G4S and Serco continue to dominate criminal justice market

Monday, 29 June 2015

Controversial security companies G4S and Serco received more than seven pounds in every ten spent by the government on prison and probation-related contracts in the four years to April 2014, according to new research by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies published today. The research, published in the fourth edition of UK Justice Policy Review, is based on analysis of Ministry of Justice transparency data.

In the four years to April 2014, the National Offender Management Service paid G4S £927 million, and Serco £829 million, for prison and probation-related contracts: more than 70 per cent of the nearly £2.5 billion spent by NOMS during this period.

The Ministry of Justice cancelled G4S and Serco's electronic monitoring contracts, following allegations that the companies had overcharged on them for many years. Both companies are currently under criminal investigation. Yet last week the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies revealed that G4S and Serco continue to be paid millions of pounds for electronic tagging work, more than a year after the companies' contracts were supposed to have been cancelled.

Now in its fourth year, UK Justice Policy Review tracks year-on-year developments in criminal justice and social welfare across the UK. It is produced with the support of The Hadley Trust.

Other content in the fourth edition of UK Justice Policy Review​ includes:

  • The first UK-wide analysis of suicide, self-harm and assaults in prisons in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Suicides and assaults grew sharply in England and Wales between 2013 and 2014, adding to concerns that funding cuts and rising prisoner numbers are contributing to growing misery and conflict.
  • An analysis of criminal justice expenditure, staffing and caseloads across the UK. Criminal justice expenditure fell by 18 percent between 2010 and 2014. Staffing levels across the police, prisons and probation also fell. Scotland bucked the UK trend, with rising expenditure and staffing levels.
  • A review of the privatisation of probation in England and Wales and the creation of the new Community Rehabilitation Companies.
  • An assessment of the first year of operations of the single Scottish police force: Police Scotland.
  • An overview of the disputes over criminal legal aid across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Richard Garside, Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and one of the report authors, said:

'It is a strange world where the companies charged with tagging criminals are themselves under criminal investigation. Despite all the controversy associated with G4S and Serco, they remain the dominant private sector contractors in criminal justice. Both companies allegedly overcharged the government for electronic tagging. Yet the Ministry of Justice continues to pay them millions of pounds a year for tagging work.

'UK Justice Policy Review offers the only accessible overview of criminal justice developments across the United Kingdom's three criminal justice jurisdictions. Whether you're interested in policing developments in Scotland, prison policy in Northern Ireland, probation privatisation in England and Wales, or other criminal justice developments, UK Justice Policy Review offers the key facts, figures and analysis that help to make sense of a fast-changing policy environment'.