G4S: Securing whose world?

In a privatised children's prison, a care worker restrained a boy who died; G4S promoted him. After guards killed an asylum-seeker on a plane, G4S was handed a public contract to provide housing for asylum-seekers — they've made a mess of that. In a prison van in Australia they baked a man to death.

Welcome to OurKingdom's investigation into G4S, the security and surveillance people who see democratic uprisings as a business opportunity. They're running privatised public services worldwide.

This work, led by award-winning reporter Clare Sambrook, followed by the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and the New York Times, is part of the Shine A Light project.


Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal

Barbara is an asylum seeker living in the UK. How the government’s immigration crackdown creates opportunities for humiliation and profit.

The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children

“They look at you like you’re a dog, making you strip is bang out of order.” The final shocking extract from Children Behind Bars.

Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons

Joseph Scholes and Adam Rickwood died within weeks of being placed in penal institutions. Carolyne Willow met the boys’ mothers, and tells their stories in her shocking book, Children Behind Bars.

Prison, a treacherous place for a child

Thirty-three children have died in English child prisons since 1990. A powerful new book exposes how Britain’s most vulnerable children are routinely damaged by the state. 

Exploding the myth of ‘payment by results’

National Audit Office issues damning report on outsourcing model that claims to guarantee value for money.

Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord

Why would the UK government let its commercial contractor get away with housing vulnerable asylum seekers in dangerous slums?

Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison

G4S appoints “new leadership” at Rainsbrook: the man in charge when Gareth Myatt, 15, was restrained to death, the man who told an inquest he hadn’t read the restraint manual.

G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored

Investigations and reports into allegations of widespread human-rights violations at G4S-run Mangaung prison have stalled. Can anyone wrangle the private security behemoth? 

UK Election: Crime & Justice, what do the parties offer?

A leading advocate for penal reform assesses the parties’ manifestos.

How to survive in prison

Amid a crisis of suicides and assaults across prisons in England and Wales, one former inmate offers advice on staying safe. (See also: Danger, overcrowding, no time to talk: a UK prison officer speaks out).

Dying for Justice: black and minority ethnic deaths in custody

509 suspicious deaths of people from BME, migrant and asylum seeker communities in state custody over 23 years. Five prosecutions. Not one single conviction. A chilling report from the Institute of Race Relations.

openDemocracy writers longlisted for Orwell Prize

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Clare Sambrook are among 15 writers in contention for one of journalism’s highest honours.

UK activists prevent deportation of Afghan migrants

Activists "put their bodies on the line" to delay a deportation flight to 'unsafe' Afghanistan.

One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S

On a suburban street in Leeds, security company G4S packs 23 women and children into one house with a single bathroom.

UK immigration detention: the truth is out

Successive governments have ignored and dismissed complaints of suffering in UK immigration lock-ups. This week, in Parliament and on national television, fresh evidence has been heard.

'Headbutt the bitch' Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre

For years women locked up inside Yarl’s Wood, a UK government lock-up in Bedfordshire, have complained of racist abuse, sexual abuse and shoddy medical treatment. Now there is video evidence. WATCH ‘INSIDE YARL’S WOOD’ CHANNEL 4 NEWS

Justice blindfolded? The case of Jimmy Mubenga

Following the acquittal on 16 December of the G4S guards charged with the manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga, barrister Frances Webber, chair of the Institute of Race Relations, focuses on the judge’s decision to rule inadmissible evidence pointing to endemic racism within G4S.

The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told

Jimmy Mubenga died under restraint by three G4S guards. Extreme racist texts found on two of the guards’ phones were withheld from the jury who yesterday cleared all three men of manslaughter. (Warning: this piece contains highly offensive language)

Parliamentary watchdog: too often private sector contractors' ethical standards found wanting

A culture of revenue and profit-driven performance incentives has too often been misaligned with the needs of the public who fund and depend on these services. Margaret Hodge MP writes on the Public Accounts Committee's new report on the contracting out of public services.

The hazards of going to war for profit

The privatisation of military force causes problems that can’t be addressed by regulation alone.

The national shame that is healthcare in UK immigration detention

Four years ago G4S was involved in the unlawful killing of an immigration detainee called Jimmy Mubenga. Now they're winning NHS contracts to care for detainees.

How children’s charity Barnardo’s locks up kids with Guantánamo contractor G4S

Britain’s leading children’s charity helps the world’s biggest security company lock up children who have committed no crime.

Filth, overcrowding, five suicides in one year at Wormwood Scrubs. No prisons crisis?

A toxic mix of drastic cuts and fewer staff, rising prison numbers and harsher and less purposeful regimes are putting the clock back on prison reform.

Investigating Mitie, the market leader in UK immigration detention

A company called Mitie cleans Odeon cinemas and NHS hospitals . . . Now, all of a sudden, they're the UK government's favoured supplier for locking up immigration detainees. How did that happen?

G4S private army of Gurkhas wins medals for gallantry in Kabul

  • • Honour citation sheds light on security industry's role in 'War on Terror'.
  • • G4S Gurkhas deployed against environmental protesters in the UK.

Leaky ceilings and racist abuse: asylum housing in Scotland

A Scottish Refugee Council report adds weight to calls for UK-wide review of asylum housing.

Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract

G4S, the UK government outsourcer that supports Israeli security services on the West Bank, will serve Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

One Man, Two Guvnors: the conflict at the heart of British justice

Yesterday Chris Grayling, who is both Minister of State for Justice (dismantling the legal aid system) and Lord Chancellor (sworn to uphold the rule of law), gave evidence before the House of Commons Justice Committee.

Coroner: prisoner got ‘sub-optimal care’ at G4S Oakwood Prison

  • • For almost an hour after Steve Ham was found unresponsive, G4S guards failed to call an ambulance
  • • Panic, inexperience, understaffing and lack of transparency exposed at UK's flagship private prison
  • • “An excellent model for the future of the Prison Service,” said justice minister Chris Grayling when Oakwood opened

Activists call upon Angelina Jolie to meet rape survivors in a UK detention centre

In London, at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, rape survivors protest against the UK government's treatment of women fleeing sexual violence

Lessons from Australia: talking about privatised immigration detention

Do detention companies deliberately escalate tensions so they can extract more money from governments? Bart Denaro, Antony Loewenstein, Ramesh Fernandez and Brynn O'Brien shine a light on a thriving trade in human misery.

Migrant boys, all alone in the UK

“I see people walking around with their mum and dad and I can’t even talk to my family.” A child flees Afghanistan for the UK. What happens next?

Barnardo's and G4S, partners in the child detention business

Four years ago the coalition government promised to end child detention for immigration purposes. But they didn't. Instead, the UK's biggest children's charity and security giant G4S created a prettier prison.

'Neither criminals, nor animals!' A week of unrest in Britain's migrant jails

Lack of legal representation. Poor medical care. Threat of solitary confinement. Immigration detainees in England and Scotland protest against what they claim is routine inhumanity by the state and its commercial contractors.

We must do more to protect children and young people in prison

Filthy cells with broken windows, open to the elements. Life in England's worst prison — and it's for young people.

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