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Fishiest outsourcing firms



G4S (formerly Group 4 Securicor) is the world's largest security company, with headquarters in the UK and operations in 125 countries. With more than 650,000 employees, it is one of the world's largest private-sector employers. Its slogan is "securing your world".

Six years ago British public-sector contracts made up 15% of G4S revenues, but that figure is now nearly 30%. The FTSE100 company has grown from running prisons and immigration detention centres to operating police services, public surveillance, schools, hospitals and welfare schemes.

This summer G4S admitted its failure to provide security for the London 2012 Olympics had been a "humiliating shambles". The government was forced to draft in the police and army to cover a shortfall of several thousands of staff. As a goodwill gesture, G4S donated £2.5m to the army – and then insisted it still receive its £57m management fee.

Chief executive Nick Buckles, who was paid nearly £3m in 2010, says his hero is Margaret Thatcher, and has called on the government "to continue to focus on traditional Tory values around encouraging a meritocracy and inspiring value creation". But the company has cross-party appeal. In 2009 it recruited Labour MP and former Defence Secretary John Reid to offer "strategic advice", shortly before winning a huge defence contract.

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