Private Security: A Bad Deal for British Tax Payers

A no holds barred BBC Scotland Investigates documentary revealing how former British servicemen are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan while on UK government contracts paid for by British tax payers is currently playing on BBC iPlayer

I urge anyone who reads this post to please help get the word out about this very important, long overdue documentary. When a security contractor enters the public consciousness, it’s usually due to a tragic scandal that reinforces the image of a gun totting mercenary with no love for his nation and no moral foundation.

The reality is very different.

It may not sell newspapers, but the truth is the overwhelming majority of British private security contractors working in hostile environments are competent professionals who strive to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.  They are decent men and women, many of them ex-military, trying to earn an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work.  Their attitudes and motives are no different from professional soldiers. In fact many of them are doing military jobs outsourced by Britain and its allies.  When it comes to recognition and support however, private contractors couldn’t be further from their armed forces counterparts.  Continue reading


They don’t come home in flag draped coffins. Crowds do not line the street in silent tribute to their sacrifice.   They are the fallen heroes the government keeps in the shadows; private security contractors who’ve lost their lives servicing British interests in hostile environments.   It’s high time they were honoured.

Those familiar with my writings will know that this is a topic very close to my heart.  For years I’ve been shouting from the rafters for government to externally regulate private security firms with operations abroad.  Continue reading

The Free and The Forgotten

Free thanks to his family.

After a horrendous ordeal, British security manager Bill Shaw is on his way home.  Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the terrible injustice suffered by the G4S manager.  Back in April, Mr. Shaw was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $25,000 for allegedly bribing Afghan officials to release two impounded G4S vehicles.  Earlier this month, an Afghan appeals court finally threw out the charges against Mr. Shaw, citing insufficient evidence.

I cannot begin to imagine the hell that Bill Shaw has been through.  By all accounts he is a manager of impeccable integrity who believed he had paid a legitimate fine to a member of the NDS, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency.  In fact, it was his attempt to obtain a receipt for the payment that resulted in his arrest and incarceration.  Sadly, Mr. Shaw learned the hard way what happens to honest men in Afghanistan.  He spent four months in Kabul’s notorious Pul-i-Charki prison alongside murderers, Taliban and hardcore jihadists who put a $10,000 bounty on his head.    Continue reading

When Security and Profits Don’t Mix

Taking Aim at PSC Reform

It looks like ArmorGroup North America will be down one lucrative contract next year.  The US State Department is reportedly severing its relationship with the private security firm following an investigation into allegations of lewd, drunken behaviour and sexual misconduct by ArmorGroup contractors protecting the US Embassy in Kabul.   

     I have long argued against outsourcing military jobs – such as guarding embassies – to private security firms.  The reason is simple. The military exits to protect and serve the national interest whereas PSCs operate for one reason and one reason only; to turn a profit.  Continue reading