Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Another MoJ Disaster

The Public Accounts Committee took evidence yesterday on the latest MoJ disaster, that of electronic tagging. Here's what the Guardian have to say about it:-  

'Disastrous' offender tagging scheme hit by fresh delays

Fresh delays have hit the government’s scandal-hit programme for the electronic tagging of offenders, which mean the next-generation satellite tracking tags will not come into use until early 2019, MPs have been told.

MPs on the Commons public accounts committee told senior Ministry of Justice officials on Monday that the programme to develop a world-leading, GPS tracking tag that was launched in 2011 had been nothing short of disastrous.

The scheme was intended to save up to £30m but instead has so far cost the Ministry of Justice £60m on top of its original £130m budget. Already running five years late, it was further delayed because the snap general election postponed the letting of part of the contract.

Senior MoJ officials admitted that major mistakes had been made in the programme, including a failure to pilot the new development, but denied it was a disaster saying they hoped about 1,000 offenders a year could be tracked when it is eventually implemented in early 2019. The private security company G4S has now been appointed to complete the project.

The current MoJ permanent secretary, Richard Heaton, told MPs that he had been “startled and stunned” by the over-ambition of the original programme, which had envisaged that 65,000 offenders would be electronically tagged in the community as part of their sentence.

“We got it wrong but to characterise the whole thing as a disaster is wrong,” said Heaton. “It is in mid-flight and we are determined that it is going to succeed,” he said adding that only £5m of the extra £60m spent could be classified as “fruitless expenditure”.

There are currently only 12,000 offenders on first-generation radio frequency tags, which do not have tracking ability and can only monitor whether someone is at a particular address or not. They are mostly used to monitor prisoners released early on home detention curfews, those on bail or out of prison on temporary licence.

A programme to introduce satellite tracking tags for offenders in England and Wales was first promised by David Blunkett when he was Labour home secretary in 2004. His promise to provide a “prison without bars” for the 5,000 most prolific offenders has been repeated by practically every prime minister since then.

Confidence in the government’s tagging programme as an alternative to prison had already been rocked by an overcharging scandal which triggered a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the basic tagging contract run by G4S and Serco. The two companies repaid £179m but the SFO inquiry continues.


Meanwhile, here we have the interesting news that the failing CRCs are being allowed to keep the penalty payments imposed for not meeting their contractural obligations:-   

Sam Gyimah replying to Liz Savile Roberts' question about CRC funding:

"Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) received additional funding which totalled £37.15m in the 2016/17 financial year. These payments were made for a variety of reasons and cannot be broken down by CRC because the information is commercially sensitive. Furthermore, agreements were made with CRCs on a case-by-case basis to enable them to re-invest contractual deductions in key areas of the business and improve services. We have made changes to how CRCs are paid for future years so they can focus on activities that best rehabilitate offenders and keep society safe. This additional investment will see projected payments to providers being no higher than originally budgeted for at the time of the reforms."


  1. The MoJ & associated beneficiaries must be laughing their socks off at how easy it is to steal public money with impunity.

  2. Privatisation is like capitalism. It doesn't matter how many times you screw it up, you get to keep trying. The public sector is like Socialism. If anything goes wrong, there is an attempt to condemn the whole idea to the dustbin of history.

    Failed government IT projects and tagging must have sucked up most of a £billion over the last ten years? Why do we let these people get away with it?

    1. The MoJ seem to have plenty of money to splash about. New super prisons, digitisation of courtrooms, prison maintenance contracts and the cost of heating, utilities, and maintenance of all the prisons and courts they've closed. New technologies developed to prevent smuggling into prisons and blocking mobile phones. Recruitment of extra prison staff, more money for CRCs.
      Failed IT projects and now millions of pounds overspent on developing and delivering GPS tagging.
      Were the MoJ ever subject to the Governments Austerity programme?
      Now G4s are given another line in the water to pick up the pieces that another private company have left behind.
      You have to ask why G4s and why the MoJ would award them any contract that contained the word tagging after the last fiasco.
      I'm not even sure if the Serious Fraud Office have finished their investigations into that yet.


  3. major errors, millions of pounds wasted, fraudulent operators, and so it goes on and on. And then - after an appalling record of errors, incompetence and fraud, which is ongoing, guess what - the 'private security company' G4S has been put in charge of tagging!!! How INSECURE can a security company be?? How much longer can MOJ turn a blind eye and keep on rewarding the thieves and careless idiots who cannot be trusted to do a routine job, when they should be thrown into jail.

