An open approach to addressing human rights complaints
On 30 December 2015, G4S Children’s Services (UK) referred a number of serious allegations of inappropriate staff conduct at the Medway Secure Training Centre to Medway’s Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for safeguarding children, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The allegations centred on the unnecessary use of force and the use of improper language.
The LADO, in conjunction with the police and other relevant authorities, commenced an independent investigation into the allegations.
The G4S regional president for UK & Ireland convened a G4S Response Programme Board to oversee immediate changes to processes and procedures at Medway and to work with the various external agencies appointed to review the issues raised in relation to the conduct of G4S staff. At the time of publication, this programme is ongoing.
As a result of these allegations, seven staff were immediately suspended and five of those employees have now had their employment terminated. A new centre director (a qualified social worker with extensive experience of working with vulnerable people) was appointed.
Inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) have visited Medway STC and have spoken directly with children residing in the centre. The Children’s Commissioner’s teams have visited all three Secure Training Centres (STCs) managed by G4S.
We have reinforced the standards expected of all employees, reminded them of the group’s whistleblowing facility Speak Out, implemented a series of improved processes around rotation of staff and accelerated the process to implement body-worn cameras for our employees in STCs. Refresher training for all staff on Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR) has been conducted.
The MoJ has appointed an Independent Improvement Board to review the issues raised at Medway – G4S management and staff are giving them their full support. This review is expected to be completed by the end of March 2016 and the findings are not available at the time of this report being published. The MoJ is also undertaking a review of internal and external reporting. The police and LADO investigation continues.
This matter was discussed in detail by the CSR Committee and the board, who made enquiries about the root causes of these incidents, as well as the appropriateness and completeness of the remedial action plan, and considered how the learnings from this event could drive an improvement of the control environment across the organisation.
The board was satisfied that, pending the outcome of the police investigation and the conclusions reached by the Independent Improvement Board, appropriate remedial action has been taken to strengthen the control environment, prevent the re-occurrence of such events and ensure that the group’s values are adhered to and their importance reiterated across the organisation.
The wellbeing and education of young people in our care has remained our key priority whilst the various reviews and investigations are underway.
The group has a business unit based in Israel, which provides manned security and security systems for businesses and other organisations across the country. This business has been criticised by pressure groups for its contracts to service security systems used in prisons in Israel and for servicing scanning equipment located on the barrier between Israel and the West Bank.
There have been a number of independent reviews of the business in Israel, the latest of which was commissioned in 2014. That review concluded that the company has no causal or contributory role in human rights violations.
At the group’s annual general meeting in June 2015, the chairman reconfirmed decisions made previously by the company in relation to specific contracts: that they would not be renewed when they expire.
In the UK, we engaged with the UK NCP for the OECD over a period of 18 months in relation to a complaint made about G4S in Israel.
After an extensive assessment, during which it received submissions from G4S, interviewed representatives of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, examined evidence from NGOs and reviewed material provided by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, the NCP published its Final Statement in June 2015.
In its Initial Assessment published in June 2014 the NCP concluded that there is no evidence that any G4S equipment or services cause or contribute to adverse human rights impacts and that the company carries out extensive due diligence and ongoing review of the potential human rights risks of its business.
In its Final Statement, the NCP states:
The UK NCP does not find any general failure by the company to respect the human rights of the people on whose behalf the complaint is made or any failure to respect human rights in regard to its own operations. The UK NCP considers that there is evidence that G4S has leverage, and could take action such as: lobbying immediate business partners and/or government and legal representatives, sharing best practice (with business partners, stakeholders and the wider sector), and committing to new practices in regard to future contracts.
The NCP made three recommendations in regard to demonstrating that the company is addressing the human rights impacts of its business relationships:
Work with business partners to address the adverse impacts raised in the complaints
Across our countries of operation we engage with customers, business partners and other stakeholders on a variety of matters. Our business in Israel is no different and undertakes constant dialogue with its key stakeholder groups.
Communicate to stakeholders the actions it has taken in regard to the issues raised in the complaint
We always aim to be as open as we can about factors that affect our business, but we are often subject to the confidentiality requirements of our customers. In its Final Statement, the NCP identifies that G4S is bound by the confidentiality requirements of its customers and that this ‘may unduly limit the company’s ability to act effectively if it cannot communicate openly about its actions with stakeholders and business partners.’ This assessment is accurate in relation to the contracts and business units which have been under review during the NCP process and therefore we are unable to provide specific detail regarding the actions of our businesses other than that which have been disclosed during the NCP’s review.
Implement a contract approvals process that includes an assessment of human rights risks and mitigations
We have implemented a human rights policy across the business and embedded human rights into our group risk and mitigations assessments, details of which can be found on pages 27 and 28 of this CSR Report.
Our announcement of the agreement on the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds (FIMI) in December 2016 can be found here.
A complaint to the UK NCP was made in relation to a G4S business in the USA, which related to a contract won by G4S Government Solutions Inc. to provide facilities services at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.
A process to divest the business was announced long before the contract was bid for and won, due to the fact that as a non-US parent we were unable to influence or control the operations of the US subsidiary which was employed by the US Government on confidential contracts. No services were provided at the site while the business was in G4S ownership.
The UK NCP decided to reject the complaint on the grounds that it did not serve the purpose and effectiveness of the Guidelines for it to be considered further by the UK NCP.
papua new guinea
In February 2014, an incident took place at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (an immigration centre for housing of unauthorised asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia by sea) in Papua New Guinea, during which a transferee was tragically killed and a number of other transferees and members of staff were injured.
Following the incident, the Australian Government, responsible for the offshore processing of transferees in the region, commissioned two reviews. G4S engaged fully with both reviews.
The findings of the first review, conducted by Robert Cornall.
Materials relating to the second review, conducted by the Australian Senate Committee for Constitutional and Legal Affairs. These include submissions made and evidence given to the committee by G4S and the findings of the review.
In June 2015, the Australian NCP for the OECD published a statement conveying its decision not to accept for investigation a complaint made in relation to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
We continue to support the authorities in Papua New Guinea in their local investigation into the incident at the centre.
In March 2016, G4S announced that as part of its on-going review of its portfolio of businesses, it had commenced a process to sell four additional businesses to those which had previously been identified by the group for sale. These included G4S Israel and G4S Children’s Services (UK).
Occasionally other issues of this nature are raised in connection with the activities of our businesses. Whilst our goal is always to be open and transparent about such matters, sometimes contractual relationships with our customers and/or restrictions imposed by law, regulation or a court may prohibit us from commenting on them publicly.