G4S Security To Sell Controversial ‘Child Prison’ Contracts

G4S Security To Sell Controversial ‘Child Prison’ Contracts

The private security firm G4S is to sell its UK children’s services business, including contracts for two youth detention centres just weeks after an undercover report revealed damning footage of its staff using excessive force on children.

The contracts to be sold include the management of Medway secure training centre in Kent, where five men were arrested in January after a BBC Panorama investigation exposed the alleged abuse of “trainees”.

RT reports:

There had been calls for the Medway centre for young offenders to be shut down indefinitely after allegations of physical abuse and falsified incident reports emerged. Instead, G4S plans to sell the contracts for management of the centers.

In a statement, the management of G4S confirmed they are reviewing the company’s portfolio and plan to sell its UK Children’s Services business, including 13 children’s homes and two Secure Training Centres at Medway and Oakhill.

The company made approximately £40 million last year providing services to these homes.

The move comes six weeks after a BBC Panorama exposé led to allegations of abuse and bullying by custodial officers at Medway STC in Kent. Using secret cameras, an undercover journalist showed inmates, referred to as ‘trainees’, falling victim to excessive use of force.

The program’s broadcast in January led to five G4S staff being arrested and four employees losing their jobs.

At one point in the program, a staff member appears to choke a 14-year-old inmate with mental health issues, before the youth is dragged to the ground by a group of custody officers. Another staff member was filmed boasting about punching an inmate, leaving him “nearly in tears”.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns for Howard League for Penal Reform, says the handing over of control is an opportunity to close the centers.

“We welcome this news from G4S… These child jails have been the focus of much controversy, not least the recent BBC Panorama documentary abuse by staff at Medway.

“These centres are a failed model and this wise withdrawal from the market by G4S should not be followed up [by] new private security companies coming in to replace them, with a dubious track records abroad in the treatment of people in custody,” he said in a statement.