G4S: providing a public service, subject to public law principles
In May this year, G4S were given the contract to provide accommodation to asylum seekers in the Midlands but there were serious delays in finding suitable or adequate accommodation for many.
This was the case for our client who had been living in Initial Accommodation for three months and suffers with PTSD and has had his right leg is amputated below the knee. He had fallen in the bathroom on five separate occasions and his fragile mental state was being exacerbated by his living conditions.
We sent a pre-action letter to G4S threatening Judicial Review on the basis that the Initial Accommodation was unsuitable for a man with our client’s disability and that the continued delay in providing adequate accommodation to him was unreasonable on public law grounds. Happily, G4S agreed and found suitable alternative accommodation for our client within days.
Whilst we are pleased that there was a successful outcome for our client in this case, we are also aware that many other people continue to be poorly served by the increasing number of private providers of public services.
Our argument is that many private providers of public services avoid scrutiny of the way in which they are providing these services and claim not to be subject to public law principles and Judicial Review. We believe that this case shows they should be.
Public scrutiny of the way in which services are provided is essential in a democratic society. This creeping privatisation disempowers all of us by excluding us from the courts as a means of challenge or redress when services are performed badly, unlawful decisions are made or administration is poor.