A subsidiary of Allied Universal, the world's largest private security company. It runs private prisons in Australia and the UK and deports immigrants in the US. It divested from all of its activities with the Israeli government following a global campaign.
G4S PLC, headquartered in London, is the largest private security company in the world. In 2021, it was acquired by Allied Universal, the largest American private security company. At the time of acquisition, the combined company was the seventh-largest employer in the world and the third-largest employer in North America, after Walmart and Amazon.
Allied Universal is controlled by Canada's second-largest pension fund - Montréal-based Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which became its largest shareholder when it financed the acquisition of G4S - and U.S.-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus, its second-largest investor.
Until 2017, G4S was deeply involved in several projects of the Israeli occupation. Following a global campaign, the company sold almost all of its business activities in Israel. In 2023, it announced that it would sell its last business activity with the Israeli government: a minority stake in Policity, the Israeli National Police Academy.
G4S also used to be one of the main companies involved in the jailing of youth in the U.S. and U.K., a business that it also divested from in 2017. (See below for more details on these divestments.)
G4S has been conducting deportations for the U.S. government since at least 2006. Through its subsidiary G4S Secure Solutions, G4S has multiple large and long-term contracts with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), providing these agencies with transportation services and guards. Between 2008 and June 2023, the company's contracts with CBP and ICE amounted to just over $1 billion. G4S was highlighted as one of 14 border security "giants" in a 2019 report by the Transnational Institute and No Más Muertes.
Under its contracts with CBP, G4S transports immigrants arrested at the U.S.–Mexico border to immigration jails throughout the U.S. This includes temporarily incarcerating immigrants in transit or those awaiting "processing." A company promotional brochure describes these transports as "the bus no one wants to catch."
Similarly, G4S provides "detainee transportation services" to ICE field offices and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) (i.e., deportation) offices. As of June 2023, the company has such contracts with ICE offices in Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, and San Antonio.
The company has long been accused of mistreating immigrants under its care. For example, nine women transported by G4S for ICE in 2017 "were shackled by their hands and feed, then forced to ride in a boiling, windowless van for hours with no food, water, medication or toilet access," according to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. They spent over 24 hours being transported within California in what should have been a five-hour ride. While caged in the back of a G4S van, some of them fainted and vomited, suffered heat stroke symptoms, and believed they would die.
Private Prisons Around the World
G4S operates four prisons in the U.K., which together incarcerate over 5,000 individuals: Altcourse Prison, Oakwood Prison, Parc Prison and Young Offender Institute, and Rye Hill Prison. The company also formerly operated two immigration jails/deportation centers located next to London Gatwick Airport: Brook House and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centres.
G4S's U.K. prisons have faced numerous allegations of inhumane conditions, including systemic violence, physical and emotional abuse, child abuse, and prison labor. These issues have caused G4S to lose multiple contracts.
In 2020, following reports of "shocking" physical and verbal abuse of immigrants detained at Brook House, G4S announced that it would no longer run either of its two U.K. immigration jails. These jails are now operated by Serco.
One year prior, the company was "permanently stripped" of its contract for operating the "crisis-hit" Birmingham Prison following reports of ongoing violence, "filthy and degraded" conditions, routine instances of self-harm, riots, and other issues. G4S operated Birmingham Prison from 2011 to 2018, when the U.K. government seized control of the prison.
G4S operates two prisons in Australia—Mount Gambier Prison and Port Phillip Prison—and provides security services to Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre, a youth jail in Victoria. In addition, the company formerly operated Australia's Manus Regional Processing Centre, an immigration jail located in Manus Provence in Papua New Guinea.
As with its prisons in the U.K., G4S's prisons in Australia have faced allegations of "degrading and inhumane conditions," physical assaults, deficient safety protocols, and other similar issues.
In 2014, the company's contract for operating Australia's Manus Island immigration jail was terminated following several violent incidents, including "days of rioting" that resulted in 77 injuries and the beating death of an Iranian asylum seeker by two G4S guards. G4S faced multiple lawsuits in relation to this incident, in which the immigration jail was described, for example, as "unsanitary and marred by violence."
