The world's largest private security company. Owns private prisons in Australia, South Africa, UK. Provides governments with multiple other punishment-related services. Operates the Israeli National Police Academy.
G4S plc is a British-Danish dually-traded company with worldwide security service operations. It is the largest security company in the world, with 585,000 employees in 125 countries. In 2017, the company’s annual revenue was £7.4 billion ($9.8 billion). G4S is involved in managing prison and detention facilities around the world, transporting immigrants for Immigrant Customs Enforcement (ICE), and electronic tagging and monitoring. The company’s “Care and Justice Services” segment, which includes correction and detention facilities in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the UK, accounts for seven percent of its total revenues in 2017.
Managing Prisons and Detention Facilities around the World
In the UK, G4S has been an important ‘outsourcing partner’ for the government, covering a wide range of services including military, justice, police and welfare. G4S manages four prisons, two immigration removal centers, accommodations for asylum seekers, and hundreds of court and police cells throughout the UK. However, a series of public fiascos between 2010 to 2018 have cost G4S some of its major contracts. These included the 2010-2012 investigation into the death of Jimmy Mubenga at the hands of G4S guards during his deportation, which resulted in the loss of deportation contracts. G4S has also been accused of improper management of a number of prisons, including issues with basic human rights, health care provision, suicide prevention, costing the company its contract for Wolds prison.
G4S failed to provide security during the 2012 Olympics and later, in 2013, reached a final settlement that compelled G4S to take a £50m loss on the contract. In 2013, it was exposed that G4S was overcharging the UK government for electronic tagging services, at times charging for dead prisoners or prisoners out of the country. In January 2016, the UK government took back management of a youth facility in Kent after staff members were accused of physical and emotional abuse against several teenagers. In 2017, a BBC program exposed poor staff behavior in G4S’s Brook House immigrant detention center, to which G4S responded by launching an independent investigation. In August 2018, the British government seized control of a G4S-managed prison in Birmingham after multiple deaths and drug incidents.
In South Africa, G4S has extensive business, including the ownership and operation of the second largest private prison in the world, Mangaung Correctional Centre, a maximum-security facility which accommodates 3,000. In 2013, after G4S dismissed 330 guards who went on strike, there was a series of inmate revolts and hostage-taking. Consequently, the South African government took over the facility from 2013 to 2014, stating that G4S had “effective[ly] lost control of the facility.”
During that time, a year-long investigation has uncovered violent practices by G4S security teams, including the use of electric shocks and forcible antipsychotic drug injections. In 2014, the government returned the prison to G4S management, but a continued public investigation has exposed a cover-up of several prisoner deaths following such torture and prompted a suit by 43 prisoners against the company for torture.
For more information on G4S in other countries, see our section on International Facility Management.
Electronic Monitoring and E-carceration
G4S claims to be the world’s largest provider of electronic monitoring services, including the devices used to track and confine individuals on parole and bail. G4S provides electronic monitoring equipment to justice departments in around 20 countries across the world, including the UK, France, Australia, and New Zealand. G4S offers monitoring technologies including RF tagging, voice verification, tracking, prison monitoring, alcohol and drug testing.
In the UK, G4S maintains about 20,000 people on probation or bail on its electronic monitoring.
In 2013, G4S was found to be overcharging the government for its electronic monitoring services, such as charging the government for dead prisoners or prisoners out of the country. The UK government still continues to work with G4S. In 2017, the Ministry of Justice awarded G4S a £25 million contract for electronic tagging of prisoners. According to the company’s 2017 annual report, its electronic monitoring contract is still under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
In Australia, G4S Care and Justice Electronic Monitoring provides government agencies with electronic monitoring technologies as “alternatives to incarceration.” It operates a 24-hour electronic monitoring center in Melbourne with specialist monitoring staff. For over 15 years, G4S has been the technology provider for the Electronic Monitoring System in South Australia. G4S’s GPS monitoring equipment is also used to track youth and adults on court-ordered restrictions.
