, the Aboriginal Elder cooked to death in G4S’s care, whose case casts doubt upon often-unchallenged assumptions about the virtues of privatisation.

    We welcome fresh submissions, intelligence from within G4S, and reports, like this one, on G4S around the world. Please, let us know how G4S is securing your world.

    Find this story at 1 June 2012 

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