One (via the Guardian):
The depth of the crisis over G4S‘s Olympic security preparations became increasingly clear on Thursday as recruits revealed details of a “totally chaotic” selection process and police joined the military in bracing themselves to fill the void left by the private security contractor.
Guards told how, with 14 days to go until the Olympics opening ceremony, they had received no schedules, uniforms or training on x-ray machines. Others said they had been allocated to venues hundreds of miles from where they lived, been sent rotas intended for other employees, and offered shifts after they had failed G4S’s own vetting.
The West Midlands Police Federation reported that its officers were being prepared to guard the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, which will host the football tournament, amid concerns G4S would not be able to cover the security requirements.
“We have to find officers until the army arrives and we don’t know where we are going to find them from,” said Chris Jones, secretary of the federation.
G4S has got a £284m contract to provide 13,700 guards, but only has 4,000 in place. It says a further 9,000 are in the pipeline.
G4S sent an urgent request on Thursday to retired police asking them to help. A memo to the National Association of Retired Police Officers said: “G4S Policing Solutions are currently and urgently recruiting for extra support for the Olympics. These are immediate starts with this Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday available. We require ex-police officers ideally with some level of security clearance and with a Security Industry Association [accreditation], however neither is compulsory.”
Robert Brown, a former police sergeant, told the Guardian that he pulled out of the recruitment process for the Games after seeing it close at hand.
He said: “They were trying to process hundreds of people and we had to fill out endless forms. It was totally chaotic and it was obvious to me that this was being done too quickly and too late.”
Another G4S trainee, an ex-policeman, described the process as “an utter farce”.
He added: “There were people who couldn’t spell their own name. The staff were having to help them. Most people hadn’t filled in their application forms correctly. Some didn’t know what references were and others said they didn’t have anyone who could act as a referee. The G4S people were having to prompt them, saying things like “what about your uncle?”
Two (via Common Dreams):
The United Nations is increasingly hiring private military contractors for protecting its staff and operations, threat assessments, and a wide array of security services.
According to a new report by the independent policy watchdog Global Policy Forum, the increased used of mercenary-style groups by the world body is both troubling and dangerous. Citing various reports from governments, NGOs and media outlets, the GPF says such firms have a history of committing serious human rights abuses, killing or injuring innocent civilians, engaging in financial malfeasance and other breaches of national and international laws.
Between 2009 and 2010 alone, the US increased its use of private security services by 73 percent (from 44 million to 76 million dollars), according to the report.
“When you look at 2006 to 2011, use of PMSCs in field missions have increased by 250 percent,” Lou Pingeot, program coordinator at GPF and lead author of the report, told Inter Press Service in an interview.
“In the absence of guidelines and clear responsibility for security outsourcing,” says the report, “the UN has hired companies well-known for their misconduct, violence and financial irregularities – and hired them repeatedly.”
Three (via Huffington Post):
For many years now, private military and security contractor (PMSC) advocates have argued that utilization of PMSC in United Nations peace operations offers an alternative to doing nothing or trying to organize a frequently dysfunctional U.N.-sponsored, often ill-equipped and organized intervention.
Indeed, about ten years ago, Doug Brooks, head of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), a PMSC advocacy group, wrote in a paper that:
“PMCs offer the only military forces both willing and capable to provide rapid and effective military services in most Third World conflicts. PMC operations in the past have saved tens of thousands of lives, but their potential is even greater. Working as “force multipliers” PMCs can provide the competent military backbone to ensure the success of UN or regional multinational peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations.”As sweeping generalizations go that, to use my childhood Yiddish, takes a lot of chutzpah.
Don’t get me wrong. While I’m the first to agree that U.N. operations often leave a lot to be desired, a U.N. blue helmet peace operation can only be as successful as members of the Security Council want it to be. Given the often radically differing agendas and interests of Council members that doesn’t happen very often.
And to be objective about it, the United Nation already employs large number of private contractors for all sorts of humanitarian purposes and has greatly increased its use of these companies in recent years. But does the record to date with regard to PMSC use by the U.N. encourage even greater use of and dependence on PMSC?