In 2017, G4S announced a 4-year contract valued at €30 million with the French Ministry of Justice to provide electronic monitoring services and programming to one of the largest electronic monitoring programs in the world with more than 11,000 active monitors in use at any given time.
Later in 2017, G4S also announced a 4-year contract with El Salvador's Ministry of Justice to oversee the largest Electronic Monitoring program in Central America . Using Radio Frequency (RF) and GPS tracking, the program could potentially monitor up to 10,000 people.
In April 2012, G4S discontinued its Electronic Monitoring businesses in the United States citing profit loss and sub-scale.
Transportation of Immigrant Detainees and Deportations across the US Mexico Border
G4S Secure Solutions Inc. (formerly the Wackenhut Corporation) is the U.S. arm of the company. Its primary business in the US is providing private security to government buildings, nuclear facilities, banks, and special events. G4S also provides security systems and technology for prisons and private security corporations, such as alarm systems, key holding, and video cameras.
Since 2006, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has outsourced all transportation services to G4S. The company has a contract with CBP for $262.7 million (September 2013 until March 2019) for guarded transportation services of detainees from the US-Mexico border to detention facilities throughout the country, medical transport, including temporarily detention of detainees in transport or those awaiting processing, and the forced deportation of immigrants across the U.S.- Mexico border. An official promotional brochure by the company was titled “The Bus No One Wants to Catch – The End of the Road for Illegal Immigrants.”
Between 2010 and 2013, G4S Secure Solutions has spent $110,000 lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), focusing on issues relating to border security, “liability,” and service procurement by the Customs and Border Protection agency. In 2014, the company was made to sell its U.S. Government Solutions division, after charges of complicity in human rights violations in the Guantánamo Bay U.S. Naval Base.
Managing Juvenile Detention Centers until 2017
In March 2016, G4S announced that it would sell off off its U.K. Utility Services, U.K. Children Services, its U.S. Youth Justice Services, and its entire G4S Israel subsidiary within 12-24 months. In June, the company sold its UK children’s homes care business ‘homes2inspire’ to the Prospects Group, for £11.4 million. By December, Utility Services was sold, as well as G4S Israel, and in March 2017, G4S has sold off its U.S. Youth Services department to HSBC Holdings for $56.5 Million.
Prior to 2017, G4S managed 28 youth detention facilities in Tennessee, Texas, and Florida through G4S Youth Services LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary headquartered in Tampa, Florida. The company also managed juvenile detention programs, probation services, residential facilities, mental health and outpatient services, and maximum-risk correctional centers. G4S Youth Services’ made $5.1 million in profit in 2016. In April 2017, G4S sold G4S Youth Services (now TrueCore Behavioral Solutions) to BHSB Holdings, Inc. for $56.5 million. BHSB is a private company that provides youth behavioral health services and is based in Florida. The youth facilities had consistent reports of sexual abuse, use of excessive force, and recurring riots, leading to numerous lawsuits against G4S.
Prior to 2017, G4S operated 18 youth residential houses in the UK through its subsidiary, “Homes2Inspire,” which provided healthcare, support, education, specialist interventions, and therapy, in coordination with local authorities. In 2016, G4S had faced reports of abuse in G4S-operated youth jail facilities, including the physical and mental abuse against juveniles by staff members at one of the G4S-managed youth facilities in the UK.
Labor Rights Violations
G4S has been implicated in labor rights violations in several of its global sites. Official complaints under OECD guidelines from G4S sites in Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa, including testimonies of racial segregation and poverty wages, led to a G4S commitment to workers’ rights in 2008. Despite this, in the following years G4S was implicated in labour rights abuses in Uganda, South Korea, and South Africa.
The company offers security services to facilities, for example to platinum mines in South Africa, specifically to counter “Labor Unrest,” including riot control, undercover operations, intelligence gathering, and canine support.
