G4S is the world's largest provider of private security. It was founded in 1901 by a group of 20 ‘nightwatchmen’ in Copenhagen as the Kjobenhavn Frederiksberg Nattevagt (the Copenhagen and Frederiksberg Night Watch). In April 2021 it was acquired by Allied Universal.
In addition to providing private security services, G4S runs prisons, immigration detention centers, police stations, as well as asylum housing. Migrant rights and prison rights groups have fiercely criticized G4S operations in Israel, South Africa and in the UK over human rights abuses. For example, in 2010 Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan refugee in the UK, died on October 12, 2010 while being restrained by G4S guards who were hired to help deport him from the country. In 2018, the UK government took control of a G4S-run prison in Birmingham after finding that violence and drug abuse were rife.
A G4S guard has been accused of helping a convicted criminal escape from Mangaung maximum security prison in South Africa. Previous reports on the Mangaung prison documented violence and anti-psychotic drugs used by G4S guards to subdue inmates.
Security service and technology, cash-in-transit services, risk management, prison and asylum housing management.
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(April 27, 2023)
- The Misery Merchants by Ruth Hopkins (2020)
- The Privatization of Israeli Security by Shir Hever (2017)
- Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe by Antony Lowenstein (2015)
Other Key Sources
- Business and Human Rights Resource Centre's profile on G4S - UK-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is an NGO that employs researchers on five continents who work with activists, companies and governments alike to advance human rights in business by eradicating abuse.
- Mirador's profile on G4S - Mirador is a project of the France-based NGO Research Group for an Alternative Economic Strategy (GRESEA), which monitors abuse carried out by the largest multinational corporations in France and the world.
- We Own It's profile on G4S - We Own It is a UK-based NGO that campaigns against privatization and for the public ownership of services like energy, health, schools and water.
- Corporate Watch's profile on G4S - Corporate Watch is a research group that helps people stand up against corporations and capitalism. Corporate Watch is a separate organisation from Corpwatch.
United States: Student groups call on Yale to cancel contract with British security company, alleging human rights violations
Yale Daily News | Nathaniel Rosenberg | April 19, 2023
Yalies 4 Palestine is calling on Yale to cancel its contract with a British security company that they say is committing human rights abuses around the globe.
Eyewitness News | Kgomotso Modise | March 31, 2023
About 300 Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members were on Friday singing and demonstrating outside the Mangaung Correctional Centre, calling for the immediate termination of the facility’s contract with G4S.
Belgium: Security officers (G4S) announce a strike at Brussels Airport for Monday 20 June, queues expected
Aviation24.be | June 11, 2022
A new day, and new disturbances are expected for passengers traveling from Brussels Airport. This time, security officers working for G4S at Belgium’s biggest airport announced a strike for Monday 20 June.
Morning Star | Helen O Connor | April 11, 2022
Croydon hospital domestics and porters were desperate and downtrodden before they started their successful campaign for pay justice. G4S workers were left starving and unable to pay their bills, particularly if they incurred injuries at work or they were sick during the pandemic.
The Advertiser | December 6, 2021
Guards made a second stand claiming prison owners G4S had failed to meet their demands with banners, flags and blasting We're Not Gonna Take It...
BDS | BDS Movement | March 29, 2021
A group of 23 MEPs wrote to President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli concerning the institution’s contract with the British multinational security company G4S.
Corporate Watch | January 1, 2018
As we have reported in recent updates, the Home Office is re-tendering its major contracts for housing asylum seekers, currently held by corporates including the usual outsourcing suspects G4S and Serco. In recent years these contractors have been slammed for the appalling conditions, as asylum housing has become a byword for squalor,, management intimidation, and facilitating racist attacks.
Teivo Teivainen | May 21, 2015
The University of Helsinki changes its provider of security services. The previous provider was G4S, widely criticized for its alleged human rights violations in Palestine/Israel and elsewhere.
War on Want | Summer 2014
Following the spectacular failure of G4S to fulfill its security contract for the London 2012 Olympics, you would be forgiven for thinking that the only way for G4S was up. However, 2013 was not a good year for the world’s largest Private Military and Security Company.
