G4S goes where public forces can't

London based company G4S is the largest private security company in the entire world. It contracts ex-military soliders to go where public forces can’t. The company has about 620,000 employees in 120 different countries, and provides gurard services anywhere from oil fields to nuclear facilities in the U.S.

William Langewiesche wrote about the company in a piece for Vanity Fair called “The Chaos Company”.  He said G4S is a $12 billion a year industry, and that the company has grown so large, that sometimes they have lost control.

“There’s no doubt that that’s a problem for G4S -- as it would be for any company that size. So yes, of course they have problems. And they’re an easy target because they are a private force and this goes against the conventional grain: Where these are either police or military functions... in an ideal world [they] would be performed by a public force.  But you have to compare that to the riots, the killings, the brutatlity done by armies and by police forces.”

Langewiesche said the private security business is not without criticism, but that those who oppose the industry should take a close look at what public forces have actually done.

About the author

David Gura is a senior reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.


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