Global Policy Forum

PMSCs in Europe & North America

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20132012 | 2011


Greece: "A Promise from the Army has been Obtained to not Intervene Against a Civil Uprising" (February 24, 2013)

A former Greek diplomat is warning that the social unrest in his country could worsen as European administered austerity measures continue to take their toll. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos points to recent instances of political violence, as well as pending tax bills that many people will struggle to pay, as the source of his concern. There is growing skepticism within Europe regarding the sustainability of austerity measures that Greece has endured for years. The Belgian Prime Minister has argued that European authorities should continue the austerity measures for six more months, and change course if no improvements are noticed. Interestingly, Chrysanthopoulos claims that the Greek government has purchased the services of private security firms because they are uncomfortable relying on police services that will also be impacted by austerity. One security firm, Academi, denies these claims. (New Statesmen)

Closing Europe's Borders Becomes Big Business (January 9, 2013)

The EU plans to increase monitoring and restrictions of migration to and from its member states. EUROSUR and “SmartBorders” are the two primary elements of this recent migration control initiative. Observers have raised concerns that the massive expenditures on these new initiatives are inappropriate at a time when member states are dealing with the social consequences of austerity measures. Private security companies, however, stand to benefit from the adoption of these new policies. Ska Keller, a member of the European parliament, argues that it is “shameful that those who profit most from EUROSUR and ‘smart borders’ are the big European defense contractors.” It remains unclear exactly how costly these measures will be, but critics argue that they will benefit corporate interests at migrants’ expense. (IPS)


G4S Loses Contract. Handing Prisons to Any Commercial Contractor is a Grave Mistake (November 8, 2012)

While media outlets generally focus on the international dimension of PMSCs involved in Iraq or Somalia, one should bear in mind that Western countries increasingly employ such private firms domestically. Yet, major risks emerge when states try to combine security functions that used to be exclusively public with a profit-oriented business strategy. In the UK, the privatization of the prison system has created intense controversy. After being directly involved in the London Olympics security fiasco, the Private Security Company G4S has lost its major contract to administer the prison of Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. Ultimately, the privatization of prisons represents a threat to democracy itself as “commercial confidentiality shields the process from public view and democratic accountability.” (Open Democracy)

Profit and Security at the London Olympics (July 17, 2012)

G4S, the largest private security company in the world, fell short of providing an adequate number of security personnel for the London Olympics. The British Armed Forces are to fill in the void created by G4S. G4S’ failure to recruit sheds light on their underlying profit motive. G4S is doing less to pocket more, with little accountability. The privatization of security is in effect contributing to a ‘de-development’ of traditional government services. (Al Jazeera)

Militarizing the Olympics(July 13,2012)

In an attempt to tighten security before the Olympics, London has deployed five hundred FBI employees and over a thousand US officials. The security coordinator of this mission is (of course) G4S, a private security company infamous for human rights violations. Weapons and heavily armed security are being placed across the city to preempt attacks. Drones and surface-to-air missiles will also be used under the guise of ‘protection’. This wave of military mania is likely to attract attacks rather than prevent them. The militarization of the Olympics has prompted the author of this article to call the UK a “security state demonstrating pathological tendencies.” (Counterpunch)

How G4S is 'Securing your World' (June 20,2012)

G4S’s global outreach is expanding at a fast pace. In the UK, which remains G4S’s largest market, the company is increasingly moving into what was once the public sector. Public services like policing, running immigration detention centers and providing security at schools and hospitals are now being performed by often inadequately trained G4S personnel. Operating in more than one hundred and twenty five countries, G4S can even be considered a “shadow state”. Critics have raised concerns about the absolute lack of transparency, improper public scrutiny and public outcry around the company’s activities. (Guardian)

Protest is Coming to the London Olympics (May 21, 2012)

This Nation article describes the International Olympics Committee (IOC) as the 1% of the 1%, and refers to the 2012 Olympics as a corporate cornucopia. In the London Olympics, the UK plans to mobilize thousands of troops and private security forces, install surveillance cameras, and fund surveillance drones. These efforts prioritize the interests of corporate sponsors, including McDonalds, British Petroleum, and Dow Chemical.  On July 28, 2012, Londoners plan to gather and protest against the corporate atmosphere surrounding the upcoming Olympic games. (The Nation)

“Drones, Missiles, and Gunships, Oh My!” Welcome to the 2012 London Olympics (May 14, 2012)

There will be as many as 48,000 security forces in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics. These forces will be armed with surface-to-air missiles, sonic weapons, surveillance drones, attack dogs, an eleven-mile electric fence, facial-recognition CCTV systems, and other high-tech security apparatuses. It is the UK’s biggest mobilization of military forces since World War II. The author of this article argues that the whole ordeal is not as much about athletes competing within a community of nations, as it is a “neoliberal Trojan Horse” aimed to attract investments at the expense of basic civil liberties. (The Nation)

Guantanamo Bay Contractor on Shortlist to Run UK Police Services (May 3, 2012)

Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a US private contractor that helped build Guantanamo Bay prisons, is bidding for a 1.5 billion pound contract to run policing services in Surrey and the West Midlands in the UK. There has been little public awareness about this contract, and critics are worried about the lack of public consultation in the matter. A KBR spokesperson claimed that KBR would bring “operational efficiencies” to “back office” police tasks. But critics who have analyzed the potential contract argue that the contract privatizes some core elements of policing, which distances police from the public citizens they are supposed to serve.  (Guardian)

Security Firms Look to Cash in on RNC (April 29, 2012)

Private security companies are selling their services to downtown businesses in preparation for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The city expects 50,000 visitors, and police expect 15,000 protestors. Guards will be armed, and are meant to protect businesses against protestors if “mayhem” ensues. Private military companies working in the area argue that protests can be like hurricanes, and both require insurance for those exposed. But fueling a private security machine that advertises fear is not the best way to deal with protestors. (Tampa Bay Times)

Locking Down an American Workforce (April 19, 2012)

Cash-starved state governments are laying off public workers and selling off public assets, including correctional facilities (with prisoners inside) while private security companies, like Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) and G4S are profiting immensely from them. CCA and G4S privatize public prisons, then lease inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM. This TomDispatch article argues that US penal institutions have acted as “auxiliary arms” of industry, providing subsidies, tax incentives, and facilities for corporations to exploit right-less workers. (TomDispatch)

Mobilising Outrage: Campaigning with Asylum Seekers against Security Industry Giant, G4S (April 12, 2012)

G4S is a private military and security company (PMSC) that employs senior politicians and diplomats to lobby for contracts with the UK government. The UK outsources 1 billion dollars a year to G4S for work in the public sphere, such as guarding prisons, escorting refugees, and general policing. G4S’ most recent partnership with the UK Border Agency to manage asylum-seeker housing has been met with public outrage. Demonstrations and marches in Sheffield drew attention to G4S’ abuses, including charges of corporate manslaughter. Why is the UK spending taxpayer money to fund PMSCs with questionable human rights records? (openDemocracy)

Britain as a Private Security State: First They Came for the Asylum Seeker…(March 9, 2012)

This article on openDemocracy criticizes the United Kingdom’s increasing use of privatized security. The business is worth £3.97 billion annually, and it has become a powerful lobby for privatizing state functions across Europe. In addition to expanding private prisons, UK has contracted private security companies to expand private police functions and take over asylum-seeker housing. But research shows that private prisons, detention centers, and asylum market services are not cheaper than public ones. Activists have also raised concerns about the state’s racist policy towards immigrants and asylum seekers, a problem that private guards will only exacerbate. (openDemocracy)

G4S Turns a Profit in “Asylym Markets”: Who’s Speaking Out and Whose Lips are Sealed? (February 28, 2012)

Local activists in South Yorkshire petitioned their city council against G4S takeover of asylum-seeker housing. G4S is a private security company, and it is the world’s second-largest private sector employer, behind Walmart. In 2010, there were 773 complaints and 48 claims of assault against G4S related to its work in housing and immigration. The UK Border Agency, which has had a difficult time sorting out “illegal immigrants” from asylum seekers, contracted G4S to manage asylum housing in northeast United Kingdom.  Asylum seekers who were familiar with G4S prison security guards compared the privatization of humanitarian housing to the creation of more detention facilities. (OpenDemocracy)

Unsilent Witness (January 29, 2012)

Kathryn Bolkovac was hired by DynCorps, a private military company, for contract work in Bosnia with the UN. There, she exposed a sex trafficking scandal involving her colleagues and the sexual abuse of teenage Bosnian girls. Bolkavac discovered that her colleagues not only slept with the girls but were also on the traffickers’ payrolls. They informed trafickers for when UN raids would occur and for the whereabouts of escaped girls. DynCorps fired Bolkavac for pressing the issue while the sex offenders went unprosecuted. Her story was made into a movie, The Whistleblower (2011). In Balkovac’s interview with The Sunday Telegraph, she shares her experience and encourages further prosecution of the perpetrators. (Telegraph)


Declaring War on the Military Contractors' Invasion of Washington (September 13, 2011)

Private military and security companies (PMSC’s) employed by Washington are negatively impacting the US economy. The war industry, which lobbies for ever-increasing military spending, warns that cuts in funding will sacrifice jobs. Yet this article argues that the use of PMSC’s, by the government, is actually harming job creation. The authors calculate that up to 11,700 jobs are lost for every $1billion spent on PMSC contracts. (Guardian)

$230,000 For a Guard Dog: Why the Wealthy Are Afraid Of Violence From Below (July 29, 2011)

The use of Private Military and Security Companies in failed states and conflict regions (such as Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan) has been widely reported. But the use of private security personnel in order to protect private wealth is also increasing in the US. Personnel have been used to protect second homes and yachts, for example. The author of this article contends that inequality is a recipe for insecurity, creating incentives for the wealthy to purchase private security services. Data from the US Department of Commerce and Internal Revenue Service indicate that income inequality has been increasing in the US since the 1970s, whereas it had been declining during the mid 20th century. In 2006, the US had one of the highest levels of income inequality. (AlterNet)


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