Between 2000 and 2023, G4S operated the world's second-largest private prison, Manguang Correctional Centre, located in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Through its partial ownership of Bloemfontein Correctional Services, G4S had a 25-year contract, set to expire in 2025, with the South African Department of Correctional Services to run the prison.
In May 2023, however, the South African government canceled the contract, taking over Manguang prison and stating that the company "is neither competent, nor suitable to continue" operating the prison. This followed a high-profile incident in which an individual incarcerated at Manguang escaped with the help of G4S guards. The company announced that it would stop operating prisons in South Africa altogether.
This was the second time the South African government took over Mangaung prison; the first takeover occurred in 2013 following a series of prison riots. Subsequent investigations revealed that G4S staff used electric shocks and forcible antipsychotic drug injections against incarcerated individuals. Despite this, the government returned the prison to G4S management in 2014. In 2015, 43 people incarcerated at Mangaung sued G4S for torture following revelations of a cover-up of the deaths of several incarcerated individuals.
E-carceration (Electronic Monitoring)
In 2022, G4S's parent company, Allied Universal, acquired Attenti, one of the world's largest electronic monitoring companies (formerly owned by 3M). Allied combined the company with G4S Monitoring Technologies to create Allied Universal Electronic Monitoring Services. Attenti claims to monitor over 200,000 people in more than 30 countries, as of 2013.
Attenti is one of four major providers of electronic monitoring in the U.S. Since 2013, it has provided electronic monitoring to state agencies through a master contract with Washington State, which other states can join through the National Association of State Procurement Officials. Participating states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. The states of Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, as well as Cook County, Ill., and the federal agency that oversees probations in Washington, D.C., hold independent contracts with Attenti.
Before merging with Attenti, G4S did not provide electronic monitoring services in the U.S., but had provided such services to government agencies in 20 other countries, including Australia, El Salvador, France, New Zealand, and the U.K.
In the past, G4S had a different electronic monitoring business, G4S Justice Services, which it sold to Sentinel Offender Services in 2012. At the time, G4S claimed to be "the world's largest provider of electronic monitoring services," monitoring the movements of 35,000 people across 20 countries.
Divesting From Israeli Apartheid
Until 2017, G4S was deeply involved in several projects of the Israeli occupation of Palestine through its Israeli subsidiary, G4S Israel (formerly Hashmira). As reported by Who Profits in 2011, the company provided security services and equipment to multiple illegal Israeli settlements, military checkpoints, and prisons.
At the time, G4S was one of the major providers of security systems and services to all branches of the Israeli government, including military bases and facilities and equipment of the Israeli security and finance industries. Its security patrol units, the company boasted, were manned by "combatants who graduated elite combat units in the Israeli army."
G4S was one of the companies highlighted in the 2010 Russell Tribunal on Palestine. A global campaign targeting the company followed, with dozens of institutions around the world—including cities, universities, churches, unions, United Nations agencies, and the European Parliament—dropping G4S as their security contractor. Similarly, multiple large institutional investors, like the Gates Foundation, the California Endowment, and a dozen mainline protestant denominations, divested from their G4S shares. (For a full list of these actions, see the "Economic Activism Highlights" section below.)
In 2016, as a result of this mounting pressure, G4S announced that it would sell its Israeli subsidiary to private equity firm FIIMI Opportunity Funds for $110 million. In 2017, the acquisition was completed. The Israeli company subsequently rebranded as G1 Secure Solutions and became independently publicly traded.
After the sale, G4S retained a minority stake in Policity, the company that built and operates the Israeli National Police Academy. Policity was established as a joint venture of G4S and Israeli infrastructure company Shikun & Binui, with each company owning 50%. The training facility opened in 2015 under a 20-year contract until 2035. After selling its Israeli subsidiary in 2017, G4S split its 50% stake with G1 Secure Solutions, with each company owning 25%.