Change.org | 2013
In May 2013 King’s College London (KCL) announced a security contract put out for tender for which the British-Danish security giant ‘Group4Securicor’ (G4S) is bidding. G4S is already providing our University with its services through G4S Security Services UK LTD and G4S Technology LTD. There is also a potential £10 million contract with G4S in the pipeline to secure KCL residence halls.
Trade union campaign | 2013
In 2013 the Executive Committee of UNITE agreed to produce a briefing on G4S. Unite members, and the wider trade union movement, have every reason to challenge G4S as it tramples over public services and our policies opposing privatisation, against racism, and in favour of effective international solidarity, similar to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions which helped to end the apartheid regime in South Africa.
John Grayson | April 12, 2012
A Yorkshire campaign deploys rigorous research to expose and resist the astonishing corporate takeover of Britain’s ‘asylum seeker markets’.
- BDS/ Stop G4S group
- Corporate Watch
- We Own It
- UNI (union)
- Employees International Union (SEIU)
- The National Union of Teachers
- The Fire Brigades Union
- War on Want
- The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)
- OECD Watch
- RAID UK
- War Resisters International
- The American Friends Service Committee
- Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC)
- Bail for Immigration Detainees
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- Yalies 4 Palestine
GroundUp | Daniel Steyn, James Stent & Marecia Damons | March 30, 2023
National Commissioner of Correctional Services Makgothi Thobakgale announced on Thursday that a temporary manager has been appointed to take control of Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) from G4S. This follows the escape of rapist and murderer Thabo Bester in May 2022.
Children & Young People Now | Joe Lepper | October 13, 2021
Inspectors note that children may be locked up for even longer, after raising further concerns around the recording of data at the G4S run facility.
US Department of Justice | June 25, 2021
G4S Secure Solutions NV (G4S) agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to rig bids, allocate customers, and fix prices for defense-related security services provided in Belgium to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Serious Fraud Office (SFO) | September 8, 2020
The Serious Fraud Office has charged three former executives of G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd (G4S C&J) with multiple offences in relation to a multi-year scheme to defraud the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
The Guardian | Rob Davies | July 10, 2020
Security firm G4S has been fined £44m by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) as part of an agreement that will see it avoid prosecution for overcharging the Ministry of Justice for the electronic tagging of offenders, some of whom had died.
United States: G4S to pay at least US$100min to settle class action suit against the firm in California
Proactive | Jon Hopkins | January 23, 2019
The FTSE 250-listed firm said the class action related to claims for meal and rest breaks under California law, covering approximately 13,500 employees over the period 2001 to 2010.
The Guardian | Melissa Davey | December 27, 2018
The Australian government and the security giant it contracts to secure offshore detention centres, G4S, are facing a raft of lawsuits alleging staff were put at risk while working on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, suffering physical and psychological harm during riots.
Private Security Network | Ruth Hopkins | December 7, 2018
British multinational security company G4S wants the high court in Pretoria to suppress evidence that could reveal widespread torture and abuse of prisoners at its Mangaung prison in Bloemfontein.
United Kingdom: Employee who suffered racist insult from contractor awarded £26,000 for discrimination
People Management | Lauren Brown | November 5, 2018
The employer of a man who felt unable to return to work after a co-worker shouted a racist remark at him in a corridor was guilty of racial discrimination for failing to adequately investigate his complaints, a tribunal has ruled.
The Guardian | David Pegg | July 27, 2015
G4S, the controversial British outsourcing firm behind the disastrous security provision at the London Olympics, has been accused of running a “disgraceful” juvenile detention centre in Florida.
The Guardian | Ben Quinn and Eric Allison | June 9, 2016
Three men and two women detained on suspicion of misconduct in public office as investigation continues into allegations of abuse by staff at Kent institution.
The Guardian | Diane Taylor | September 7, 2017
Judge says Home Office cannot deport man while he pursues damages following alleged treatment at Brook House IRC.
Inquest | July 9, 2013
A jury has returned a verdict of unlawful killing (unlawful act killing) in the inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga. Jimmy Mubenga, a healthy 46 year old Angolan man, died on 12 October 2010 following face-forward restraint in his seat by three G4S security guards on a British Airways flight from Heathrow airport to Angola.
