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The Serious Fraud Office has been called in by ministers to investigate the private security company G4S for overcharging tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging contracts for offenders. The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, said the overcharging included billing for tracking the movements of people who had moved abroad, those who had returned to prison and had their tags removed, and even people who had died.
Grayling told MPs he had made the decision after G4S refused on Wednesday to co-operate with a voluntary forensic audit of their billing practices and to withdraw as a potential bidder for the next generation of tagging contracts worth more than £1bn.
(just to note for those who might not want to realise after clicking, the link is to a .pdf from www.gov.uk)
Two privately-run prisons are among three the government has expressed "serious concern" over, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) ratings have revealed.
HMP Oakwood, run by G4S, HMP Thameside, run by Serco, and the Prison Service's HMP Winchester in Hampshire, were given the lowest performance rating of one.
Performance is shown in the four domains: Public Protection, Reducing Reoffending, Decency and Resource Management and Operational Effectiveness.Overall performance is graded into one of four bands. These bands are 4: Exceptional Performance, 3: Meeting Majority of Targets, 2: Overall Performance is of concern, and 1:Overall Performance is of serious concern.
Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the ratings could provide no more damning indictment of the government's obsession with the privatisation of justice: "Last autumn, the justice secretary hailed G4S Oakwood as an example of what the private sector could achieve in prisons. We agree. The prison, ranked joint-bottom in the country, is wasting millions and creating ever more victims of crime."
Observers suggest Richard Morris's departure is part of bid to rebuild relationship with government after tagging controversy
G4S, the world's biggest securities services firm, has parted company with the head of its UK and Irish operations as it tries to improve its relationship with the government after the botched Olympic contract and inquiries into the electronic tagging of criminals.
With a third boss now in charge of the UK arm in as many years, there was speculation that G4S would be hoping to begin to improve its key, but damaged, relationship with the government, for which it already runs prisons, border controls and work programmes.
The discovery that G4S and its rival Serco had been charging the government for tagging criminals who were dead, in prison or never tagged in the first place prompted the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, to ask the Serious Fraud Office to investigate both firms earlier this year.
G4S has parted ways with the head of its UK division in the latest upheaval at the troubled security giant, which is battling to mend its relationship with the Government after a catalogue of woes.
Richard Morris, a 10-year veteran of G4S, had only been regional chief executive of UK and Ireland since October 2012. He got the job after the previous incumbent quit in the wake of the bungled 2012 Olympics security contract.
he chief executive at Serco, a security firm at the centre of an overcharging scandal, has resigned.
Outgoing boss Chris Hyman said the best way for the company to move forward "is for me to step back".
Serco is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office after claims it had overcharged the government by "tens of millions" of pounds for electronic tags for criminals.