G4S, the scandal-haunted private security firm, is one of the world's largest companies, with 657,000 staff. It's about to get bigger, according to G4S's UK/Africa chief David Taylor-Smith, who predicts that the UK's police forces will begin to privatize, turning duties over from public employees (who are, theoretically, accountable to the public) to private mercenaries and security staff, who will be accountable only to G4S's shareholders.
Matthew Taylor and Alan Travis report in The Guardian.
Taylor-Smith said core policing would remain a public-sector preserve but added: "We have been long-term optimistic about the police and short-to-medium-term pessimistic about the police for many years. Our view was, look, we would never try to take away core policing functions from the police but for a number of years it has been absolutely clear as day to us – and to others – that the configuration of the police in the UK is just simply not as effective and as efficient as it could be."
Concern has grown about the involvement of private firms in policing. In May more than 20,000 officers took to the streets to outline their fears about pay, conditions and police privatisation. The Police Federation has warned that the service is being undermined by creeping privatisation.
Unite, the union that represents many police staff, said the potential scale of private-sector involvement in policing was "a frightening prospect". Peter Allenson, national officer, said: "This is not the back office – we are talking about the privatisation of core parts of the police service right across the country, including crime investigation, forensics, 999 call-handling, custody and detention and a wide range of police services