Tuesday, 11 July 2017

News Roundup 11

It's been some time since we had a roundup of news, but to kick things off, here's our old favourite G4S. This from City AM:-

G4S wins another tagging contract for the Ministry of Justice, despite £109m fraud scandal and ongoing probe

G4S, the security services company which appears unable to do any wrong, has won a new tagging contract despite a fraud scandal which saw it repay almost £109m to the government. The Ministry of Justice confirmed that G4S has again been selected to supply tagging equipment to keep tabs on offenders, although declined to clarify the details.

A spokesperson said the values and contents of the contracts would be released “in due course”.

“G4S has been selected through an open and competitive tender process to supply tagging equipment as part of a suite of contracts required to provide electronic monitoring services,” the spokesperson said. The Ministry of Justice added that it was committed to getting the best value for money for taxpayers, and that G4S has been subject to “stringent requirements” throughout the tendering process including both quality thresholds and financial standing.

But G4S has not exactly proven its merits in previous contracts it has run for the Ministry of Justice. In 2013, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) opened a criminal investigation into the FTSE 100-listed business and its fellow contractor Serco, which led to the pair being stripped of their tagging contracts. They were accused of overcharging the government by billing for “phantom” offenders, including some who were still in prison or had died. G4S agreed to pay £108.9m plus tax to the UK government, after its first offer of £24m was refused and the scale of the scandal was revealed to be much greater than initially estimated.

The SFO's probe is still underway, although G4S's ban on bidding for contracts has evidently been lifted.


This from the Guardian:-

More than 200kg of drugs and 13,000 mobile phones found in UK prisons

The current state of prisons is “unacceptable”, the justice secretary has said, as it emerged more than 200kg (400lb) of drugs and 13,000 mobile phones were found in jails last year.

David Lidington, who took over as justice secretary after the election, acknowledged there is a raft of problems in the prison estate from high levels of contraband to poor security and self-harm among prisoners. The justice secretary also admitted that prisons were not taking on the recommendations of inspection reports quickly enough.

“I don’t dissent from the view of what the chief inspector of prisons has described as an unacceptable state of affairs. There is also too much self-harm in prisons which means we need to deliver better mental health care than we do at the moment,” Lidington told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

He insisted some of these issues stretched back to previous governments. But challenged about the cuts to 7,000 to frontline prison staff under the Conservatives over the past seven years, Lidington said: “We need to get numbers up I do not disagree with that, but we need to do other things too, get better at detecting illegal drugs and mobile phones and using some of our capital programmes to close antiquated Victorian prisons and have new prisons that are easier to manage.”

The haul of contraband, which also included 7,000 mobile phone sim cards, illustrates the scale of the challenge facing prison officers who have had to cope with staff cuts and increased violence over recent years. The prisons minister, Sam Gyimah, said the issues would not be resolved overnight but praised the efforts of staff to tackle the problems and highlighted the government’s recruitment drive to increase officer numbers.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice showed 225kg of drugs were recovered across the prison estate in England and Wales in 2016. The seizure of mobile phones and sim cards helped thwart efforts by inmates to continue plotting further crimes from behind bars, the ministry said. Officials said a £2m investment in technology to detect phones and 300 specialist dogs trained to find drugs had helped recover the illegal items. But Gyimah acknowledged more needed to be done, including the recruitment of extra prison officers.

He said: “I have been clear that the current levels of violence, drugs and mobile phones in our prisons is unacceptable. We have put in place a number of measures to help disrupt this illegal activity as it is an issue I am absolutely determined to resolve. These figures highlight the determination of prison staff to disrupt this behaviour, whilst at the same time sending a clear message that we will push to prosecute anyone who involves themselves in this kind of activity. The issues within our prisons will not be resolved overnight, but we must make progress in tackling these problems. Bringing in more frontline staff is an integral part of that. The number of prison officers in post is on the rise, meaning we are on track to achieving the recruitment of 2,500 officers by 2018.”


This from the BBC website:-

Prison officer: I drink bottle of spirits a day

"Peter" has worked for more than 20 years in the prison service. He tells the Victoria Derbyshire programme about the toll it has taken on his mental health, and says criminals are wanting to go back in prison to make money from drugs. His voice and name have been changed.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said it was "committed to building on the essential reforms that are already under way to make prisons places of safety and reform".


