By Peter Frost in Britain:
Dial 999 for failed firm
Thursday 26th November 2015
PETER FROST is astounded that G4S is still the favourite to win emergency response contracts after its record of custodial deaths
GARETH MYATT was a 15-year-old prisoner only three days into a 12-month sentence at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, a privatised young people’s prison run by G4S in Northamptonshire. Gareth was only 4ft 10” tall and weighed just six-and-a-half stone.
After a dispute about a toaster he was forcibly restrained by three large adult guards. The restraint technique they used resulted in Gareth becoming breathless before choking to death on his own vomit.
Eleven years later, a damning report published in May showed that things had not got any better. Rainsbrook, which opened in 1999, is a modern secure complex of buildings near Rugby designed specifically to house offenders aged between 12 and 17.
Ofsted Inspectors rated the unit inadequate — the lowest grading — and said young people suffered degrading treatment and that staff were under the influence of drugs. The report also found delays in children receiving essential medical diagnosis and treatment.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is the worst report on a prison I have ever seen because it is a catalogue of abusive practices that have been inflicted on young children who have no escape.
“These child jails run for profit are secretive and should never have been set up in the first place. Rainsbrook should be closed immediately. No child is safe in this jail.”
Now after 16 years of unsatisfactory management G4S has lost the contract. Over those 16 years at least six members of staff, including some very senior managers, were dismissed for gross misconduct.
He has asked that very same G4S to bid for the privatisation of all emergency 999 calls in Northamptonshire. The same 999 emergency calls that so often are responsible for life-or-death decisions. Before Adam Simmonds was elected in 2012 he promised not to privatise police services in Northamptonshire. “I have no intentions of privatising our police force and therefore I would be grateful if you would spread the word that this Candidate for PCC isn’t interested in that agenda,” he told local people.
So just who is Simmonds? He is a Tory and has worked for a Christian advocacy group and as an adviser to the Tory Northampton Council.
Simmonds was elected as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire in 2012. The election had a turnout of just 20 per cent. He was 35 years old when entering office, making him the youngest PCC in England.
Within three weeks of his appointment, he was accused of hiring friends including his election campaign manager Kathryn Buckle. Simmonds said that he wanted people who wanted him to succeed.
Those appointed included four assistant commissioners, each on a salary of £65,000. Simmonds has a dozen staff in his office at an annual cost of £729,100.
In January 2014 Simmonds received praise from Home Secretary Theresa May. She credited him with “looking at innovative ways to bring the blue light services together.”
Simmonds and local police chiefs have already spent £50,000 on a feasibility study working out how the G4S takeover could work. One idea appears to be having these urgent emergency calls outsourced to a call centre in another country, meaning that any local knowledge would be lost.
Three county forces — Northampton, Nottingham and Leicestershire — are looking [for] a combined privatised 999 system.
Local rank-and-file police officers are horrified, as are civilian police employees whose union Unison is leading a campaign against the 999 privatisation.
Unison regional head of police and justice Dave Ratchford told the Morning Star that the news was “very worrying” and that “justice should not be for sale.
“It is disgusting that we should have businesses trying to turn a profit out of policing. We do not believe that the general public want their policing delivered by a private provider.”
Meanwhile the directors of G4S are getting ready to make a fortune shipping out local life and death 999 calls to a call centre somewhere half way around the globe. That’s the very same company that failed so miserably to police the London Olympics, overcharged taxpayers by millions of pounds for running electronic tagging schemes and failed just as miserably to run Northamptonshire’s Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre.
“Police? Ambulance? Fire? Hold the line please, your call is important to us. We are making a fortune out of it.”
Talking about calling 999 in Britain: this is a live music video of The Clash: London’s burning.
Nick Gargan: Former chief of Avon and Somerset police hired by G4S weeks after being found guilty of misconduct. Exclusive: Mr Gargan landed the job despite a disciplinary process which found him guilty of eight counts of misconduct: here.
THE planned national introduction of a private police force to plug gaps in austerity-hit services is “utterly appalling,” Labour said today: here.