Monday, 16 September 2013

Grayling in a Corner

According to Alan Travis writing in the Guardian yesterday:-  

The justice secretary is to allow two security companies to bid for Ministry of Justice contracts despite both facing alleged fraud investigations over existing deals.
Chris Grayling has not ruled Serco and G4S out of the running for new MoJ contracts, which include the £800m privatisation of most probation services.
But he has for the first time assured his Labour counterpart Sadiq Khan that no new contracts will be awarded to either company until a series of official "forensic audits" has given them a clean bill of health.
The official publication of invitations to bid for the privatisation of the bulk of the probation service is due soon. Both companies are leading contenders for the payment-by-results contracts under which 235,000 offenders are to be supervised each year. City analysts see few other large-scale players able or willing to bid for the work if Serco and G4S are excluded.
It's becoming ever more clear to the MoJ/Noms implementation team that there simply aren't going to be enough bidders for the probation contracts being advertised this week, and as a result peace is breaking out between the minister and naughty Serco and G4S. Grayling has finally realised what everyone else has known for ages, that he desperately needs these large companies in order to save his bacon and have any chance of making the Transforming Rehabilitation omnishambles work.  
Such is the level of confusion, mistrust and disinterest amongst potential bidders that there is even talk of the big boys being allowed to sweep up more than three Contract Package Areas. But Grayling has boxed himself into a corner as the Guardian article goes on to explain:-
Grayling told Khan last week: "I am strongly of the view that we should not award new contracts for the two companies until we have established the facts about both their performance and their corporate behaviour. That is why I have requested an audit of every contract that MoJ holds with G4S and Serco.
"It is important to note that MoJ will not award new contracts to the companies unless this audit work is completed to our satisfaction. However, I do not intend to prejudge the outcome of this process at this stage by excluding the two companies from participating in the current competitions." Grayling said a decision will be taken only once the audits have been completed.
Now if you were of a cynical persuasion you could be forgiven for thinking what the outcome of these forensic audits and investigations might be. Both Serco and G4S are desperately important to the government and hold vital strategic contracts. When Grayling upset the apple cart by launching his House of Commons tirade a few weeks back alleging fraud by these huge companies, there must have been a sigh of disbelief at No10 and the Ministry of Defence.
As this Sunday Times article makes clear, there is a vast MOD procurement contract on offer and Grayling's ill-thought-out vendetta against Serco and G4S is not only in danger of scuppering his own TR plans, but also those of a major bidder for the MOD contract:-
SERCO faces being excluded from a huge defence outsourcing deal after becoming caught up in two fraud investigations.
The FTSE 100 company is embroiled in two government probes into claims that it overcharged the Ministry of Justice for tagging criminals and falsified prisoner transfer documents.
The allegations have infuriated ministers and, in effect, left the outsourcer frozen out of bids for government work until the investigations are completed.
Serco is part of a consortium, led by CH2M Hill, the American engineering consultancy, that wants to run Defence, Equipment & Support (DE&S). This is the agency responsible for buying fighter jets, tanks and warships for the Ministry of Defence.

Postscript - Thanks to a reader for pointing out this story from the Irish Republic - because of the allegations against Serco, the Irish Government decided last week not to proceed with awarding a large contract to them.  


  1. If Serco/G4S are indeed able to bid, then any audit team should be appointed independently by the select commity.
    As this now raises a concern where part of the public estate could be sold to companies that have previously abused public contracts or defrauded the state (offenders supervising offenders?), then it should be an issue for the select commity anyway.
    Whats happened to the second reading of the TR bill anyway?

  2. Lets not forget, because it's important, both Serco and G4S apart from the possibility of defrauding the government, (and is the British the only one?) they face considerable and global accusations of human rights abuses.
    Are we to allow the MoJ/NOMs to place such a large portion of our society many with mental health issues, substance dependency or vulnerable, into the watchful care of these two money making engines?
    Media use is essential right now. The public need to be brought up to speed on these sins of state.

  3. Anyone care to give me odds on the "forensic audits" giving both companies a very speedy clean bill of health? Or at worst, some kind of minor slap on the wrist? The Govt has already paved the way by stating there was no evidence of wrongdoing at board level - how can they possibly know until they've investigated?

    1. The government today announce changes to the way benifit fraud is to be dealt with. The maximum penelty will now be 10 years.
      There appears to be an ever widening gap between white collar and blue collar crime.
      Joe bloggs can get 10 years for a few hundred quid, and unlike Serco or G4S who get a free audit for millions, old Joe bloggs wont be given the option of just giving back, no mre said, about the amount you've nicked.

    2. Life peer Lord Gold (Conservative) of Proven U.K and cash for access trouble shooter brought in by Serco?
      Serco will bid, and I think successfully.

  4. Oh, and there was an interesting article at the other day about Capita's plans for extending tagging, now that it's nabbed the work from Serco and G4S.

    1. Some very enlightening information to be found in the F.Times two days ago under
      "Irish agency cancels Serco contract".
      Its a must read.

