Private outsourcing company Serco is to be investigated by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, The Guardian reports. The investigation comes after the company was forced to disclose a secret internal report revealing evidence that it failed to investigate properly a claim of repeated sexual assaults by one of its staff against a female resident at Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre.
'Government spends £187 billion on goods and services with third parties each year, around half of which is estimated to be on contracted out services'. So claims a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), published last week, on the contracting out of public services to the private sector.
'Estimated' is the operative word here, for a cloak of secrecy shrouds government contracts. As the PAC notes in its report:
It was reported last week that Capita will be taking over the Ministry of Justice electronic monitoring contracts from Serco and G4S in the new year.
Journalist Kate Belgrave offers a run down of recent press announcements and the worrying expansion of punishment to people outside of criminal justice. She speculates that private tagging companies could be looking to diversify to using the technology in the social care sector, for example with people with learning disabilities and dementia.
The Financial Times reports that the Ministry of Justice will put prison maintenance contracts out to tender 'within days'.
The contracts, worth an estimated £100m per year, will cover activities such as cleaning, waste management and grounds maintenance at 117 prisons across England and Wales. According to the paper the country will be divided into four contract areas, with any one bidder being allowed to win up to two of the areas.
The National Audit Office (NAO) praises three new prisons built by the National Offender Management Service, in a new report out today.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the NAO singles out screened in-cell showers and toilets as particularly important. When completed, the prisons are set to house around 2,500 individuals.