ABC News | August 12, 2011
Prison transport company G4S has been fined $285,000 for its involvement in the death of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward.
eNCA | April 14, 2023
A report by the Department of Correctional Services into Thabo Bester's escape revealed a number of breaches of contract by G4S.
Eyewitness News | Kgomotso Modise | April 13, 2023
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) accused security company G4S of firing some of its members at the prison that Thabo Bester escaped from in order to avoid paying their pension pay-outs... They questioned G4S’s decision to fire four junior staff members, saying an escape of that kind could not have been manned by a junior.
East Coast Radio | Steve Bhengu | April 12, 2023
Representatives of G4S, the security company that runs the jail from where Thabo Bester escaped, has come under fire for allegedly not conducting lifestyle audits on its prison staff.
The Guardian | Mattha Busby | August 22, 2022
A mixed-race woman was disciplined and later sacked from a G4S coronavirus testing centre after suggesting colleagues could adopt the black power salute for a photo in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The Sowetan | Penwell Dlamini | January 21, 2022
This week, the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission (BBBEEC) said that it had received proof of payment of the R20m from G4S, which it imposed as a fine after it found the company to be fronting last year.
Private Security Network | Ibiba Donpedro | February 9, 2021
Chevron Nigeria Limited’s Security Contractor G4S owes hundreds of ex-staff millions of naira in unpaid gratuity. The company denies current staff union membership rights in a culture of violation of workers’ rights that will not be tolerated elsewhere, writes Ibiba DonPedro.
Private Security Network | Gregory Gondwe | May 27, 2020
One night in March 2017, Kondwani Banda (not real name), a security officer for G4S Malawi, got badly injured when he tried to stop a group of heavily armed robbers armed with machetes who set out to rob a mobile phone tower he was guarding in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital.
Private Security Network | Varsha Torgalkar | May 20, 2020
“I have been working for 12 hours, from 7 pm to 7 am daily, as a private security guard. I work 30 days in a row without any days off. After 30 days I visit my wife in our village for 4 or 5 days. G4S India, [my] employer, does not give me a weekly off day or paid public holidays,” said Damor Chhanabhai Arjunbhai, age 23.
A security empire deployed guards with violent pasts across the U.S. Some went on to rape, assault or kill
USA Today | Brett Murphy, Nick Penzenstadler | October 31, 2019
G4S has sometimes given power, authority and weapons to individuals who represent the very threat they are meant to guard against. Documents show the company's American subsidiaries have hired or retained at least 300 employees with questionable records, including criminal convictions, allegations of violence and prior law enforcement careers that ended in disgrace.
Open Democracy | John Grayson | June 26, 2017
“The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there,” neighbours warned. “It’s because we are black, they don’t care,” one tenant said. They’re talking about a hostel that is home to six families and their nine children, most of them babies and toddlers.”
TRT World | Halima Mansoor | January 12, 2017
The energy firm Total and security company G4S left the country in 2015 as conflict between the Houthis and the government escalated, leaving over 200 local employees in the lurch.
Mail and Guardian | Ruth Hopkins | October 11, 2013
Following the third hostage drama since the inception of the privately run Mangaung Correctional Centre in 2000, the department of correctional services announced on Wednesday that it would take over the management of the prison.
According to a 2019 search in the Orbis database, G4S had 740 subsidiaries.
G4S subsidiaries according to Sourcewatch:
- AMAG Technology, Inc.
- Cognisa Security, Inc.
- Group 4 Securitas Northern Ireland, Ltd.
- Group 4 Security Systems, Ltd.
- Group 4 Technology, Ltd.
- Group 4 Total Security, Ltd.
- G4S Israel (Hashmira)
- Henderson Security Electronics, Ltd.
- Plantime Ltd
- Securicor Cash Services
- Securicor EMS, Inc.
- Securicor International Valuables Transport
- Securicor Justice Services, Ltd.
- Securicor New Century LLC
- Securicor Security Services, Ltd
- Securitas Technology, Plc.
