Manchester City Council has selected G4S to deal with anti-social behaviour of students at Fallowfield. This security measure is being funded by Manchester universities. However, not everyone is happy with the hiring of the private security contractor.
Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester have joined forces to implement a pilot scheme to tackle anti-social behaviour and the actions of a small number of students. The universities state that the behaviour of these students not only affects the lives of other students but also of the local residents. The areas that will be covered by the private security contractor are Fallowfield and Withington. The pilot programme will run for eight weeks, starting 17th September.
A leading local newspaper had initially reported that two “bouncers” were going to patrol Fallowfield during Welcome Week to deal with troublemakers. Another newspaper reported that the bouncers would, in fact, be security guards from G4S.
This immediately drew criticism from the student community. The University of Manchester Students’ Union stated that they were not very comfortable about G4S being used for the pilot programme. The students’ union executive team added that it had held meetings with the city council and university officials and had expressed its concerns about G4S being used to patrol the area.
G4S is mired in controversy. The firm has been charged with torturing prisoners in South Africa, though it denies these allegations. It is held responsible for the 2010 death of an immigrant whilst being deported. Another report stated that G4S guards used excessive force against a pregnant woman at a detention centre meant for immigrant families.
Recently, G4S was again in the news after the Labour Party announced that it was boycotting the firm due to its contracts to operate prisons in Israel meant for political prisoners. However, G4S announced a few months ago that it would be divesting its Israel-based subsidiary.
A spokesperson for the two universities stated that both universities were committed to maintaining a positive relationship with the local community. In an attempt to ensure this, the universities were introducing a pilot night-time response scheme to address nuisance behaviour by students.