New Prisoner Tagging Deal Worth £450M for G4S and Serco
New Prisoner Tagging Deal Worth £450M for G4S and Serco. he HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has acknowledged the importance of learning from past experiences in their new electronic tagging contracts with G4S and Serco. These firms, having previously admitted to overcharging the government by a total of £170 million, are now re-engaged, with HMPPS emphasising that the new contracts clearly define ‘accountabilities, roles, and responsibilities’. The head of HMPPS informed MPs that these new deals, potentially worth up to £450 million, reflect lessons learned from previous electronic tagging contracts.
Previously, these firms had incorrectly charged the Ministry of Justice tens of millions of pounds under contracts initiated in 2005. This included multiple charges for the same offender and charges for offenders who had passed away. Following the exposure of this overcharging in 2013, G4S reimbursed over £100 million, and Serco returned £70.5 million. Both companies temporarily withdrew from the procurement process for newer electronic monitoring devices, though G4S later resumed supplying these to the government.
The Serious Fraud Office’s investigations led to Serco being fined £19.2 million plus £3.7 million in costs, and G4S being fined £38.5 million plus £5.9 million in costs.
Recently, Serco secured a £200 million contract from the Ministry of Justice to provide electronic monitoring services in England and Wales until May 2030, with an option to extend for two additional years for £75 million. G4S was awarded a £175 million contract for monitoring technology, including location and alcohol monitoring devices.
Amy Rees, the chief executive of HMPPS, in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee, stated that the approach to these new contracts was shaped by past experiences and government best practices. She detailed that the contracts with Serco and G4S include specific supplier ‘accountabilities, roles, and responsibilities’. She also mentioned that during the implementation of the new service, both suppliers are required to report progress and risks to an implementation board, which will ensure risk management throughout the transition phases. This board will report to a service delivery board, chaired by the head of EM operations, to ensure senior-level oversight and accountability.
This letter was a response to a recommendation in the Public Accounts Committee’s report from the previous year, urging HMPPS to outline its risk management strategy for the programme after appointing suppliers. The letter, dated 27 October, was only made public recently, following the announcement of the Serco and G4S contracts on 8 November.
Rees further explained that Serco, as the field and monitoring services supplier, would act as the service integrator, managing the end-to-end service. Both Serco and G4S have also signed a collaboration agreement to ensure adherence to expected behaviours and working methods. Senior officers from both suppliers will be accountable for their teams’ compliance with this agreement and will participate in the service delivery board.
The Public Accounts Committee’s report from last year highlighted several concerns about HMPPS and the Ministry of Justice’s management of tagging, including the waste of £98.2 million on a cancelled Gemini case-management system and the lack of rigorous evaluation of tagging’s impact on reoffending rates. As of March of the previous year, approximately 15,300 offenders were under electronic tagging, as per the report.