Privatising the Police:The scandals behind the bidders

G4S – coming to a police station near you.

Would you trust a private company as much as you would a police force to protect you? Would you believe they follow the same  ethical standards and probity?  Would they train and pay their staff properly?  You could be about to find out as the West Midlands and Surrey police forces start to contract out service provision.

I have just completed a report for Unite the union on some of the companies bidding for £1.5 billion of work with the backing of Theresa May, the Home Secretary. If you link to  and download the report you can see my findings on some of the bidders.

A lot are covering up a load of  dark secrets and unethical and immoral practices outside the UK.

If don’t care a damn what happens to Palestinian prisoners on the West Bank in Israel or can’t be bothered that US troops breathe in toxic fumes from burn pits in Kabul or that companies use tax havens to avoid paying out medicare to staff, then you won’t mind what happens to your local police force in Birmingham or Guildford.

Take G4S for example. they have had to admit in their annual report that the need to train people to understand human rights. Evidently their Israeli subsidiary  staff prisons where they practised torture on their Palestinian inmates.

And if you are working in Britain, no prob that the company has axed its final salary scheme for all its employees while lining up a £403,000 a year non contributory pension for its chief executive.when he reaches the ripe young age of 60.

Or that former London police chief,Lord Condon is getting £123,000 plus a year plus his allowances in the House of Lords to promote police privatisation and rubber stamp top salary deals for his fellow directors.

Take another company KVR, best known for building Guantanamo Bay. Not quite as well-known for making sure its 21,000 staff in Iraq need not be covered by Medicare by using a Cayman Island tax haven to avoid having to provide it..

Or in blatant disregard to health and safety they face legal action for burning toxic materials in open tips on US bases in Kabul. So what if troops die from cancer, they are lucky not to be shot by the Taliban instead.

And then they are two home-grown companies. Blue Star, which provided two weeks training for auxiliary firefighters to protect your homes in London, in case the Fire Brigades Union goes out on strike.

And finally Reliance, run by Tory donating Brian Kingham – nice £6m house in Carlyle Square in  Chelsea – finances his company through a rather interesting family  trust – not tax avoiding again, surely not?

Obviously we are going to have a wonderful new era with privatisation – as we ditch ethics for profits.

We filmed bloggers and Barnet residents for Tory council-Private security chief

 Update: Barnet bloggers have called for full independent public inquiry into Barnet Council’s handling of the MetPro contract.

They say:

The only way that trust can be restored in Barnet Council, following the MetPro debacle, is to hold a full public inquiry. We the undersigned call on Nick Walkley, CEO of Barnet Council, and Lynne Hillan, Council Leader, to immediately engage an independent investigator, enjoying the confidence of Barnet residents, to look into the relationship between MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response and Barnet Council. We demand to know what Barnet Council asked MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response to do and what Barnet Council has done with any information about residents it has had access to as a result of MetPro’s work. Contact for more details: Vicki Morris

Did Barnet authorise the filming?


Or did the private security firm do it?

A former director of  a security company now bust with £400,000 debts – has  admitted that he equipped his security staff with security cameras so he could film protestors,bloggers and  residents – who came to Tory Barnet council’s meeting which approved cuts.

A scoop by Georgia Graham – a reporter on the Hampstead and Highgate Express  –  following up exclusives on this site and by Broken Barnet -(See this link to Broken Barnet for the latest story )  got an admission from Kevin Sharkey, one of  the directors of MetPro. See

In an interview today with me, he said: “Our staff normally wear clothing  with cameras so we can document what is happening for both sides. It is normal practice at football matches and where there are large crowds.” He said he was doing the filming for people’s safety and for his own staff’s safety to make sure nobody was hurt.

” In this day and age nobody would act without authorisation and we were asked to do this by Barnet Council. We were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. In the event nothing happened unlike at Camden and Haringey councils.”

 He  said the main reason why people could not watch the meeting was because they had arrived late and said that he knew people who were there were up ” tricks ” to get other people into the chamber which would have breached fire regulations.

” We know what tricks people got up to like saying they were going to the toilet to free a place and then coming back.”

He also amounted an extraordinary defence of the ” dire state ” of his company – saying he was an employee not a director – despite being registered at Companies House as a director.

 He put the blame for the collapse on his partner Luigi Mansi saying ” he  was running the company and he is going to have pay back a lot of money for a long time.”

 ” Me, I haven’t got a penny to my name and I am living in rented accommodation. I am part of the community myself. I was working 130 hours a week to keep the company going but it owed a lot of money in tax.”

Barnet Council yesterday insisted that it had not ordered MetPro to do this. In a statement the authority said:

“MetPro has gone into liquidation and the council has terminated its contract.  At no point has the council ever authorised security staff carrying lapel cameras. 
 “Unlike some other London boroughs, the setting of the budget in Barnet at cabinet and council was held with the public present and at the advertised time and place. Every resident who arrived at Hendon Town Hall by the start of the meeting had a place in either the public gallery or the overflow room.”

