Three years ago the security company G4S boasted that it had radically improved emergency call handling times for Lincolnshire Police.
John Shaw, managing director for G4S policing support services, which took over the bulk of Lincolnshire’s operations in 2012, told the BBC that with G4S involved: “Hopefully the service people get from the police is as good as it was, if not better.”
Today G4S admitted that it had suspended 5 members of staff working with Lincolnshire Police “following an investigation led by the force with support from G4S”.
2013: G4S boasts of improved performance on 999 calls
G4S claimed it was cooperating with an investigation into “allegations that members of staff in the force control room made repeated 999 'test calls' at quiet times to improve perceived overall call handling performance.”
Again John Shaw popped up, this time to reassure the public: “We have suspended 5 employees today and have taken swift action to begin our investigation process,” he said.
Shaw claimed he was “dismayed that this group of staff sought to influence important performance measurements. We continue to work closely with the force and share any data and other information required.”
Should the public trust G4S and Lincolnshire police to investigate?
The pair are commercial partners in a groundbreaking outsourcing contract, worth £200 million over ten years.
Just a few years ago G4S and its competitor Serco were caught cheating the public purse out of tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging contracts.
And the “world’s largest security company” has a long history of blaming rogue employees for corporate wrongdoing.
G4S Lincolnshire police epaulette
After G4S cooked a prisoner to death in the back of an overheated van in Western Australia in January 2008, the company tried to lay the blame on two detainee custody officers.
When the Western Australia State Coroner found in June 2009 that the State, the company and the workers had all contributed to the man’s death, Tim Hall, G4S’s mouthpiece in Australia, insisted on national television that the company’s procedures “were not totally inadequate. Why this incident happened was because two officers disobeyed an instruction they were given to stop every two hours.”
G4S and other outsourcers use performance figures to push the case for outsourced public services. Today’s revelations suggest that every one of G4S’s performance-related claims should be subjected to renewed, strict and independent scrutiny.