G4S in Palestine/Israel
In 2016, following an international campaign, G4S sold its Israeli subsidiary, G4S Israel, to FIMI Opportunity Fund, an Israeli private equity firm. However, G4S still retains its stake in the Policity corporation, which built and now operates the new Israeli National Police Academy near the city of Beit Shemesh. In 2010, G4S and Shikun & Binui formed Policity to jointly bid on the contract to build and operate the Academy, which consolidated all of Israel's police training facilities. Israel plans to use the Academy in the future to train some of its other security forces, such as the Israeli Prison Service and Border Police. The National Police Academy opened in 2015, and Policity has a contract to expand it and operate it at least until 2035.
Past Involvement in the Israeli Occupation
The activities described below are of G4S Israel (formerly Hashmira), which was sold in 2016 for $110 Million to FIMI Opportunity Funds. The company is Israel was rebranded as G1 Group, and the activities described below, previously conducted by G4S Israel, can no longer be attributed to the UK-based multinational G4S corporation.Separation Wall and Military Checkpoints
G4S Israel has provided equipment for Israeli-run checkpoints and terminals in the West Bank and Gaza, including luggage scanning machines and full body scanners by Rapiscan and L-3's Safeview to the Erez checkpoint in Gaza and to the Qalandia, Bethlehem and Irtah (Sha’ar Efraim) checkpoints in the West Bank. These military checkpoints are part of the Israeli separation barrier which controls the movement of Palestinian civilian residents. This project is strictly illegal under international law according to a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice.
Prisons for Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel
G4S Israel installed and operates the entire security system of the Ketziot Prison, the central control room of the Megiddo Prison and security services to Damon prison. The Ketziot, Megido, and Damon Prisons, located inside Israel, are incarceration facilities designated specifically for Palestinian political prisoners. In addition, G4S Israel provides the entire security systems and the central control room in Hasharon compound - Rimonim prison, which includes a wing for Palestinian political prisoners.
G4S Israel clearly indicates in its website that it operates in prisons which hold "security prisoners", that is Palestinian political prisoners. Ketziot prison is the biggest incarceration facility in Israel with 2,200 Palestinian political prisoners, Megiddo prison holds over 1,200 Palestinian political and Damon prison over 500 Palestinian political prisoners from the occupied West Bank. Some of these prisoners have not been charged and some are administrative detainees, held without charge. As of April 2015, Israel was holding 414 Palestinians in administrative detention, more than double the number held at the same time on the previous year.
The company also provided security systems for the Kishon ("Al-Jalameh") and Jerusalem ("Russian Compound") detention and interrogation facilities. Human rights organizations have collected evidence showing that Palestinian prisoners are regularly subjected to torture in these facilities.
The placement of prisons for Palestinian prisoners inside Israel and the transfer of prisoners to the occupying power’s territory is a war crime according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Convention’s Article 76 states: “Protected persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein”. When Palestinian prisoners are moved to prisons in Israel, it becomes almost impossible for them to have family visits or meet with their lawyers. Prisoners with families on the Gaza Strip have not been able to have visits from family members since 2007. Reports show that Palestinian children are also being held in prisons in Israel, which is a violation of Article 37c of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children have the right to maintain contact with their family through letters and visits, except under special circumstances.
Israeli Military Prison and Court in the Occupied West Bank
The company installed peripheral defense systems on the walls surrounding the Ofer prison and operates a central control room for the entire Ofer military compound. Ofer is an Israeli prison for Palestinian political prisoners, located in the occupied West Bank, near the settlement of Givat Ze'ev. The prison holds about 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners and includes a military court which tries detainees from the West bank on a daily basis. The conviction rate for Palestinians in Israeli military courts is 99.74%.
As of June 2015, 93 children were reportedly held in Ofer military prison, The compound also hosts an Israeli military courtroom dedicated to trying Palestinian children. Between 2005-2010, 835 Palestinian minors were accused of stone-throwing in Israeli military courts. Only one was acquitted.
