Criticised security firm G4S wins Scots tagging contract

Tag being fitted
Image caption G4S will carry out tagging of offenders until 2018

The security company G4S has won a contract to carry out electronic tagging of offenders in Scotland.

The contract is worth £13m over five years.

It is the company's first major British contract since its failure to provide sufficient security staff at the Olympic Games in London.

And it comes as a Commons committee heavily criticised the company for turning preparations for the Games into "an 11th hour fiasco".

The new contract will see G4S begin tagging and monitoring offenders from from April 2013 when it takes over from rival company Serco.

For the first time it will use GPS technology to monitor offenders' movements continuously.

Satellite tracking

This will replace a monitoring system using radio frequencies to establish whether an offender had broken a court-imposed curfew.

The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill said the development would give law enforcement agencies greater tools in their armoury.

"The vast majority of offenders abide by the terms of the restrictions placed on them upon release into the community," he said.

"However, for the minority, we want to ensure we do everything we can to deter them from stepping out of line.

"Now that Scotland has the capability to track them by satellite I suspect many of them will think twice."

The Scottish government said the technology could be developed to give crime victims a warning if the perpetrator was in the vicinity - and could prevent offenders from going into designated areas.

David McLetchie, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: "I welcome the developing of satellite tracking, but it is astonishing that a government which likes to complain about the so-called privatisation of public services is now spending millions employing G4S, the company responsible for the Olympic security debacle."

Image caption The military had to step in to provide security at the Olympics after G4S failed to honour its contract

And Scottish Labour's justice spokesman, Lewis Macdonald, said no contracts should be awarded to G4S until a full review had been conducted into the company's failure to supply the required number of Olympics security staff.

He said: "It is shocking that Strathclyde police had to incur the costs of security at Hampden for Olympic football because of G4S failures and now, with a record of non-performance, the Scottish government chooses to give them yet another opportunity to let down taxpayers and citizens across the country."

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, said: "You'd think the Scottish government would have consulted before placing such trust in this particular company.

"Monitoring of offenders isn't something we can afford to get wrong, and to ignore the track record of G4S just because they're the biggest operator in the market suggests a slapdash approach.

"I'd urge ministers to reconsider before the ink dries on the contract. If this is their judgement on such an important issue you wonder about the other decisions they take."

'High risk company'

G4S came under fire after failing to provide sufficient security guards for the London Olympics, forcing the government to draft in troops to meet the shortfall.

The Commons Home Affairs committee said on Friday the company should waive its £57m management fee - although its chief executive said last month he expects it to be paid in full.

The chairman of the committee, Keith Vaz MP said G4S should not be given any further public contracts until the publication of its internal review of the Olympics. This is likely to happen next week.

He said: "I am surprised to hear that following the eleventh-hour fiasco of their Olympic security contract, G4S have been awarded the contract to carry out electronic tagging of offenders in Scotland.

"It is important the company learn what went wrong with their management structures and correct them.

"In our report the committee call for G4S to be registered as a high risk company. The public sector must take care to ensure that they give contracts to companies with good track records."

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