    I recall 10 or so years ago, when they were given the job of delivering offenders from court to prison, that they lost the odd one or 2 or 3, and also reported to Probation to breach ones who were tagged and weren't responding. But they were visiting and writing to the wrong address in the wrong part of the country!!! What a laugh - NOT.

    The MOJ should be publicly outed,and indeed the Tory government, for being hand in hand with such crooks and shysters, when the only competence they have is in making money.

    1. Appropriating (public) money, not making money. That's for genuine private companies who generate their own profit and whose customers have the choice to walk away. This is theft. Corruption. Greed. Brown nosing. The public suffer every time - criminal justice, education, health, policing, transport. After all, we are only the plebians and deserve everything we get.

  4. Yet more management speak.: the MoJ project is not a disaster – it's in 'mid-flight'. Normally if you run out of fuel mid-flight you crash to the ground, but when you have taxpayer in-flight refuelling there's no worries. Mind you, if they had 'piloted' the project, they perhaps wouldn't have overshot the budget by £60 million – but the good news is that only £5 million was 'fruitless expenditure'. And G4S, subject to a serious fraud inquiry, gets the contract. Meanwhile, all we hear is that 'probation must do better' whilst elsewhere mismanagement is bailed out by the taxpayer. At some future point, no doubt, the MoJ project team will receive an award for their innovative work! - and job opportunities courtesy of all the friends they have made in the private sector.

    1. Yes, no doubt in much the same way after bullying their team into the ground until most of them left, a manager won an 'award' for numerous 'skills'.

  5. I'm pretty sure I read last year that the MoJ procurement team was to receive specialist training in drafting contracts and procurement practice for private sector services.
    Obviously, that specialist training didn't go so well.
    I cannot think of any contract that G4S have been awarded, by central government or local council that hasn't been mired in controversy, fraud, bad practice or just pain old inadequacy.
    It's less then a month ago that G4S were headlining for another failure;


    G4s are serial offenders, and I have no doubt that if they had dealt with properly they'd now be serving an IPP sentence.

    1. Scandal-hit security firm G4S has received 'unprecedented levels' of complaints after taking over a private ambulance service.

      A scathing report reveals it has had 1,700 complaints since it began to transport patients unable to get to and from hospitals in Medway and Kent for free last year. One angry patient reported missing an appointment she had waited a year for, others criticised the free service for being routinely late. The family of a terminally ill man claimed he was forced to endure a day wait to be taken home from hospital, wasting precious moments.
      It follows a chain of worrying allegations against G4S in recent years, as the firm has been heavily criticised for its shoddy service in prisons, detention centres and at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

      Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, which plans and pays for primary health services, has called for urgent action from the firm. The performance report, published by Medway CCG, announced it was 'concerned' and has asked for the issues to be rectified. It said: 'We are concerned about the unprecedented level of complaints regarding the service and the way in which G4S is handling and responding to complaints. The commissioners sought urgent action to rectify the common themes emerging from complaints and to improve the complaints process so they are managed in a timely and professional manner.'

      G4S took over the £90 million contract at the start of July last year, when troubled previous operators NSL opted not to seek a contract renewal. Between July 2016 and this July, G4S received 1,774 complaints, with 1,170 of these relating to lateness of journeys for outpatient appointments. A performance report discussed by Medway Council shows that G4S has not been meeting key targets set upon them.

      The council's health overview and scrutiny committee has been told vehicles and staff are not always sufficient. G4S previously admitted teething problems and in March said it was mobilising more staff to deal with a greater than expected demand.

      Medway CCG issued G4S with a notice to improve in July. An action plan was drawn up which included a review of the complaints policy. It was also devised to revise the complaints process and improve the reporting and response times of the private ambulances. Progress is currently being monitored and as of August 21, 60 per cent of the actions had been completed. The remaining actions are expected to be completed by the end of this month.

      Russell Hobbs, managing director for non-emergency patient transport services at G4S, defended his firm's record. He said: 'We have experienced high demand for non-emergency patient transport services and have taken steps to improve patient awareness of the complaints procedure.'

    2. It is not a free service! anymore than NHS treatment is free, or child benefit and disability allowances are free gifts. G4S are being paid by the taxpayer to provide a social service – and you can always rely on them to nail the lie that private is better than public. They have 'experienced high demand'. Well, that never gets 'must do better' probation off the hook.

