G4S Plc (GFS), the world’s biggest security services provider, was criticized by the U.K. prison inspector for “very concerning” conditions at a new training jail the company operates near Wolverhampton.
The HM Inspectorate of Prisons said many staff were inexperienced at Oakwood, which has been managed by G4S since its opening in April 2012, while many prisoners felt unsafe. The report was based on an unannounced June inspection of the facility, which can hold more than 1,600 inmates.
“There is a lot to do before Oakwood is operating anywhere near effectively,” Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said in the report published on the inspectorate’s website. “Prisoner frustration needed to be addressed. Systems that delivered basic services had to be made to work.”
G4S, which generated about 10 percent of revenue last year from U.K. government contracts, has suffered a series of blows to its home-market reputation. The company replaced its chief executive officer after it failed to provide enough guards for last year’s London Olympics and was accused by the Justice Ministry this year of overcharging for the electronic tagging of prisoners.
G4S, based in Crawley, England, said that the size and scale of Oakwood makes challenges to its operations “more acute” and that the company is rectifying the situation.
“We have already taken steps to make improvements, appointing a dedicated task force to address problem areas, such as the prevalence of drugs, while providing additional funding where necessary,” Jerry Petherick, managing director of G4S Custodial and Detention Services, said in an e-mailed comment.
Shares in G4S fell 0.7 percent to 247.50 pence in London at 10:30 a.m. local time, giving the company a market value of 3.8 billion pounds ($6.2 billion).
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