Friday 5 October 2012

Reform - a voice for corporations – G4S

G4S are the most powerful security company in the world, so why do a 'charity' need to offer them further support?

Bringing the activities of the think tank Reform to the public eye, Social Investigations is producing a series of articles which looks at the corporations they partner, and their claim that they are excluded from Whitehall policy. So far, the corporations covered have been Aviva and BMI Healthcare.
Reform's claim is this: 'We are keen to involve corporate organisations in our research because their expertise is often left out of the Whitehall policy discussion.’ – Reform website – corporate partners page

Dictionary definition of a charity:An organisation set up to provide help and raise money for those in need’.
Giving a voice to G4S
Corporate Watch the excellent non-profit research project, has revealed how ‘G4S has grown to be the largest employer on the London Stock Exchange (657,000 staff members and counting) and has expanded its operations to 125 countries; the biggest security company in the world’.

G4S has access to the very top, paying the former
Labour Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Reid, as a director and Lord Condon who is a Non-executive Deputy Chairman & Senior Independent Director.

G4S are asked often to give evidence on issues relating to their work and contracts as you might expect, they are invited and sometimes compelled to do so. Since 2010, G4S have had at least 17 government meetings and given 7 oral presentations to government. However, their discussions with government also include giving evidence that can help define policy. In November 2010, G4S gave written evidence to the Work and Pension Committee on the ‘Work programme’.

In March 2011, G4S gave written evidence to the Home affairs Committee on the ‘future landscape of policing’. In amongst the evidence they inform the committee of how their ‘plans to design and build purpose-built custody suites for forces, with embedded medical services and technical infrastructure would slash running costs for a police force by up to 40%’.

Corporate Watch
state how: ‘G4S’ policing portfolio already includes 30 'custody suites', with over 500 cells, which it rents to small- to mid-sized police forces around the country.’ Indeed, nine months after giving their written evidence, G4S won a contract to takeover core policing functions from Lincolnshire police force.

According to the Guardian, G4S is also bidding for contracts worth £1.5 billion for providing services to Surrey and the West Midlands Police, which include:  investigating crimes, patrolling neighbourhoods and detaining suspects.’

Therefore the assertion by Reform that a company like G4S is ‘
left out of the Whitehall policy discussion’, is ridiculous and the time to end Reform’s charity status is overdue.

Just in case they need any help, Reform has been consistently promoting a change to policing, promoting the outsourcing of the force. In February 2009, Reform produced a
report called ‘A New Force.’

The author’s of the report called for its total restructuring, accusing the 43 forces as being ‘run as fiefdoms by their Chief Constables’. High praise, however when we look at the author’s background, it becomes clear none of the report’s authors have any experience in the police whatsoever. Andrew Haldenby studied history at Cambridge, before spending more time in education before joining Reform. Elizabeth Truss who was educated at Oxford worked in sales and as an economist. As a backbencher her policy areas were childcare and maths education. Dale Bassett used to work as a City headhunter before joining Reform, and Laurie Thraves is the Education researcher at Reform.

In May 2011, Reform produced another
report titled: ‘It can be done.’ In it they highlight the outsourcing of ‘police custody suites’ being run by G4S as a case study for why this should be expanded. When G4S messed up the security arrangements for the Olympics, the BBC reported the body representing South Wales Police officers as saying ‘G4S should not be given any more government contracts until the Olympic security "debacle" is sorted out’. 

Horrified at the implications of G4S’s failure, the director of Reform, Andrew Haldenby, appeared in the Telegraph in July to say ‘
G4S’s troubles over its Olympic contract is a headache for the Games, but for others it is manna from heaven...But these people should look at the evidence of how outsourcing has worked in practice.’

A further article written by Haldenby, which appeared in the Times in the same month was even more stout in the defence of G4S: ‘the coalition’ he stated, ‘is not proposing to ask G4S to bid to supply bobbies in competition with the local authorities. It might be worth a look, though — if only to wipe a little of the smugness off the faces of spokesmen from the trade union known as the Association of Chief Police Officers, who have spent the past week wallowing in G4S’s embarrassment.’

These articles represent just a few examples of Reform’s support for G4S and general police privatisation; there is many more. The Telegraph continually provides a platform for Reform in all areas of privatisation, allowing their words to be splayed across their paper without challenge. G4S have billions of pounds worth of contracts, provide evidence regularly and are at the forefront of police outsourcing, and despite the Olympic failings, the government have no intention of
halting their programme of privatising our police.

Reform, paid by G4S and with two Lords on their payroll are not left out of ‘Whitehall discussion.’ Reform is a conduit to privatisation and has no right to be called a charity, the Charity Commission must strip them of their status.

Download the G4S PDF here.

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