12 Jul 2012

G4S: the anatomy of a ‘shambles’

Cut off from contact, trained but not deployed, and still unsure of working hours: G4S employees tell Channel 4 News of a shambolic recruitment process that has left staff seething.

G4S has been unable to provide the necessary levels of staff to police Olympic venues, forcing the Home Office to bring in 3,500 military officers to fill the gap.

But Channel 4 News understands that many prospective employees, who have completed training paid for by G4S and who could potentially be hired, are not being deployed. Some have not even been informed of when – or if – they will eventually be needed.

Many security staff stopped previous work commitments, expecting to be working throughout July and August, but have now been left with no guaranteed paid work. Others have been frustrated with G4S cutting off communication about when and where they should be working.

A duty manger contracted to work for G4S told Channel 4 News that despite having undergone training, she is at home waiting for them to process her security clearance.

“I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, where I’m going to be working – nothing. There are hundreds of managers sitting at home in exactly the same position as me, waiting to hear from G4S. It’s unbelievable,” she said.

Having worked in security for 20 years, she is well aware of the level of training needed to work on such a large scale event: “The Olympics start in two weeks. Basically, staff are gong to be starting work without having done any venue training – evacuation practices or anything.”

Read more: Pressure builds on Olympic organisers over G4S failures

Eugene Kelly completed a four-day training course before Christmas, having signed up to work for G4S through the Bridging the Gap scheme. Trainees were told that G4S paid £300 for each of the 80 people taking part in the training at City and Islington College, Holloway Road. But Mr Kelly believes that only a handful of people he trained with were actually taken on as employees.

Mr Kelly postponed his interview in order to get relevant paperwork together, but was then told at the beginning of May that they were no longer recruiting.

I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, where I’m going to be working – nothing. There are hundreds of managers sitting at home in exactly the same position as me, waiting to hear from G4S. It’s unbelievable. G4S duty manager

“Initially, they were all very optimistic. They were really talking up this fantastic opportunity, but in the last couple of months, it’s been; ‘I’m sorry we don’t have time for you’,” he told Channel 4 News.

“We were given a load of contacts early on, people who are supposed to be in the local area, but now they’ve all moved on to a different job and it’s impossible to talk to anyone.”

Mr Kelly was employed through the Bridging the Gap scheme which is thought to have recruited around 5,000 to 6,000 colleges students, aged 18-25 year old, to work for G4S on Olympic sites. The law was changed so that young people hired through the scheme were exempt from needing a security licence.

Comments on the G4S ‘Securing London 2012’ Facebook page
Daniel Sedgeley Broadbent
: The training & administration has been appalling, as well as promising certain positions & not fulfilling it. Still waiting for the SIA [Security Industry Authority] badge from the course completed start of March.
Matt Lenton: All I want to know is why I waiting 7 months.. to be told via email that I apparently withdrawn my application (which I Didn’t).
Harvey Green: After being on hold for 1 hour and 20 minuts Im told theres NO MORE LONDON SIA TRAINING DATES BEFORE THE GAMES, thanks alot G4S, what an omnishambles I will definitely be complaining, there is no consistency or communication.

A G4S spokesman told Channel 4 News that due to the large number of applicantions to work at the Olympics, there were occasions where the company had “lost contact”.

Locog originally contracted G4S to provide 2,000 security guards, but the London organisers then re-estimated the total number needed, and G4S agreed in December to supply 10,000 personnel out of the 23,700 now considered necessary. The new contract is worth an estimated £284m.

G4S said they had 110,000 applications for 10,000 jobs, and undertook 50,000 interviews.

“We have had odd cases where people have been misdirected to shifts, but it’s a huge workforce we’ve been recruiting, and where there have been errors in our system, we regret that,” a spokesman told Channel 4 News.

“There are cases where we’ve lost contact, and communication hasn’t been as good as we’d like it to have been. We have had a huge number of people to get through what has been very rigorous recruitment process.”