The company was set up in 2004 when London-based company Securicor amalgamated with Danish business Group 4 Falck. The company offers a range of services, including the supply of security personnel, monitoring equipment, response units and secure prisoner transportation. G4S also works with governments overseas to deliver security.
It is the world's largest security company measured by revenues and has operations in more than 90 countries. With over 570,000 employees, it is the world's third-largest private employer, the largest European and African private employer, and among the largest on the London Stock Exchange. G4S was founded in 2004 by the merger of the UK-based Securicor plc with the Denmark-based Group 4 Falck.
G4S has its origins in a guarding business founded in Copenhagen in 1901 by Marius Hogrefe, originally known as København Frederiksberg Nattevagt (Copenhagen and Frederiksberg Night Watch) and subsequently renamed Falck (Falcon). In 2000, Group 4, a security firm formed in the 1960s, merged with Falck to form Group 4 Falck and by 2000 the company was described as "the world's largest private security systems company". In 2002 Group 4 Falck went on to buy The Wackenhut Corporation in the United States.
G4S was formed in July 2004, when Group 4 Falck's security business merged with Securicor to create Group 4 Securicor and began trading on both the London and Copenhagen Stock Exchanges. In 2005, Lars Nørby Johansen was succeeded as chief executive by Nick Buckles and, in 2006, the new G4S brand identity was rolled out across its business worldwide. In the same year, Alf Duch-Pedersen succeeded Jorgen Philip-Sorensen to become the non-executive chairman of the business.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008, G4S was the subject of a global campaign by union workers alleging that its subsidiaries undermine labour and human rights standards. Some of these groups were organised under the banner of the SEIU-funded Focus on Group 4 Securicor. This group supported protests at Group 4 Securicor's annual general meeting in London in 2005.
The 2006, US State Department Report on Human Rights in Indonesia, released in March 2006, featured the ongoing dispute in Jakarta with Group4/Securicor. In July 2006, the Indonesian Securicor workers had a substantial win – but the campaigners continue to support other Group 4 Securicor workers. The company disputed these claims and pointed to its strong relationships with unions around the world, including the GMB in Britain. In March 2008, it was announced that G4S were taking over Scottish Rock Steady Group – who steward at major sporting and music events mostly in the UK. Rock Steady events have included Live8 concerts in London, Scottish FA Cup Final & the Download Festival. In April 2008, G4S acquired RONCO Consulting Corporation, one of the world's premier humanitarian and commercial mine action, ordnance disposal and security companies.