G4S Israel is the sole provider of electronic security systems to the Israeli police. It provided equipment to the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters, located in the highly contested E-1 area next to the Ma'ale Adumim settlement (the Judea and Samaria Police headquarters - “Machoz Shai”). This police force is tasked exclusively with servicing the Israeli settler population in the occupied West Bank.
Security Services in Illegal Israeli settlements
G4S Israel offers its security services to businesses in illegal settlements, including security equipment and personnel to shops and supermarkets in the Barkan settlement industrial zone, in the West Bank settlements of Modi’in Illit, Ma’ale Adumim, Har Adar, the settlement neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and the settlement of Kalia in the Jordan Valley.
G4S Israel also maintains cooperation with Ariel College in the illegal settlement city of Ariel in the occupied West Bank, which has included the company's participation in an open career day in the college.
The company’s own hired human rights expert, international law professor Hjalte Rasmussen, has stated that: “G4S has contracts with a number of major commercial interests, such as banks, supermarkets, and clothing chains, for the delivery of security guards for branches and stores of these customers as per the customers’ wishes. The branches and stores in question are mainly located in Israel, but G4S is also under contractual obligation to provide guards for the branches and stores that are on exception located east of the ’Green Line’, more specifically in East Jerusalem or on the West Bank”.
Outside Investigation and Company Statements
In October 2012, The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories has listed G4S as one of the main companies profiting from Israeli settlements and called on the UN General Assembly and civil society to take action against such businesses.
In March 2015, the British Government-sponsored National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD has published its findings of the British firm, stating that G4S is currently violating three human rights obligations under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, arising from its involvement in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians. It has found significant failures by G4S in its overarching obligations to ‘respect human rights’; as well as the obligation to ‘prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to its business operations’ in the region.
In April 2013, following public pressure, the company has stated it would not renew some of its contracts in the occupied West Bank as they come for renewal in 2015, including contracts to supply technologies to Israeli military checkpoints, to the Ofer prison and to the West Bank Israeli police headquarters.
In June 2014, following protests at its annual shareholders meeting, it has committed to stepping out of all Israeli prison contracts as they expire in the next 3 years. As of October 2015, no change in the company operations was registered on the ground.
Given the sale of G4S Israel to the FIMI Opportunity Fund, it is unclear what the status of these decisions are, but regardless, they no longer involve the UK-based multinational G4S corporation.
- On July 17, 2018, the Metro Nashville City Council voted to pass a resolution to not invest or contribute to any private company going forward. The resolution specifically named CoreCivic, a publicly traded company that operates private prisons in Tennessee and profits from the detention of immigrant detainees, but it also applies to other large private prison companies such as G4S and Geo Group.
- On June 8, 2017, New York City's pension funds divested $48 million from private prison companies, including G4S.
- On May 23, 2018, student government of the California State University- East Bay unanimously endorsed a divestment resolution calling to divest from corporations profiting from the occupation of Palestine. The companies listed include Motorola Solutions, G4S, Hewlett Packard, and Caterpillar.
- On May 23, 2018, the student senate at the University of Oregon passed a divestment resolution to divest from companies including the Strauss Group, the Osem Group, Hewlett-Packard Company, Ahava, General Electric, Eden Springs, Motorola, G4S, Elbit Systems. The resolution also prohibited the purchase of products from Sabra, Tribe, Sodastream, and the companies listed above.
- On June 8, 2017, New York City's pension funds divested $48 million from private prison companies, including G4S.
- On May 22, 2017, Sacramento Regional Transit will not renew a contract with G4S for security guard companies, replacing G4S with in-house security agents. The contract was worth $3 million. The decision was made after nearly two years of activism from human rights, civil rights, and Palestinian rights groups. The contract ended June 30.
- On April 9, 2017, Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate passed a resolution urging the university to divest from "corporations that profit off the occupation of Palestine and the continued spread of settlements declared illegal under international law," including G4S.
