UK

G4S abandons electronic tagging contracts bid

An electronic tag on a leg
Image caption Electronic monitoring of offenders gives authorities the ability to track their whereabouts

G4S has pulled out of bidding for new contracts for tagging criminals in England and Wales following claims it had been overcharging for the service.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told MPs last month that overcharging by private security firms G4S and Serco had cost tens of millions of pounds.

G4S refused to withdraw from the bids then, he said, but had now done so.

G4S confirmed it was pulling out, and said it would still co-operate with a review of all its government contracts.

And it said it was "committed to resolving the contractual issues raised by the MoJ in connection with historical billing on the EM [electronic monitoring] contracts".

'Embarrassment'

Mr Grayling said: "I made it clear last month that I wanted G4S to withdraw from the competition for the new electronic monitoring contract. They refused to do so then.

"I am glad they have decided to withdraw now. We can now get on with awarding that contract, which will improve the monitoring of offenders and deliver savings for the taxpayer."

He said the government still had "concerns" about previous tagging bills which needed to be addressed.

"As I have said, I will not enter into any new contracts with G4S until that process has concluded satisfactorily," he added.

An audit by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, launched in May, discovered that the firms had charged the government for tagging offenders who were back in prison, had had their tags removed, had left the country or had never been tagged in the first place but had been returned to court.

Last month, Mr Grayling told the two firms that an independent "forensic audit" - a search for possible illegality - should be conducted which among other things would need to examine email trails between bosses.

G4S refused to take part, and the Serious Fraud Office was asked to investigate the firm.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "By withdrawing from the process, G4S have saved Chris Grayling embarrassment.

"But what we need is a guarantee all their contracts with government have been thoroughly independently examined if we are to maintain the public's confidence in their ability to deliver."

G4S made headlines after it failed to provide all of its contracted security guards for the London 2012 Olympics, prompting extra military personnel to be called in to fill the gap and leaving the firm with losses of £88m.

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