Outsourcing justice; G4S wants control in Britain

The world’s largest security company, privately run for profit, wants to run even more of our lives. Open Democracy… explains:

A violent burglary. The scenes of crime officer who visits your house is employed by G4S. Fibre samples are found, swabs taken and despatched to G4S Forensics. A suspect is held in police cells run by G4S, appears before magistrates trained by the company. At Crown Court the accused is found guilty, sentenced, driven to a G4S prison in a G4S van. On probation he attends a G4S work programme wearing a G4S electronic tag.

This is not some dystopian future.… All this and more is happening in Britain today.… I have only brought… together in one story… a small sample of the domestic activities of G4S, the world’s largest security company.… 

And the story is turning darker. Last week the Guardian broke news that West Midlands and Surrey police have invited bids from G4S and others to take over delivery of a wide range of services previously carried out by the police.… According to the Guardian… [7]:

“The breathtaking 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, patrolling neighbourhoods, 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.”

A West Midlands police authority spokesman told the Guardian:

“Combining with the business sector is aimed at totally transforming the way the force currently does business – improving the service provided to the public.”

It’s the largest police privatisation contract so far, with a potential value of …£1.5 billion over seven years, rising to a possible …£3.5 billion depending on how many other English forces get involved.

Our criminal justice system already provides a highly profitable supply chain to corporate interests. G4S, one of government’s favourite companies (slogan “Securing Your World”) is moving ever closer towards cartel control of every step of the process. Here are some details from the big picture.

Late last year,… Lincolnshire Police handed control of all police “services” to G4S… [8]… for perhaps 25 years, the first ten years alone valued at …£200 million.

So, G4S runs Lincolnshire’s police cells and police control rooms (with only two police officers supervising), its crime management bureau, ticket office, collisions units, criminal justice units, firearms licensing, the hiring and firing of police officers, and police computers as well as fleets of police cars, police procurement and police finances.

This past January,… Scotland’s SNP government introduced a bill to create a single Scottish police force… [9]… to “save …£1.7 billion”.

Is it the intention of the SNP government and Scottish police leaders to make the financial savings by privatising the entire Single Scottish police force?

John Shaw, managing director of G4S Police Support Services, has already held… secret talks with leaders of two Scottish police forces… [10]. In February last year the SNP Justice Secretary,… Kenny MacAskill shared a platform with John Shaw at the Policing Scotland summit… [11]. In March G4S was handed a… contract to transport… [12]… every prisoner in Scotland for the next seven years.

As more and more police “services” are being fast-tracked for outsourcing, the combination of contracts awarded piecemeal, with no Monopolies Commission oversight, is resulting in G4S grabbing contracts and policing power across the country.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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