5 G4S Workers Arrested for Violent Abuse of Teens in Private Youth Prison

January 14, 2016   |   Michaela Whitton

Michaela Whitton
January 14, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Five men have posted bail after a BBC Panorama investigation into abuse at a young offenders centre in Kent. Four were arrested on suspicion of child neglect and a fifth was held on suspicion of assault. The employees of controversial security firm G4S were dismissed after being caught on camera abusing teenagers. The world’s largest private security company has long been exposed for its complicity in global human rights abuses, but Monday night’s programme uncovered violence and abuse a little closer to home.

Undercover filming at the G4S-run Medway Secure Centre stunned viewers after footage documenting numerous counts of child cruelty by employees of the multi-national company was revealed. Police are investigating allegations of the use of unnecessary force after staff were shown punching and slapping children.

Some of the allegations being investigated include:

 Staff punching a youngster in the ribs and slapping another several times on the head.

— Staff pressed heavily on the necks of young people and unnecessarily used restraint techniques, including squeezing a teenager’s windpipe so that he had difficulty breathing.

— Staff used foul language to frighten and intimidate youngsters and boasted of mistreating young people, including using a fork to stab one in the leg.

— Claims workers tried to conceal their behaviour by ensuring they were out of sight of CCTV cameras or in areas not covered by them.

The rapidly growing company — sadly emblematic of Britain’s private military and security industry — made a statement saying it is fully supportive of the arrests made and apologised to the young people involved. It said the firm will provide police officers with full access to CCTV footage from the centre and declared there is no place in their company for abuse.

However, this isn’t the first time the spotlight has been shone on the dirty dealings of the misery-profiteering multinational. The long-running campaign dedicated to opposing G4S and preventing it from taking over public services for private profit while violating human rights is backed by a range of activists and human rights groups. Sadly, with U.K. government contracts alone worth over £600 million, G4S just gets bigger and bigger.

Profiting from conflict: G4S seeks out new profit-making opportunities throughout the world’s conflict zones, escalating militarisation, increasing instability, and exploiting state crises. Hired by governments and companies to perform operations that were previously carried out by national military forces, private military and security companies have become the modern equivalent of mercenaries: armed civilians operating for profit in conflict zones. According to War on Want: “G4S is one of the UK’s most reviled companies engaged in conflict related profit making the world over.”

Violation of workers rights: The handsome profit earned by G4S from its contribution to global injustice goes directly to the top managers, shareholders, investors, and advisers, who connect the global giant to government contracts. Meanwhile regular employees have faced precarious labour contracts and poor working conditions, resulting in disputes in over a dozen countries.

Privatising government services: G4S’s role in the privatisation of government services in the U.K. has left a trail of financial and human rights abuses. An important ‘outsourcing partner’ for the U.K. government, the company now has its fingers in the pies of a range of services including the military, justice, police, welfare, and immigration. In 2013, the company faced a fraud investigation after overcharging the government for the electronic tagging of prisoners and agreed to repay £109 million plus tax.

Complicity in and profiteering from Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinians through its involvement in Israel’s prison system. G4S helps run prisons inside Israel that hold prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory. Through its involvement, the company is complicit in violations of international law and fully participates in the use of mass incarceration to dissuade Palestinians from protesting against the state’s systematic human rights abuses. G4S also provides equipment and services to the military checkpoints throughout the West Bank that form part of the illegal separation barrier.

In November 2015, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the U.K. Labour Party voted to end its security contract with G4S, due to concerns the company had acted unethically and breached its human rights obligations in the Guidelines for Multinational Companies.

After the airing of Monday night’s programme, promises of a yet another review into how the incident occurred and a vague commitment to make sure it doesn’t happen again will not be enough for many. G4S contracts should be revoked immediately and the real investigation should begin into why the U.K. government is selling the souls of Britain’s most vulnerable to the grubby hands of toxic organisations.


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Author: Michaela Whitton

Michaela Whitton joined Anti-Media as its first journalist abroad in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include human rights, conflict, the Middle East, Palestine, and Israel. Born and residing in the United Kingdom, she is also a photographer.

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