This from the Stuff NZ website:-

Influx of UK recruits arrive to work in New Zealand prisons

British accents are becoming more prevalent in prisons all over the country. More than 50 British prison officers have moved to New Zealand as part of an overseas Corrections recruitment campaign, bringing their experience to prisons around the country.

Twenty-six of these officers took part in a graduation ceremony in Upper Hutt on Thursday, although some have been working in prisons since January. 
United Kingdom recruits that have more than two years of experience underwent a shortened three week training course, rather than the full 12 week programme.

Husband-and-wife duo Rab and Lisa Dall moved from Oxfordshire in December. Rab, previously team leader of the national tactical response crew at Kidlington​, is now senior tactical instructor and makes sure recruits get appropriate training.

Corrections officer Lisa, formerly custodial manager at Bullingdon​ Prison, says New Zealand offers an appealing way of life and new opportunities for her, Rab and their six-year-old daughter. The move was a very "off-the-cuff" decision, she says. Within 12 weeks of applying, the family was planning their move and are now based on the Kapiti Coast.

"We came for the challenge and something new," Lisa says. "Prison service in the UK is exceptionally difficult at the moment, I'd say. It has a lot of issues. "We looked at New Zealand and the prison service and safety is paramount for staff. I think that was a huge thing for us because we felt we were perhaps slightly losing [in the UK]."

Lisa says the general ethos of the job is the same in both countries, but understanding different cultures and gang relations were some of the things they had to get their heads around. Rab says the move has been nothing but positive. "It is a massive step to move from one side of the world to this side of the world ... All the upheaval, all the stress getting yourself over here: once you're here you feel the benefits of it through your lifestyle, and also with the safest departments I've worked across."

New Zealand has a community feel that is lacking in some of Britain's big cities and towns, Lisa says. "Everyone's been really accepting, welcomed us with open arms. And that's not just Corrections, that down to silly things like going to the bank."

Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales says Corrections needs to hire hundreds of new officers to cope with the rising prison population and usual staff turnover, which requires looking overseas to ensure a balance of experienced and new staff. "While we have been heavily recruiting in New Zealand, there is a requirement for us to reach abroad to the UK and Australia and other countries to get some experienced staff over so that they can hit the ground running."

Beales moved from the UK in 2009 to take up a role as Auckland Prison manager. "I think we've got some great people, some really great people. They're going to serve us well, they're going to do well for New Zealand."


  1. After watching C4s Despatches last night 'Secrets Of Britains New Homes" I'm of the mind that as dodgy as the big outsourcing companies are, the government are even dodgier.
    It was a shocking revelation of power and money being pushed through the same legistive loopholes where the only benefactors were big business and members of Parliament.
    If G4S are getting more contracts, the Some MPs are doing very nicely from it.
    If you haven't watched it, I think you should, it's corruption and greed at its very best.
    I wonder how much G4S donate to the Tories each year? Infact, it wouldn't surprise me if the amount of donation was neferaously calculated into the contracts.
    It's disgusting.


    1. This from mumsnet in 2012:

      "Many of you, of course, will know G4S as the company who made a shambles of Olympic Security. Their contract ran into the tens of millions but the were unable to fulfill it. It led to the drafting in of security personnel to help plug the gap. G4S had years to meet their Olympic requirements but they failed Britain. I can reveal, that as a reward for their massive cock-up during the Olympics, Jeremy Hunt has rewarded G4S with a £13,000,000 NHS contract. That's right, G4S made a balls of Olympic Security and so Jeremy Hunt thought it might be a good idea to hand them a 5 year contract to run patient services in the NHS in Great Yarmouth (here). Even when Tory Donor's firms fail, the Tories are still willing to place our patients' safety in their hands. This reveals the true motives behind Tory contract awards and their privatisation agenda. It is simply a method of rewarding their own.
      Invesco are major shareholders within G4S (here). Sir Martyn Arbib has been an executive at Invesco since 1996 and a non-executive Director since 2008 (here). During this time, he has donated more that £410,000 to the Tory Party (here). Other major shareholders of G4S include Legal & General of which Lib Dem MP, Robert Smith, has "registrable shareholdings (here). Lord Taverne of the Liberal Democrats also has shareholdings in the G4S shareholder (Legal & General). So both government parties are linked to the Monster Corporation."

