Laurie Penny for the Independent, provides a tidy little piece highlighting the soon to be ubiquitous G4S security firm. G4S holds much of the 2012 Olympic security contract and is the Walmart of private security (it actually comes in at #2 behind Walmart in terms of company size.) Penny asks the pertinent question as to why we should care if policing is done by uniformed officers of the London Constabulary versus a private firm. I get a bit irriated with her suggestion that “Impartiality of the Law” is the reason we need to have the state provide policing. Ms. Penny herself knows that this is no guarantee of due process given her experience covering Occupy London. No, the real issue is not impartiallity of the law but the accountability of the people holding the chains of the security apparatus. Imperfect as it is the fact that those people are elected representatives means there is a modicum of accountability. A private secuirty firm goes rogue on a population and you can point to the firm as an anomaly. Not the state’s fault. When the police run amok, there is an undeniable link between master and servant. Regardless Penny provides some useful context for the G4S contract including tactics used and the firm’s track record globally.
Outside the UK, G4S operates in 125 different countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, where its paid agents operate checkpoints and provide security at jails for Palestinian prisoners, including child detainees. Israel, where the company’s turnover is £120m, will be the subject of the question to be raised in Parliament on Monday regarding whether the presence of operatives in occupied Palestinian territories, including in prisons that hold children, violates the terms of the Olympic charter.