Before I examine the issue of electronic tagging I would like to offer my belated congratulations to the Chief Executive of Serco, Chris Hyman, who was given a CBE in 2010 for services to business and charity. An evangelical Christian he is obviously a man of conviction in his words,
“We are meant to be known by the 5,000 not the five billion. The people who serve the people need to choose who supplies the service. We are delighted when the public knows who we are, but really, we need to be known by the people who make decisions.”
Although his company is British, has Lloyds TSB and Barclays amongst its shareholders and regularly rakes in a pre-tax profit of £302 million,Mr Hyman would prefer that his company keep a low profile. This might explain why G4S has promotional literature strewn all over youtube and the internet, whereas it is harder to find promotional data on Serco, they are a discreet government services company. Kind of like the security services company formerly known as Black Water and also run by an evangelical Christian (there’s a pattern emerging here I can sense it).
In fact were it not for Chris Grayling’s budget slicing profile,and the brutal manner in which he has tackled the legal aid budget, Serco would have gone blithely on its way and we would never have known about Julien Chautard, the arsonist who made his escape from Pentonville prison in 2009, clinging to the underside of a Serco prison van. Or about the prisoners being escorted to court in black cabs as opposed to secure prison vans (in 2011). Nor would any one evince the slightest bit of interest in a German-born criminal (Carlo Kohl) with a history of violence escaping the custody of his two Serco employed guards (in 2013), who incidentally had been told nothing about his propensity for violence nor his previous addiction to drugs.
We would also know next to nothing about the overcharging of the British government by this British business to the tune of 50 million pounds. It would seem that the staunch Christian principles of Serco’s boss have failed to influence the manner in which the
company does business. For not only has the company been failing to adequately monitor the 8,000 offenders it was given charge of; it has also been charging the government for offenders who were dead, returned to prison or before the courts, in short prisoners who were never electronically tagged. In the words of Nils Pratley, ‘Have G4S and Serco knowingly ripped off tax-payers? Was it a scam?’ Given that these are both respected and well known government services providers it would appear so.
SFO to Investigate Security Firms Over Electronic Tagging
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary, has repeatedly stressed a value for money approach, attempting to strip away costs in areas of the criminal justice system that might well have warranted investment. Serco it seems has been contractually indulged reinforcing the assumption made by most of the electorate that privatization isn’t so much about cost effective practices and efficiency. What it’s really about is greed and incompetence on a global scale.
As for the wearers of the ‘Peckham Bracelets’ they have been handed a sloppy service that was supposed to either help them reintegrate into society or serve as a cheaper and more effective alternative to them serving time within a prison. It has done neither and may very well have led to re-offending since in a significant number of cases the electronic tags they were fitted with malfunctioned.
‘Waste of money and that’s coming from a family who has experienced it! More fool the Criminal Justice System!’
– ‘Chelsea’ wife of a tagged ex-offender
‘My man was tagged last year and it never worked! His curfew was from 7pm to 7am. I’m not being funnybut how does this prevent crime?’
Sadiq Khan on G4S & Serco Newsnight