Security firm G4S to exit children's services

Jess Brown
Friday, February 26, 2016

Private security company G4S has announced it will sell its children's services business.

The move, confirmed in a statement posted on the G4S website, will see the sale of 13 children’s homes run by the company as well as the contracts to manage and run Medway and Oakhill secure training centres (STC).

The G4S statement on the sale said: "G4S has commenced a process to sell its UK children’s services business. G4S UK Children’s Services had revenues of approximately £40 million in the year to December 2015. The transfer or sale of certain businesses is subject to customary consents and approvals.

"The wellbeing and education of the children in our care will remain our priority until such time as an orderly transition to a new operator has been completed."

The company's decision to exit the children's services market comes just weeks after allegations of abuse by staff at Medway STC in Kent surfaced following a BBC Panorama investigation.

As a result of the allegations in the programme, four G4S staff were sacked. Police have also made arrests over the allegations, while the Youth Justice Board has launched an investigation into the firm’s safety standards.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said he welcomed the news that management at Medway and Oakhill will be taken over, and hopes it provides the opportunity to close the centres down.

“These child jails have been the focus of much controversy, not least the recent Panorama documentary into abuse by staff at Medway.

??“There is now an opportunity developing to close the secure training centres down completely," Neilson said.

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

Rainsbrook STC, also run by G4S, is currently in the process of being transferred to a new provider. This was triggered by the mistreatment and racist abuse of young people by prison officers last year.

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