    2. Intersting the foreign Governments are dispensing with the services of a compromised SERCO whilst our own MoJ, the vtictims of same compromised company, are still willing to open their house to them.


  5. Some thoughts from me prompted by Joe Kuiper's blog "The Emperor's New Clothes"

    In the script of the story that leads into the Danny Kay sung version a child says something like - "Its not a King only a Queen with a moustache!"

    "Are we sure we are NOT trying to act as if nothing much is really happening, in case by pointing out, the situation as we really see it, we immediately risk losing what we now have?"

    Andrew Hatton

  6. Developing a probation mutual: from theory to practice

    I wasn't convinced of the theory or the practice and made some comments which Russell Webster is yet to moderate - before it is known whether they are to be exposed to his readers on that blog written by Saleha Wadee CEO of Laurus Development, the first mutual to spin out of the probation service.

    Andrew Hatton

  7. Unrelated to the comments above, but a thought just occured to me and I hope its not a silly one.
    The TR RISK REGISTER lays in some Whitehall vault where no-one can view it, its not for publication and to be keept away from public eyes at all cost it would appear.
    Now surely only a buffoon would bid for a contract where the risk is significant enough to be keept deliberately hidden?
    Multi-Nationals such as Serco and G4S may indeed be abhorent companies, but I doubt if they're buffoons.
    So two questions really (and sorry if they're silly) but....
    1. Has or will the TR RISK REGISTER that will not be shown to the public be disclosed to the companies bidding for probation work prior to any bid being tendered?
    2. If the TR RISK REGISTER is not disclosed to bidding companies prior to sumitting tenders, then the government have failed to provide the bidding company with vital information it was aware of at the point of sale. Would that not be enough to absolve any outsourcing company of responsibility, or even provide a basis for contract termination?


  9. I know its a very serious week for probation, and people are quietly waiting for news and are pensive about their futures. But heres a short article I stumbled accross today that I'd like to share with you. It gave me a feel good factor and maybe it can do the same for the rest of the readers of this blog. Sorry if you've read it already.

    Bastoy: The Norwegian prison that works.

    Its on line by the way, sorry.

  10. UNISON are calling for a protest by probation to coinside with Grayling advertising the service for sale.
    The Hartlepool Mail also has a story today,
    "Hartlepool MP to hand in petition against probation privatisation".
    It doesn't fill me with much hope I'm affraid, and the comments the article attracts are not very supportive either.
    Can the protest promise better?

  11. Sexual abuse allegation involves Serco in another Police Enquiry.

  12. Interesting article about oasys in "Inside Times" which states that it is generally accepted to be one of the finest assessment systems in the world !" You had best not read it Jim as it will have you spitting feathers. Jist of it seems to be encouraging offenders to challenge through legal aid system. Crikey what if.........wouldn't stop our privitisation but might put a spoke in the feathering own nest brigade particularly those who have been compiling them lately without interview

    1. Of course, in the the new world thats being created by this government, oasys will be applied to the whole popultion en mass. Creadit ratings, car insurance, employment, the whole lot will be decided by your own personal oasys.
      However on the up side, the completion of said documents would be privatised.

    2. I stick by my assessment - OASys is a pile of shite!

    3. Would anyone be interested to know that the Washington Naval yard where at least 4 people have been killed today employ G4S as security?

    4. Re comment at 20:11

      Theres actually 12 dead and I feel uncomfortable now having made the comment. I've been looking at global complaints regarding G4S and Serco for most of the day, basically compiling reasons for why, on moral grounds, they should be excluded from bidding for probation work.
      I googled G4G and washington naval yard and saw the conection and posted it without a thought.
      It now feels quite insensitive and wrong.
      I'd like to appologise to all readers for any distaste or upset my comment may have caused them.

  13. Probation would appear to have a friend in the Cleveland police comissioner.
    Darlington & Stockton times carries an article,
    "Cleveland police comissioner criticises government plans".
    He's clearly against TR.

    I missed an article in Fridays morning star which claims that the government admit that on top of the recent prisoner transport fiasco, they also pay out an extra £3m a year to move prisoners by taxis. Contractors wont do these transports because of rigid contract terms.

    And a wonderful story in todays daily mirror that highlights just how improved the CJS has become.
    A young offender in Worstershire who had been arrested and put before a magistrate having been on the run for several months after failing to appear regarding breach of his community order was sentenced to 16 weeks yoi. However, due to cut backs the magistrate cells are closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the custody staff man the Crown Courts over the road.
    As a result the young offender was asked to hang around the court and not go anywhere until someone could arrange some transport to take him to prison! While he was waiting for a prison van to come from Wolverhampton to ferry him to Glen Pava in Leicestershire he gave an interview to a court reporter stating he couldn't be bothered getting off as he only had 8 weeks to do. I may as well stay and do it now.
    I read this blog daily, I'm quite addicted to it really, and though it focuses on probation issues, I cant help but feel that the whole criminal justice system, every little bit of it is in total disarray.