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Government allows private security firm to track offenders

Scotsman |

A PROMINENT think-tank has claimed a new satellite system being introduced to track offenders in Scotland should be directly controlled by police and probation officers rather than private security firm G4S.

The Future of Corrections report, due to be published by Policy Exchange today, said the lack of competition in the UK market when it came to contracts for electronic tagging was costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

The scathing assessment comes just days after the Scottish Government awarded a five-year, £13 million contract to G4S. The contract will start in April next year and involve using GPS technology to track criminals wearing tags on their ankle or wrist.

The world’s biggest security firm, which handles similar systems for the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales, is still reeling from the fallout of botched operations at the London 
Olympics. G4S admitted just two weeks before the Games that it could not provide a promised 10,400 venue guards, forcing the UK Government to use troops to fill the shortfall.

The Policy Exchange report said a system where police and probation officers kept track of offenders and recommended to prison governors and the courts which criminals should be tagged would be more effective.

The think-tank has claimed £883m could have been saved over the past 13 years if the US system had been replicated in England and Wales.

Chris Miller, a former assistant chief constable speaking for police chiefs on tagging, said: “Local criminal justice professionals who manage offenders on a day-to-day basis should be the leaders in determining who should be monitored and to what extent.

“Their current procedural 
exclusion from decision making as to how budget is apportioned, who receives a tag and what for and what happens to offenders if they commit breaches of curfews is at best a lost opportunity and at worst operational and 
financial lunacy.”

Richard Morris, group managing director of G4S Care & Justice Services, said the GPS technology being introduced in Scotland would be “ground-breaking” and superior to that used in England and Wales, adding: “As the world leader in supplying electronic monitoring services and technology, G4S monitors more than 50,000 individuals every day in more than 15 countries.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said a multi-agency panel had found G4S provided the best value in terms of both quality of service and price.

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