France Investigation

High-profile security firm accused of inflating workplace injuries to boost its taxpayer-funded budget

The security firm GPIS runs a much-envied service safeguarding many of Paris' most difficult social housing estates. But this flagship organisation, which has top-level political links and is funded with public money, stands accused of artificially increasing the number and extent of injuries suffered by its agents in the line of duty in order to increase its budget. Former and current staff also talk of a “climate of fear” and stress at the heart of the organisation and of a management culture that systematically encourages false witness statements in legal proceedings. Louise Fessard investigates.

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They do the rounds at night in the most difficult Parisian districts or arrondissements, will soon be equipped with side-handled batons and sprays, they wear bulletproof vests, navy blue fatigues and ankle boots and, when the occasion demands, carry shields and handcuffs. But in contrast with the police officers with whom they sometimes patrol, their uniforms are marked GPIS (Groupement parisien inter-bailleurs de surveillance), referring to an organisation set up by public landlords of large social housing estates in Paris to patrol those areas. Nor do they have the same powers as the police.

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