    3. The multinationals like G4s have a far larger grip on our society then seen at first glance.
      Scandal and fraud, poor performance with lucrative public contracts always hit the headlines.
      The Paradise papers shines the light on multinationals and there tax details are headlined.
      Yet they still get handed ever larger contracts, and multi millions of pounds of tax payers money.
      Some say these multinationals are to big to fail. Some might be right.
      Much of the vast profits they make from public contracts and taxpayers money is routed into the PFI market and used to build prisons, schools, hospitals etc, where again they can feed from the exchequers coffers on tax payers money.
      They take taxpayers money to reinvest in initiatives to extract even more tax payers money. It's feeding at both ends.
      G4s has a significant PFI portfolio, and undoubtedly they have government contracts for running services within institutions where they have a vast investment.
      It can't be accidental that most if not all the prisons built under PFI are run by private contractors?
      The same contractors with large investments under PFI?
      To big to fail?


    4. Interserve have made a fortune (billions) from PFI so says the WWW. But it's never enough.


  6. Am I right in thinking May's Husband is a major shareholder in G4S?

    1. Vice website 27th July 2016:-

      It should now be obvious that Theresa May's bid for Prime Ministerial power has all been a giant swizz leading up to the handing over of a Government Discrimination Hotline contract to a company that her husband owns some shares in, so that he can smugly watch the tiny-printed numbers rise every morning in his copy of the FT.

      Except nobody seems to have any evidence that Philip May owns any shares in G4S. The rumour was going around the internet for years, but the company has denied it albeit having let it fester for a bit. Despite this, the myth persists on social media, online comment sections and pub chats, resurfacing again today with the less important news that a helpline for people facing discrimination will now be run by a company with a history of bungling sensitive contracts and making the lives of vulnerable people miserable. The good news is, Theresa May's husband doesn't own shares in them, so it's fine!

    2. Cash in while the going is good!

      Guardian, Sept17

      "The security firm G4S appears to have been making more profit than its contract allows from the immigration removal centres (IRCs) it runs for the government, according to an internal document seen by the Guardian.

      According to an outline of G4S’s financial performance at the two IRCs it ran in 2016, the company’s margin on its trading profit at Brook House was 20.7%. At Tinsley House, its other IRC, the margin was 41.5%, though that figure may be distorted by the fact that Tinsley House was closed for part of the year.

      The exact profit margin G4S is contractually allowed to make is not published by the Home Office or the company, but under the original contract, drawn up in 2009 and also seen by the Guardian, the agreed initial limit to the profit margin was 6.8%."

      So an increase of anything between 300% & 600% in profits squeezed out of public funds courtesy of Tory immigration policy, while those detained are abused by G4S staff.

  7. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe:

    "A Carlisle man has appeared in court charged with four-offences of begging in the city.

    Kevin James John Bigg, 33, told magistrates in Carlisle that he was “living on the streets and is now been punished for been homeless” he’s had no-help from anyone, including the City Council to find accommodation.

    Bigg pleaded guilty to begging or gathering alms contrary to section 3, under the 1824 Vagrancy Act.

    The court was told on September 29; October 16 and 18, Bigg was seen by a police officer sitting on the steps of the Citadel, English Street, with a sleeping bag, blanket or backpack and told not to loiter or beg, the court was told he was given a map of the city by the officer and told he could not beg or loiter in any of the areas of the map.

    Bigg was found on October 20 again in a public place street, court or passage on Hardwick Circus, once again he was seen to beg.

    He told the court he was not-begging, one child threw two one-pound-coins into his sleeping bag near the Citadel, but he did not ask for any money.

    “He has been brought to court because he is homeless he said and feels he is being punished and victimised,” he went on to say he was told he is not a priority-case for accommodation, “it’s a bit of a joke I haven’t committed a crime I’m just homeless.”

    Magistrates sentenced him to a six-month conditional discharge with court costs of £85 and a victims surcharge of £20."

    Presumably the poor beggar will have to resort to begging to pay the £105...?

    1. Thank god for the 1824 Vagrancy Act - the public of Carlisle will now be protected from this man's serial criminality.

    2. £20 victim surcharge?
      Where's the victim?

    3. The victim surcharge is a govt tax on most criminal offences and increases in line with the sentence, even where there is no direct 'victim'. The money raised goes towards victim services. Apparently.

  8. Michael Spurr's presentation on probation: http://www.butlertrust.org.uk/paroleboard50/

    1. Great link - and after a quick glimpse I'd say every presentation is merely a rehash of every presentation over the last X years. Risk, desistance, prison, blah, blah, blah. Bubbles Fodder.

  9. "Senior MoJ officials admitted that major mistakes had been made in the programme, including a failure to pilot the new development" ie the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour. Sigh. Presumeably at some point an MOJ spokesman will say "Public protection is our highest priority" Gah!

  10. If "outcomes not processes" is the new mantra, it's a green light for poor, perhaps even dishonest practice. I intensely dislike what this country has become.