- On March 15, 2017, the De Anza College Associated Student Body (DASB) passed a resolution to "divest from companies that violate international human rights law" in Palestine, naming specifically G4S. This was the first community college to pass a divestment resolution related to human rights violations in Palestine. Students for Justice, the group that presented the resolution, told DASB that "by asking De Anza to divest, you are asking them to no longer take a side in this conflict."
- On July 22, 2016, the Berkeley City Council passed a unanimous resolution to direct the City Manager to consider creating a portfolio screen preventing any future investments in private prison corporations including GEO Group, CoreCivic, Inc., and G4S.
- In July 2016, the city of Denver, Colorado decided to drop its $2.5 million municipal contract with G4S over the "company's notorious oppressive practices."
- In April 2016, the Alliance of Baptists unanimously decided to divest from companies profiting off the occupation, including G4S.
- In April 2016, the UN Office for Project Services becomes the third UN agency in Jordan to drop contracts with G4S.
- On April 12, 2016, the University of Minnesota passed a resolution calling for socially responsible investment policies and divestment from global human rights violations.
- On April 2, 2016, the University of Indianapolis Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from "companies profiting from human rights violations in Palestine," including G4S.
- On March 22, 2016, Cornell University’s Herman F. Johnson Museum of Art terminated its contract with British security Firm, G4S. Black Students United at Cornell University campaigned for the termination because of G4S’ involvement in the private prison industry.
- March 25, 2016, The Unitarian Universalist Association and its endowment fund have implemented a human rights screen and divested from companies complicit in human rights violations, including G4S.
- On March 9, 2016, Palestinian activists led by Bassem al-Tamimi filed a $34.5 billion civil lawsuit in D.C. against individuals and companies that have been "funding violent settlement activities in occupied Palestine." The lawsuit names several defendants, including G4S, RE/MAX, Africa Israel Investments, Motorola, Volvo, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Oracle Corp., and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
- On March 6, 2016, the Vassar Student Association voted to support the international BDS movement and to divest from companies profiting from Israeli human rights abuses, including G4S.
- On March 1, 2016, the University College London Union voted to support the BDS campaign, stating that the student union will “not have any commercial or investment relationship with companies that participate in Israeli violations of international law, including G4S, Veolia, HP and military companies that supply Israel such as BAE Systems and Raytheon.”
- In March 2016, the United Nations Children's Fund in Jordan decided to terminate its contract with G4S over growing pressure from organizers concerned with G4S involvement in occupation.
- The Undergraduate Student Government Assembly at the University of Illinois-Chicago unanimously voted on February 16, 2016, to pass a resolution to divest from corporations profiting off the Israeli occupation and other human rights violations, including G4S.
- On February 10, 2016, California State University, Los Angeles administrators have agreed to divest from private prison companies after pressure from CSULA Black Student Union.
- On January 19, 2016, a landslide vote by the University of South Florida student senate passed a joint resolution to divest from corporations who profit from "illegal and brutal occupation" in Palestine, including G4S. The resolution was later vetoed by the student government president.
- In December 2015, the California Endowment divested its holdings from "companies that derive significant annual revenue from private prison services," including G4S.
- In November 2015, the student government at San Jose State University voted to divest from "companies that play an active role in the human rights violations committed by the Israeli Government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories" including G4S.
- In the UK, the Labour Party officially instituted a boycott G4S as of November 21st, 2015, citing the company's role in violating Palestinian human rights.
- In October 2015 the Human Rights Council of the city of Portland, Oregon demanded that the City Socially Responsible Investments Committee place G4S on the city's "Do Not Buy" list due to its complicity in "serious human rights violations in the ongoing illegal and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land."
- On June 30, 2015, the United Church of Christ voted in favor of "divestment and boycott of companies that are complicit in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza" including G4S.
