New claims about G4S prompt calls for inquiry
Allegations pile further pressure on security firm
New and damaging allegations against G4S staff – ranging from a rape accusation to claims of theft, drug-taking and a major security breach – emerged yesterday, prompting renewed calls for a full investigation into the company's performance.
The demand comes weeks after thousands of soldiers were deployed after the company confessed it could not recruit 10,400 security staff for the Olympic Games.
The Home Affairs Select Committee is to investigate the new claims as it resumes its inquiry into G4S this week. Its chairman, Keith Vaz, told The Independent on Sunday: "I'm very concerned about these allegations and we do need to make sure that they are properly examined. It is in G4S's interest to make sure it happens."
One of the recent scandals to hit the company involves the alleged rape of an 18-year-old G4S worker by an older colleague. It was reported to police 10 days ago and a man was arrested. He is on bail pending further inquiries.
This is the latest in a series of arrests of G4S workers over the past few months, "for things like theft and other dishonesty-type offences, which is obviously a concern", according to a police inspector seconded to an Olympic security role.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, he said: "There have been instances of uniforms missing, stolen out of vans. Members of staff have just disappeared off the radar; they can't be found. So there have been obviously concerns about people in the G4S uniform and with passes … because there is a significant number of people out there who might not be bona fide."
A G4S spokesman confirmed that "there have been some arrests" and that uniforms and passes had gone missing, but added: "Even if someone is in, say, a stolen uniform and even if they've got a pass, that won't get them into any venues, so it doesn't pose a security threat."
At one Olympic venue, Hadleigh Farm in Essex, it is alleged G4S failed a security test earlier this year when, according to a source within the company's security operation, a fake bomb and firearm were smuggled in. G4S strongly denies this. "There has been no incident involving a test of security at Hadleigh Farm, Essex, with a firearm getting past G4S security," said a spokesman, and there has been "no occasion" where a fake bomb has "evaded G4S scrutiny".
The company describes Hadleigh Farm as a venue "where security procedures have run particularly smoothly", yet less than a week before the Olympics began a local reporter managed to get past security and on to the site because large parts of the perimeter were unguarded.
Claims have emerged about Lord's cricket ground, with G4S staff alleged to have been discovered spitting in the tea of soldiers based there and stealing food and even a police uniform. G4S maintains that none of these particular allegations is true.
Two G4S workers were given a warning when caught smoking cannabis at Lord's on 31 July, according to a source close to police there. The Metropolitan Police was unable to confirm or deny the allegation. G4S claims: "There is no record of cannabis use at Lord's by G4S staff."
Senior policing figures will give evidence to the select committee on Tuesday, with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, appearing two days later. The main focus remains on Nick Buckles, the company's chief executive, who will appear before the committee next week. He is expected to argue that the Olympic contract is unique and does not represent the wider work of G4S.
G4S said: "We take any allegations made against our staff very seriously and will carry out full investigations as soon as these are brought to our attention."
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