G4S, the colossal British private security firm with half a million muscular hands for hire around the globe and this seemingly entirely unironic theme-tune, are to provide over 10,000 security guards for the London Olympics. I wrote a little bit about the company and the implications of what they do for this week’s column at The Independent:
“What difference does it make if the men and women in uniform patrolling the world’s streets and prison corridors are employed by nation states or private firms? It makes every difference. A for-profit company is not subject to the same processes of accountability and investigation as an army or police force which is meant, at least in theory, to serve the public. Impartial legality is still worth something as an assumed role of the state – and the notion of a private, for-profit police and security force poisons the very idea.
The state still has a legal monopoly on violence, but it is now prepared to auction that monopoly to anyone with a turnover of billions and a jolly branding strategy. The colossal surveillance and security operation turning London into a temporary fortress this summer is chilling enough without the knowledge that state powers are being outsourced to a company whose theme tune features the line: “The enemy prowls, wanting to attack, but we’re on to the wall, we’ve got your back.”….” More at The Independent
A note on praxis: this piece was commissioned after an original research-backed pitch at what, in New York City, was 1.30am, for a 5am hand-in, following a full day’s work. I leapt at the chance to cover this topic even though I was godawfully tired. There’s a lot more to look at as far as G4S is concerned - I hope this offers a useful jumping-off point for some more digging…