The Guardian newspaper has today published an article which raises grave concerns in relation to the conduct of G4S staff members employed within Young Offenders Institutions. The Shadow Home Secretary has called for G4S contracts to be terminated after seven members of staff were suspended following abuse claims at a youth offenders institution in Kent.
BBC Panorama carried out an undercover investigation in which the reporter was able to witness first hand, and gain footage of, children being seriously assaulted and unnecessarily restrained by members of staff employed by G4S.
G4S is the world’s largest security firm and has been subject to inspection in the past. These inspections have resulted in G4S being penalised and warned for some of its substandard practices. Allegations of inappropriate conduct have even been raised by staff employed within these institutions, but not employees of G4S. These allegations have included drug taking and carrying out behaviour causing young detainees to feel humiliated and distressed.
This raises further questions as to the competency of G4S staff to safeguard children who are already extremely vulnerable. If the above allegations are founded, it is absolutely unacceptable if this company is permitted to continue providing services to young offender’s institutions. Those who have been suspended should be subject to police investigations if it is the case that the allegations against them have been founded.
The Guardian states, following its investigations of 14 children who had been unlawfully restrained in Secure Training Centre’s run by G4S and Serco, damages amounting to £100,000 were awarded. Neither company admitted liability, but paid two thirds of the damages. The remainder was paid by the Youth Justice Board. These facts are something the Government should be taking extremely seriously in reviewing the systems in place and moreover, ought to hold G4S to accountability. Furthermore, it is shocking that despite previous serious findings, G4S is still being granted contracts allowing the company to deploy its staff thus permitting them to inadequately safeguard young people, undoubtedly, putting them at serious risk of harm.
It cannot be said whether these findings and malpractices stem from a managerial level or whether it is one that falls lower down the ranks raising potentially serious training issues. Never the less, it is right to say that G4S should be stripped of its contract to run youth justice centres to avoid putting further children at risk from those placed there to protect their wellbeing.
The programme is to air on BBC tonight which will disclose the extent of Panorama’s tragic findings.