Following the 2021 acquisition of G4S by Allied Universal—with financial backing from CDPQ (see above)—a Québec coalition ran a campaign calling on CDPQ to pressure G4S to divest itself of its shares in Policity. During public testimony in 2023, after hearing about conditions in Palestine, the head of CDPQ said that this "is not the kind of activity that we endorse at all." He also revealed that Allied had pledged to sell its stake in Policity as part of its acquisition of G4S.
In May 2023, G4S announced that it would sell its stake in Policity to G1. As of June 2023, this sale is pending the approval of the Israeli government and the banks that originally financed the project.
Divesting From Youth Detention Centers
Until 2017, G4S was one of the main companies in the youth detention industry in the U.S. and U.K. In 2016, the company announced that it would sell several of its most controversial businesses, including its youth jail subsidiaries.
In 2017, G4S sold its U.S. youth jail subsidiary, G4S Youth Services, for $56.5 million to BHSB Holdings, which later rebranded as TrueCore Behavioral Solutions. At the time of the sale, G4S Youth Services managed 28 youth detention facilities in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as additional youth probation services, residential facilities, and mental health and outpatient services. G4S's youth jails faced numerous allegations of sexual abuse, excessive force, and recurring riots, leading to several lawsuits against the company.
In 2016, G4S sold Homes2Inspire, its U.K. youth jail subsidiary, to the Prospects Group, which was acquired one year later by the charity organization Shaw Trust. At the time of the sale, Homes2Inspire operated 18 youth jails in the U.K. The company faced repeated reports of physical and mental abuse by G4S staff against youth.
- In April 2020, all six United Nations agencies in Jordan canceled their contracts with G4S.
- In December 2019, the Brown University Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices passed a recommendation that the University divest from companies facilitating human rights abuses in Palestine including G4S.
- On July 17, 2018, the Metro Nashville City Council voted to pass a resolution to not invest or contribute to any private company going forward. The resolution specifically named CoreCivic, a publicly traded company that operates private prisons in Tennessee and profits from the detention of immigrant detainees, but it also applies to other large private prison companies such as G4S and Geo Group.
- On May 23, 2018, student government of the California State University- East Bay unanimously endorsed a divestment resolution calling to divest from corporations profiting from the occupation of Palestine. The companies listed include Motorola Solutions, G4S, Hewlett Packard, and Caterpillar.
- On May 23, 2018, the student senate at the University of Oregon passed a divestment resolution to divest from companies including the Strauss Group, the Osem Group, Hewlett-Packard Company, Ahava, General Electric, Eden Springs, Motorola, G4S, Elbit Systems. The resolution also prohibited the purchase of products from Sabra, Tribe, Sodastream, and the companies listed above.
- On March 22, 2018, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers passed a resolution to call for the Trustees to divest two public pension funds, Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teacher Retirement Systems, from corporations involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The resolution named G4S and Caterpillar.
- On November 15, 2017, the University of Michigan's central student government passed a resolution for the University to divest from corporations that are involved in the human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including Boeing, G4S, Hewlett-Packard, and United Technologies.
- On October 26, 2017, the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement divested $1.2 million from private prison companies including G4S plc.
- On October 3, 2017, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Jordan divested from G4S due to its involvement in the occupation of Palestine.
- In August 2017, Cincinnati City Council proposed divesting $2.5 million from companies involved in private prisons, stating that the city "should not support an 'immoral' system." The companies the city is proposing to divest from include G4S, CoreCivic, and the GEO Group.
- On June 8, 2017, New York City's pension funds divested $48 million from private prison companies, including G4S.
- On May 22, 2017, Sacramento Regional Transit will not renew a contract with G4S for security guard companies, replacing G4S with in-house security agents. The contract was worth $3 million. The decision was made after nearly two years of activism from human rights, civil rights, and Palestinian rights groups. The contract ended June 30.
- On April 9, 2017, Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate passed a resolution urging the university to divest from "corporations that profit off the occupation of Palestine and the continued spread of settlements declared illegal under international law," including G4S.
