Group 4 in line to look after top secret files

TOP SECRET Government files, many of them classified, are to be guarded by private security firms. Rentokil, Securicor and Group 4 will be invited to tender for contracts as ministers attempt to make keeping secrets cheaper.

All Government departments, including the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, have been told to "market test" security arrangements.

Private companies will also be asked to bid to make and install alarm systems and detection equipment - a role previously carried out by secretive Government security advisers.

Group 4 and the security division of Rentokil, the pest control firm, say that they would be interested in pursuing the Government guarding contracts.

Securicor, the other leading security guard company which also runs private prisons, is likely to be a leading contender for the Government work too.

But the prospect of private security guards protecting ministers' offices has alarmed some MPs, who fear that hiring unlicensed personnel could leave a dent in the Government's security cordon. "I have general concerns about private sector guarding in that I think it is a wholly unregulated industry," said Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman. "Government departments should not hire private security staff without carrying out thorough security checks."

The prestigious Whitehall security corps, many of whom are ex-servicemen and women, vet all visitors to buildings and make sure they are not carrying guns or explosives or do not wander unauthorised around the buildings.

Sensitive documents relating to the defence of Britain and market-sensitive trade decisions are kept in the Whitehall vaults. It is also where ministers work through their red boxes and take advice from civil servants.

"In the past, the guards have been hired through an agency of the Cabinet Office, but now if a Government department hires security employees they are market tested. They will look at value for money," said a Cabinet Office spokesman.

Only bomb protection advice, and the development of specialist security equipment, will remain wholly in Government hands.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Registered Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This local charity has an oppor...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Content Curator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a mobile television network wi...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash