Major Security Provider Under Scrutiny Over Vetting Practices

By Michael Klazema on 2/13/2020

Many businesses face an increasing need to protect themselves from liability through better pre-employment screening in 2020. In few industries is that need as pressing as it is in private security. With increased public perception of risk, the ability to create a safe and secure atmosphere is a valuable business model. One major provider faced intense scrutiny early in 2020 over an alleged record of hiring problematic individuals and failures to fire employees for misconduct.

The allegations concern security provider G4S, which employs hundreds of thousands worldwide. A USA Today investigative story uncovered reports of G4S hiring managers circumventing best practices and forgoing criminal background checks to meet the high demand created by lucrative municipal contracts. 

In some cases, G4S hired individuals despite red flags, such as a history of violence or crime. According to the report, some of those new hires went on to commit crimes on the job.

The USA Today story resulted in a pause on G4S's latest contract, which was an agreement to provide private security for the metro transit system in the St. Louis area. G4S claims that the report takes many incidents out of context and that problem employees represent a tiny fraction of its overall workforce. Bi-State, the organization in charge of the St. Louis Metro, said it was satisfied with the explanations that it received from the company, but public concern and the desire to foster trust in the system still led to the contract delay.

While it may be true that the individuals identified by USA Today are a small portion of the G4S workforce, the controversy illustrates the importance of consistency. A business that applies its vetting policies to 99% of applicants assumes an unacceptable level of risk: a well-applied policy should mean that 100% of applicants undergo screening. Should something go wrong, the public won’t remember 99 trustworthy employees: they’ll remember the one unchecked employee who committed a crime.

The controversy also highlights the significance of a clear disciplinary process and continuous screening from a provider such as G4S, according to USA Today, would routinely reassign troubled employees rather than fire them—the result, for now, is a damaged reputation that will potentially impact both current and future contracts. Clearing a pre-employment background check is not a predictor of future behavior, so if an employee does commit questionable or criminal acts, businesses must have a plan in place for identifying problems and taking appropriate actions. 

Protecting your reputation and promoting confidence go hand-in-hand. It may not be possible to avoid every concern, but quickly addressing issues when they do arise is the strongest course of action. 

Rather than waiting for concerns to arise, do your best to ensure that they don't develop in the first place. Developing a clear background check policy is critical for every business, and so is having the tools to consistently apply that policy. provides robust resources such as the instant US OneSEARCH and the state-specific criminal history report that make consistency an achievable goal.

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