- On March 15, 2017, the De Anza College Associated Student Body (DASB) passed a resolution to "divest from companies that violate international human rights law" in Palestine, naming specifically G4S. This was the first community college to pass a divestment resolution related to human rights violations in Palestine. Students for Justice, the group that presented the resolution, told DASB that "by asking De Anza to divest, you are asking them to no longer take a side in this conflict."
- On July 22, 2016, the Berkeley City Council passed a unanimous resolution to direct the City Manager to consider creating a portfolio screen preventing any future investments in private prison corporations including GEO Group, CoreCivic, Inc., and G4S.
- In July 2016, the city of Denver, Colorado decided to drop its $2.5 million municipal contract with G4S over the "company's notorious oppressive practices."
- In April 2016, the Alliance of Baptists unanimously decided to divest from companies profiting off the occupation, including G4S.
- In April 2016, the UN Office for Project Services becomes the third UN agency in Jordan to drop contracts with G4S.
- On April 12, 2016, the University of Minnesota passed a resolution calling for socially responsible investment policies and divestment from global human rights violations.
- On April 2, 2016, the University of Indianapolis Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from "companies profiting from human rights violations in Palestine," including G4S.
- On March 22, 2016, Cornell University’s Herman F. Johnson Museum of Art terminated its contract with British security Firm, G4S. Black Students United at Cornell University campaigned for the termination because of G4S’ involvement in the private prison industry.
- March 25, 2016, The Unitarian Universalist Association and its endowment fund have implemented a human rights screen and divested from companies complicit in human rights violations, including G4S.
- On March 9, 2016, Palestinian activists led by Bassem al-Tamimi filed a $34.5 billion civil lawsuit in D.C. against individuals and companies that have been "funding violent settlement activities in occupied Palestine." The lawsuit names several defendants, including G4S, RE/MAX, Africa Israel Investments, Motorola, Volvo, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Oracle Corp., and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
- On March 6, 2016, the Vassar Student Association voted to support the international BDS movement and to divest from companies profiting from Israeli human rights abuses, including G4S.
- On March 1, 2016, the University College London Union voted to support the BDS campaign, stating that the student union will “not have any commercial or investment relationship with companies that participate in Israeli violations of international law, including G4S, Veolia, HP and military companies that supply Israel such as BAE Systems and Raytheon.”
- In March 2016, the United Nations Children's Fund in Jordan decided to terminate its contract with G4S over growing pressure from organizers concerned with G4S involvement in occupation.
- The Undergraduate Student Government Assembly at the University of Illinois-Chicago unanimously voted on February 16, 2016, to pass a resolution to divest from corporations profiting off the Israeli occupation and other human rights violations, including G4S.
- On February 10, 2016, California State University, Los Angeles administrators have agreed to divest from private prison companies after pressure from CSULA Black Student Union.
- On January 19, 2016, a landslide vote by the University of South Florida student senate passed a joint resolution to divest from corporations who profit from "illegal and brutal occupation" in Palestine, including G4S. The resolution was later vetoed by the student government president.
- In December 2015, the California Endowment divested its holdings from "companies that derive significant annual revenue from private prison services," including G4S.
- In November 2015, the student government at San Jose State University voted to divest from "companies that play an active role in the human rights violations committed by the Israeli Government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories" including G4S.
- In the UK, the Labour Party officially instituted a boycott G4S as of November 21st, 2015, citing the company's role in violating Palestinian human rights.
- In October 2015 the Human Rights Council of the city of Portland, Oregon demanded that the City Socially Responsible Investments Committee place G4S on the city's "Do Not Buy" list due to its complicity in "serious human rights violations in the ongoing illegal and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land."
- On June 30, 2015, the United Church of Christ voted in favor of "divestment and boycott of companies that are complicit in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza" including G4S.
- In June 2015, Columbia University officially divested from G4S as part of a new policy prohibiting investment in the private prison industry and based on G4S's business both in the United States and Palestine/Israel.