- Wackenhut Corporation
- Wackenhut International
- Wackenhut UK, Ltd
Major funders of Allied Universal:
G4S is no longer listed on the London or Copenhagen Stock Exchange. It has been acquired by American private security provider Allied Universal, which is privately funded and therefore it has no shareholders.
G4S's major shareholders before Allied bought the company:
- Group BPCE
- Harris Associates
- Atlantic Value Investment Partnership
- Mondrian Investment Partners
- Marathon Asset Management
- Brandes Worldwide Holding
- Schroders PLC
Open Secrets - Tracks corporate lobbying of US politicians.
Private Security Network | Jackie Wahome | July 9, 2021
The opaqueness of public procurement may be losing Kenya much needed tax revenues that would greatly ease the tax burden on ordinary Kenyans.
BBC | Anna Meisel | May 10, 2021
More than 40,000 people from the Philippines have been recruited to front British companies as part of schemes costing the UK "hundreds of millions of pounds" in lost taxes.
SOMO | July 2020
This report investigates, on behalf of the Private Security Network, a number of financial aspects concerning the G4S group, such as ownership, debt, financial results, corporate structure, tax practices and business model.
In Accountancy News | May 13, 2016
The company, G4S Cash Solutions, tried to reduce their corporation tax bill by approximately £580,000 but the first-tier tribunal has ruled in HMRC’s favour in rejecting the claim for the deduction of the fines.
Sydney Morning Herald | Ben Butler | February 28, 2014
The sacked operator of a controversial immigration detention centre at Manus Island, G4S, paid no Australian tax in 2012, Fairfax Media has learnt.
United Kingdom: Atos, G4S paid no corporation tax last year despite carrying out £2billion of taxpayer-funded work
The Telegraph | Christopher Hope| November 12, 2013
Two of the country’s biggest private contractors paid no corporation tax in Britain last year, despite carrying out billions of pounds of taxpayer funded work for the Government, an official audit finds.
The Daily Mail | Alex Hawkes | March 3, 2013
Almost one in four of Britain’s biggest listed companies paid no corporation tax in this country last year – and almost half fail to disclose their tax payments to the UK at all, according to research by The Mail on Sunday.
FMJ | Sarah O Beirne | November 11, 2022
Lincolnshire Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) Marc James has said in a statement that he will not be renewing the forces £200 million contract with G4S.
Reuters | Yadarisa Shabong | March 16, 2021
The G4S takeover saga finally came to an end on Tuesday after a majority of the security company’s shareholders accepted a 3.8 billion pound ($5.28 billion) offer from U.S. rival Allied Universal, snubbing hostile Canadian bidder GardaWorld.
NewFrame | Ruth Hopkins | January 13, 2021
The company controversially continues to bag huge contracts despite dramas and scandals in the correctional facilities it runs in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The Guardian | Mattha Busby | September 24, 2019
Undercover footage from BBC’s Panorama at Brook House in 2017 showed officials mocking, abusing and assaulting detainees at the facility. A detainee was filmed being throttled by a member of G4S staff, and there were claims of systematic abuse.
Committees Parliament | July 22, 2019
A NAO investigation conducted for the Home Affairs Committee, following a Panorama programme which revealed shocking levels of abuse against detainees, has shown for the first time that G4S has made £14.3 million in profit from Brook House immigration removal centre between 2012 and 2018.
The Guardian | Jessica Elgot | August 20, 2018
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been forced to take immediate control of HMP Birmingham from its contractor G4S, after a damning inspection found that prisoners used drink, drugs and violence with impunity and corridors were littered with cockroaches, blood and vomit.
The Independent | Sara Apps | March 11, 2016
G4S has finally announced that it will be selling its subsidiary, G4S Israel, “in the next 12 to 24 months”. The news has been greeted with jubilation from campaigners who have led a sustained boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the organisation over the last four years.
Business & Human Rights Resource Center | Morgan Lapeyre | February 25, 2014
G4S...lost an Australian government contract for an asylum seekers detention center after an investigation found deficient safety arrangements...Transfield Services...will take over...to provide security and welfare services at the offshore detention center at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea...
Business Insider | Adam Taylor | July 19, 2012
When G4S announced it would be signing a $355 million contract for services at the London Olympics this year, many eyebrows were raised.