    2. Or this Guardian investigation:

      Two separate stories over the weekend link prominent Conservative Party donors and government contracts worth millions of pounds.

      The Guardian reports that an investment firm set up by two donors has seen a training company it owned awarded contracts with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) worth £73m, for helping get the unemployed back into work. Until it was sold last Monday the training company, Employment and Skills Group (ESG), belonged to Sovereign Capital, an investment company set up in 2001 by John Nash and Ryan Robson, among others.

      Robson left Sovereign in March 2011 but was a director of ESG when the firm was awarded its contracts. Sovereign also has significant interests in healthcare, another area that stands to benefit from government schemes, the Guardian notes...

      Nash, who with his wife has donated a reported £182,500 in the past six years... Michael Gove appointed Nash to the Department for Education board.

      Meanwhile, Robson has donated a reported £267,000 to the party and has run for parliament as a Conservative candidate. He is a director of Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice, which comes up with ways to cut the benefits bill."

    3. Guardian 2015:

      "The Ministry of Justice is still paying security firms G4S and Serco millions of pounds every month for supplying electronic tagging equipment, more than a year after both companies were barred from running the contract.

      Both companies faced criminal investigations by the Serious Fraud Office over allegations of overcharging that led to them repaying nearly £180m.

      The continuing monthly payments to the two companies were uncovered by an analysis of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies which shows that G4S was paid a total of £8.7m between March 2014 – when it lost the tagging contract – and February 2015. Serco was paid £4.5m over the same period."

  2. From War on Want website 2015, who have been highlighting G4S involvement in human rights abuses & succeeded in gettung UN to cancel one (of many) significant security contract with G4S:

    G4S has already come under tremendous pressure over its Israeli contracts and other human rights issues. The international campaign against G4S has cost the company millions of dollars’ worth of contracts with universities, trade unions and banks. However, the UN continues to enable G4S to whitewash its image by allowing its various agencies to maintain contracts with G4S.

    It is good news that the UNHCR has decided to stop contracting G4S, but we still need to keep up the pressure on the other UN agencies to follow suit.

    If you haven’t already, please add your name to the more than 15,000 who have already emailed Ban Ki-moon demanding that the #UNdropG4S.

  3. Could this be the next G4s scandal?
    Pretty long article, but it makes shameful reading.


  4. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/12/new-tagging-system-criminals-scaled-back-ministry-failings#img-1

  5. Bbc news:

    A new £60m GPS tagging system for offenders is five years behind schedule and has so far delivered no benefits, a report has said.
    The Ministry of Justice had said the new technology would save money and be in place in England and Wales by 2013.
    But a National Audit Office report says the plan was too ambitious and lacked evidence it would work.
    The MoJ said it was now in a "strong position to continue improving confidence in the new service".
    'Unrealistic' timetable
    The government has used electronic tagging services as part of the sentencing and supervision of offenders since 1999.
    The technology is used by police, courts or probation services to track the location of offenders and make sure they comply with home curfews.
    In 2011, the MoJ launched a programme to develop a new "world-leading" ankle tag that combined radio frequency and GPS - or satellite - technology.
    It set out to procure the service using a new "tower" delivery model, which incorporated contracts with four separate suppliers who would provide four different elements of the service.
    But the NAO, an independent spending watchdog, found the MoJ set an "unrealistic" timetable for the plans and adopted a "high-risk" procurement strategy.
    The MoJ also did not do enough to establish the demand for location monitoring using GPS, the report found.
    The NAO said the MoJ had failed to achieve value for money in its management of the scheme, which will have cost an estimated £130m by 2024-25.
    The service itself is expected to cost £470m between 2017-18 and 2024-25.
    The report said there was also limited evidence on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring in the UK, with most experience of location monitoring based on small numbers of volunteers rather than typical offenders.
    "The ministry assumed there would be high demand for location monitoring from those who sentence offenders, but did not run a pilot to test this before launching the programme," the review said.
    "It also did not understand the potential financial costs and benefits of expanding location monitoring."
    'Bungle after bungle'
    The MoJ is "only now" running location monitoring pilots to test how the use of a GPS tag might affect the behaviour of offenders, the report noted.
    Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said the system had been a "disgraceful waste of public money".
    He added: "It has been bungle after bungle and now we learn that very little will change after all."
    An MoJ spokeswoman said the NAO had noted were "challenges" in the delivery of the programme between 2010 and 2015.
    "As a direct result, we fundamentally changed our approach in 2015, expanding and strengthening our commercial teams and bringing responsibility for oversight of the programme in-house.
    "We are now in a strong position to continue improving confidence in the new service and providing better value for money for the taxpayer."

