With the Olympic circus in full swing, today was the day that G4S, otherwise known as Group 4 were supposed to lock down sites…but only a fraction of their staff actually showed up and the police and army were called in to cover for them, no doubt at considerable expense. Indeed it has to be annoying for the army and police to be called in to do a job for an industry, when the government clearly has designs on outsourcing more of the UK’s security to private companies (both in terms of privatised policing but also in the use of mercenarys to fight future wars).
I would argue that what recent events demonstrate, there are things that the private sector can do and do well. Using them to guard certain buildings and events which are operated in the private sector seems sensible. But relying on them for operations such as the Olympics or securing government property is clearly a bad idea. And as I mentioned in a prior post, such policies have been tried and failed in the past. The government is fooling itself if it things it can save money this way.
And this is not the first time Group 4 have let the country down, you will recall that after they took over the job of transporting prisoners from prison to court, their name became synonymous with prison escapes (on one occasion a prisoner simply told the group 4 guards he’d been let off by the judge and they released him!).
Then there was the business a few months back involving another private security firm, where a number of people who the local dole office had volunteered (its called press-ganged in other parts of the world…or just slavery!) to work for free on a corporate welfare chain gang were left to sleep under a bridge in London (having brought in to provide security for the Jubilee regatta).
And speaking of saving money, there is also a report out about the UKBA and how its attempts to save money by letting go of staff (what class of a fool sacks staff in the lead up to a major event like the Olympics?). Instead, they are now having to get the remaining staff work overtime and hire in temporary staff to cover the shortfall. These thrift people cost themselves more money than they save!