- In May 2015, the Oglethorpe University Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from G4S “based on evidence of their active role in human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
- In May 2015, the University of Helsinki announced that it was dropping its security contract with G4S in response to a campaign initiated by concerned students and faculty objecting to the company's role in the Israeli prison.
- In February 2015, the student union at the University of Kent in the southeast of England voted to terminate its contract with G4S following an “outcry” over its role in human rights abuses in Palestine, South Africa, the UK and other countries.
- Stanford University students passed a resolution in February 2015, urging divestment from G4S, among other “companies implicated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, many of which facilitate parallel injury against communities of color here in the United States.”
- Northwestern University students voted to divest from G4S in February 2015, citing its involvement in “interrogation and detention centers where Palestinians are regularly subjected to torture.”
- In January 2015, the student union at University College London voted unanimously to drop its contract with G4S in response to its "atrocious" human rights record in Israel/Palestine and US prisons.
- In January 2015, the UC Davis student senate passed a divestment resolution urging the university to drop investments in G4S because it “provides resources furthering human rights violations and systematic discrimination.” The bill was later repealed based on a constitutional technicality.
- In November 2014 the municipality of Durham, North Carolina dropped a municipal private policing contract with G4S after a successful community campaign by the Durham Drop G4S coalition for non-renewal.
- Loyola University in Chicago passed a 2014 divestment resolution against G4S because it “play[s] active roles in the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government.”
- In May 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it had divested enough shares in G4S to no longer meet the 3% ownership threshold required for reporting. The move came after a year-long activist campaign highlighting G4S's role in the Israeli prison system and mass incarceration.
- In 2014, the University of New Mexico’s Graduate and Professional Student Association voted to divest from G4S, citing its “security equipment for Israeli prisons that hold Palestinian political prisoners and for Israeli military checkpoints.”
- In 2014, Britain’s National Union of Students voted to call on its members to boycott G4S because it is “complicit in financing and aiding Israel’s military.”
- The Black Students' Conference (of Britain’s National Union of Students) in 2014 resolved to “lobby Institutions and Unions to divest from key BDS target companies, including G4S” due to Israel’s “multitude of human rights and international law violations.”
- The Dutch Green Party discontinued using G4S for its national office’s security in 2014, citing its “activities in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.”
- The United Methodist Church voted to divest its pension fund from G4S in 2014, citing “concerns about the company's involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories. ”
- In 2014, the student union at Britain's Kent University voted to divest from G4S because of its "human rights abuses in Palestine."
- The Oberlin College student senate voted to divest from G4S in May 2013 due to its “injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people by Israel.”
- Dundee University (Scotland) students voted to end outstanding G4S contracts in 2013, citing its “services and equipment for the Israeli security institutions and buildings operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
- The University of Oslo ended its G4S security contract in 2013.
- Dutch labor union Abvakabo terminated its contract with G4S in 2013, citing "its role in Israel’s violations of international law.”
- In November 2013, King’s College London and Southampton University chose not to award G4S major security contracts following vigorous student campaigns.
- In November 2013, the University of Bergen in Norway decided not to use G4S as its security contractor due to the firm’s role in the Israeli prison system and illegal Israeli settlements. While G4S offered a price that was considerably lower than any other bidder, the university concluded that contracting the company would cause it reputational damage that amounts to more money than the price gap.
- In October 2013, Industri Energi, a trade union for workers in the energy and heavy industry sectors in Norway, canceled its contract with G4S over its role in Israeli prisons.
- In August 2012, British firm Good Energy announced that it would end its business relationship with G4S because of the company's human rights record in both Israel/Palestine and in UK prisons
- In April 2012, G4S lost its contract with the European Parliament after a year-long campaign by a group of 28 Members of the European Parliament in conjunction with activists calling attention to the company's worldwide abuse of human rights.
- In November 2010, the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Denmark ended its contract with G4S. Pat Nissen of RCT’s explained that “G4S as a company is helping to facilitate torture.”