Whoever is right this is a damning indictment of local democracy at Barnet Council. They have employed people who are equipped to film people at a public meeting. They have banned bloggers and residents from filming, tweeting or recording their own council against the  advice of Eric Pickles, the communities secretary. They also have paid over £275,000 to a private security firm that has ended almost owing all that in unpaid tax. They either don’t know what they are doing or don’t care.

Revealed: The £400,000 debts of Barnet’s blogger banning private security firm

MetPro's fine lads: Owed £20,000 in unpaid wages

Documents filed by Mike Solomon, the liquidator of MetPro Rapid Response, the private security company accused of covertly filming and monitoring the borough’s bloggers, reveal that it went belly up owing over £400,000 ten days ago.

The biggest creditor is Revenue and Customs who are owed a cool £245,611.57, for unpaid tax, national insurance contributions, corporation tax and VAT.

 The company which took over £275,000 from the council taxpayers of the Tory borough to provide security and was used by the  council leader, Lynne Hillan,  to enforce a ban on bloggers filming or reporting the council’s big cuts meeting, could have been involved in tax avoidance.

The break down of the figures show that over £139,000 owed  is in PAYE and national insurance contributions and another £99,000 is VAT.

Employees are also owed over £21,000 in unpaid wages – and are top of the list to receive £8800 in payments if any money can be raised.

 The two directors of the company Kevin Sharkey and Luigi Mansi have put themselves down as creditors – saying they are owed £92,500 for loans they gave to the company. Other unpaid debts include £3400 to  their accountants, Bond Partners, the address where the company was last registered and a £4972 credit card debt to Barclaycard.

Total debts are over £400,000 while assets are just three motorcycles valued at £11,850; computer and office equipment worth £475 and security uniforms worth £1400. As a job lot Mr Solomon estimates he could sell them for £6000 plus a goodwill sum of £13,500 for anybody wanting the business.

The scale of the scandal raises questions about the due diligence employed by Barnet Council in appointing them in the first place, particularly as records show that voluntary liquidation involving the same directors has happened before. There could be a case for an investigation if a complaint was made to the district auditor about how the council tendering procedures handled their original appointment.

Since Barnet have been unable to answer a lot of questions from the public about this whole unhappy saga – may be they will feel they have to co-operate with auditors. Or may be not.

Private security firm that banned bloggers goes bust

gone bust Pic courtesy MetPro Rapid Response Ltd

The row over  Barnet Council’s ludicrous decision to defy Communities

Some of the fine lads working for MetPro, the blogger busting co. Pic courtesy:

Secretary Eric Pickles and ban bloggers and film makers from covering their cuts meeting has taken an extraordinary twist.

In order to enforce the ban the Tory council used MetPro Rapid Response – the council’s main private security contractors – to stop some residents and bloggers from entering the public gallery to see the council vote through cuts.

See footage on Broken Barnet website here:

Full story on Broken Barnet website. Link is Mrs Angry also reveals that the company may have done covert filming of residents and may be monitoring Barnet bloggers and this blog. The council says it is ” not aware” of any blog monitoring.

The company  has received £275,889  for work from the  council taxpayer according to Barnet’s documents released on the Openlylocal website.  See

It has also  received glowing tributes from the council. On MetPro’s website they quote Barnet Council as saying: ” MetPro has removed all of our safety worries at work thanks to their rapid response officers here in our building.”

 But now the company has just gone bust and is being run by a Liquidator, Mike Solomons, who according to the law firm handling the liquidation, Beavis Morgan, has put Barnet’s security staff contract up for sale.

Closer investigation of the MetPro has revealed some extraordinary facts. Its two directors, Kevin Sharkey and Luigi Anthony Mansi appear to have run a  string of companies which have gone bust before.

 The address of the firm until recently was a rented  multi million pound mansion in Totteridge Lane, Barnet owned by the  brothers Cyril and Edward Frey, aged 86 and 89, and a former lawyer from Finer and Company predecessor of Finers, Stephens, Innocent ( the firm defending the Wikileaks founder). The Land Registry entry confirms that the three owners can be contacted through them, though the law firm which handles multi million pound estates, says it does not manage the property.

Contrary to the glowing references from Barnet, its staff have received libellous comments on a security officers chat site. They are not surprisingly  hardly popular with a string of Barnet bloggers.

All this suggests that Barnet Council may  have more to answer than banning bloggers – and some explanation is required about what is going on and how this firm got the contract in the first place.

A Council spokesperson said: “Barnet Council is urgently reviewing MetPro Rapid Response’s position and will be liaising with the liquidators involved.”