- In June 2015, Columbia University officially divested from G4S as part of a new policy prohibiting investment in the private prison industry and based on G4S's business both in the United States and Palestine/Israel.
- In May 2015, the Oglethorpe University Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from G4S “based on evidence of their active role in human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
- In May 2015, the University of Helsinki announced that it was dropping its security contract with G4S in response to a campaign initiated by concerned students and faculty objecting to the company's role in the Israeli prison.
- In February 2015, the student union at the University of Kent in the southeast of England voted to terminate its contract with G4S following an “outcry” over its role in human rights abuses in Palestine, South Africa, the UK and other countries.
- Stanford University students passed a resolution in February 2015, urging divestment from G4S, among other “companies implicated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, many of which facilitate parallel injury against communities of color here in the United States.”
- Northwestern University students voted to divest from G4S in February 2015, citing its involvement in “interrogation and detention centers where Palestinians are regularly subjected to torture.”
- In January 2015, the student union at University College London voted unanimously to drop its contract with G4S in response to its "atrocious" human rights record in Israel/Palestine and US prisons.
- In January 2015, the UC Davis student senate passed a divestment resolution urging the university to drop investments in G4S because it “provides resources furthering human rights violations and systematic discrimination.” The bill was later repealed based on a constitutional technicality.
- In November 2014 the municipality of Durham, North Carolina dropped a municipal private policing contract with G4S after a successful community campaign by the Durham Drop G4S coalition for non-renewal.
- Loyola University in Chicago passed a 2014 divestment resolution against G4S because it “play[s] active roles in the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government.”
- In May 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it had divested enough shares in G4S to no longer meet the 3% ownership threshold required for reporting. The move came after a year-long activist campaign highlighting G4S's role in the Israeli prison system and mass incarceration.
- In 2014, the University of New Mexico’s Graduate and Professional Student Association voted to divest from G4S, citing its “security equipment for Israeli prisons that hold Palestinian political prisoners and for Israeli military checkpoints.”
- In 2014, Britain’s National Union of Students voted to call on its members to boycott G4S because it is “complicit in financing and aiding Israel’s military.”
- The Black Students' Conference (of Britain’s National Union of Students) in 2014 resolved to “lobby Institutions and Unions to divest from key BDS target companies, including G4S” due to Israel’s “multitude of human rights and international law violations.”
- The Dutch Green Party discontinued using G4S for its national office’s security in 2014, citing its “activities in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.”
- The United Methodist Church voted to divest its pension fund from G4S in 2014, citing “concerns about the company's involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories. ”
- In 2014, the student union at Britain's Kent University voted to divest from G4S because of its "human rights abuses in Palestine."
- The Oberlin College student senate voted to divest from G4S in May 2013 due to its “injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people by Israel.”
- Dundee University (Scotland) students voted to end outstanding G4S contracts in 2013, citing its “services and equipment for the Israeli security institutions and buildings operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
- The University of Oslo ended its G4S security contract in 2013.
- Dutch labor union Abvakabo terminated its contract with G4S in 2013, citing "its role in Israel’s violations of international law.”
- In November 2013, King’s College London and Southampton University chose not to award G4S major security contracts following vigorous student campaigns.
- In November 2013, the University of Bergen in Norway decided not to renew G4S as its security contractor due to the firm’s role in the Israeli prison system and illegal Israeli settlements.
- In October 2013, Industri Energi, a trade union for workers in the energy and heavy industry sectors in Norway, canceled its contract with G4S over its role in Israeli prisons.
- In August 2012, British firm Good Energy announced that it would end its business relationship with G4S because of the company's human rights record in both Israel/Palestine and in UK prisons
- In April 2012, G4S lost its contract with the European Parliament after a year-long campaign by a group of 28 Members of the European Parliament in conjunction with activists calling attention to the company's worldwide abuse of human rights.
- In November 2010, the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Denmark ended its contract with G4S. Pat Nissen of RCT’s explained that “G4S as a company is helping to facilitate torture.”