Guantanamo Bay deal helps good times return for security firm G4S

By Alex Stevenson

Controversial security services firm G4S has been awarded a $118 million contract to service the US' Guantanamo Bay prison.

The terror suspect detention facility, which holds 149 prisoners who have not been charged with any offence, will provide 'base support operating services', the department of defense (DoD) announced yesterday.

Its acceptance of the contract could prompt criticism in Britain, as the British government continues to outsource work to it despite G4S' eyebrow-raising record in recent years.

The company faces an ongoing investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over its involvement in last year's criminal tagging scandal, in which it and rival firm Serco admitted charging taxpayers for electronically tagging individuals who were either in prison or dead.

The 'over-billing' resulted in ministers temporarily banning it from bidding for government contracts – but this suspension was lifted in April when a £109 million payment ended the affair.

G4S was also criticised after ministers had to draft in the Army to reinforce G4S' security for the 2012 Olympics.

But after registering a loss of £94 million last year, today it announced pre-tax profits of £85 million for the first half of 2014.

It has won a total of £1.2 billion in the six months to the end of June, including a Department for Work and Pensions contract providing community work placements for the long-term unemployed.

The government has long been aware that G4S has not been averse to accepting controversial work.

In 2007 it signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Authority to maintain facilities holding Palestinian political prisoners, in apparent contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier.

Now it is set to help the US government run Guantanamo Bay, despite the fact around half of the inmates have been cleared as posing no threat.

The US DoD's statement explained G4S' tasks will include "family housing, facility management, facility investment, other (swimming pools), custodial, pest control, integrated solid waste management, grounds maintenance and landscaping, base support vehicles and equipment, electrical, wastewater, water, and limited facilities support functions".

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