  6. NAO report here:


    1. The case for a huge expansion of electronic monitoring using GPS was unproven, but the Ministry of Justice pursued an overly ambitious and high risk strategy anyway. Ultimately it has not delivered. After abandoning its original plans, the Ministry’s new service will now, ironically, be much closer to its existing one. Even if it launches in 2018, it will still be five years late. The Ministry has learnt costly lessons from its failings but significant risks still remain.”

      Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office , 12 July 2017

      So Numb Dumb Grayling has wasted £Millions more of public money.

      Can anyone give an estimate of how much this profligate idiot has cost the UK in his various ministerial roles with his gut feelings, crass ideological bullying & lining chums' pockets?

  7. Timeline of Shame


    "Like greater use of state-of -the-art GPS technology that we’re going to be
    trialling and rolling out, so that we really would know whether a paedophile
    was, for example, hanging around school gates." Grayling in The Sun.

    Satellite tracking will also be brought in and a £5,000 cap on fines set by magistrates will be removed to "make community sentences much more effective", according to Grayling. He will say: "We will use the latest GPS technology to track offenders' movements, and are giving the courts increased powers to set fines that hit offenders in their pockets and are lifting the cap on compensation orders to provide proper compensation to victims."


    FURIOUS Police and Crime Commissioners have rounded on the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling accusing him of blocking the roll-out of hi-tech tags to stop criminals re-offending.
    A group of 27 local crime tsars have accused the minister of putting Britons at risk of falling victim to crime by refusing to allow them to use new GPS tags on criminals in the community... But Whitehall mandarins are currently negotiating a nationwide contract to retain the old-style electronic ‘proximity’ tags meaning the Commissioners cannot bring in the new technology on an area by area basis.


    MoJ press release:
    "Under the new arrangements the Ministry of Justice will have far greater oversight over costs and charging than previously, with direct access to the supplier’s systems to increase transparency.
    Capita have been managing the service on an interim basis since April this year. We will begin using the new tags by the end of the year.
    Notes to editors:
    1. The 6-year contract with Capita has a net present cost of £228.8 million. The other contracts are all 3 years in length. The contract with Airbus Defence and Space has a net present cost of £10.4 million, Steatite’s contract has a net present cost of £23.2 million and the contract with Telefonica has a net present cost of £3.2 million. All sums are exclusive of VAT, which is payable.


    The introduction of the next generation of GPS tracking of offenders, including convicted paedophiles, has been delayed for at least another 12 months, the Ministry of Justice has announced. The prisons minister, Andrew Selous, said there had been significant problems with the project which meant it was impossible to meet the deadline for the £265m six-year contract to begin.
    The previous justice secretary, Chris Grayling, promised parliament that the first satellite tracking tags, which allow for dangerous and repeat offenders to be monitored around the clock, would come into use by the end of last year.


    A problem-plagued project to develop satellite tags for offenders has been abandoned after two and a half years of technology glitches and delays, costing the taxpayer up to £23 million. Ministers wanted to develop their own “bespoke” tags to monitor offenders on release or bail via GPS. But a string of delays and problems has forced the Ministry of Justice to abandon the scheme.
    Previous attempts have been beset with technology problems including losing the signal when the offender is next to a tall building or even under a tree.
    Around £21 million of the £23 million research project has already been spent and officials refused to say whether the department will be liable for the rest as well. Instead, they will now simply look to buy the technology that is already on the market.
    The move marks the latest in a string of U-turns since Michael Gove replaced Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary, including scrapping the controversial criminal courts charge, ditching plans for "secure colleges" and terminating a controversial £5.9 million bid to run prison training services in Saudi Arabia.

    Christopher Stephen Grayling is a Conservative MP.