It is always good to reflect back on experiences.
Well here goes
Yesterday I attended the G4S AGM at the Excel Centre in London, I was not prepared for what I saw and experienced. I felt oppression as soon as I entered the building; it was as though I was being ‘kettled’ into an area to be contained. Security was very tight and uncomfortable, my every movement was watched, and it was intimidating! Before being allowed into the actual room for the AGM, G4S security eye-balled you, the atmosphere was heavy and everyone remained silent!
I sat down 5 rows from the front on the left and quickly the seats were filled around me. I felt nervous, apprehensive and uneasy. A G4S security guard sat beside me and another guard that was lined up along the wall had his eyes focused on me. I had dressed smartly in a suit, was polite, yet I seemed to be targeted by the staff. Within minutes of the start of the meeting I saw the heavy-handedness of the G4S security staff and after only 20 minutes or so 3 shareholders had been pulled and dragged from beside me. One man was dragged over my legs pinning me to my seat and I was unable to move away. I was horrified as the staff showed no respect and no due care and attention. The majority of the board of 12 members in front of us remained silent. To be honest I felt rather scared and wondered if for my own safety I should leave at that moment. I was visibly shaken by the whole experience, but I was determined that I would put my question to the board so I pulled myself together and prepared for my opportunity.
When the Chairman John Connolly finally noticed my hand I took the microphone, stood up and addressed the board by saying “I would like to go back to the subject of caring for prisoners…
One year ago (10–21June 2013) the Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Oakwood by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons stated that…
“Against all four of our healthy prison tests, safety, respect, activity and resettlement, the outcomes we observed were either insufficient or poor”
Why is it that after a year, there are still major issues within that prison? An example is that the Government released figures in April revealing that more than 600 incidents of self-harm had been recorded in HMP Oakwood in 2013, yet the web site for HMP Oakwood states: we aim to inspire, motivate and guide prisoners to become the best they can be.
My question was not answered, the CEO said that he was aware of the recommendations of the report and that it was normal to have teething problems with a new jail. In reference to the alarmingly high levels of self harm all that was said was there are self harm issues in all prisons.
I was closed down and unable to respond to his feeble answer, twice!
There was no remorse for what was happening in this prison, the CEO didn’t seem to be that concerned even though we are talking about lives.
On the train heading home I re-lived the afternoon and was still shocked at what I experienced. I am not put off, I plan to follow through my genuine concern for how G4S runs prisons in this country and I will be better prepared for next year’s AGM.