Cost of G4S Olympic failure: £13m contract to track Scottish offenders
THE private firm at the heart of the Olympics security shambles has been awarded a £13 million contract to bring in satellite tracking for offenders in Scotland.
• SNP signs deal with G4S to track offenders
• Call for Olympics firm to be ‘blacklisted’
• Labour criticises Scottish Government’s decision
The SNP administration at Holyrood announced yesterday that the deal with G4S to use satnav technology to tag criminals.
The announcement by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill came on the same day that G4S was severely criticised by MPs for the Olympics fiasco, which forced the UK government to dragoon 4,700 troops and police to London to ensure safety at the event.
G4S only told organisers two weeks before the start of the Games that problems with its scheduling system meant it could not guarantee enough guards to secure the event.
The Scottish Government said the arm of the controversial firm that will tag offenders north of the Border was separate from the branch concerned with Olympics security. Mr MacAskill added that G4S, which is the world’s largest provider of electronic tagging, had a “proven track record” in providing this type of monitoring.
But the SNP government’s opponents urged ministers to reconsider the G4S contract, which will initially monitor people convicted of less serious offences. However, it might later be rolled out to keep track of higher-risk groups, such as sex offenders. Lewis Macdonald, Labour justice spokesman at Holyrood, said: “Despite the international embarrassment of [G4S] failing to deliver Olympic security and refusing to hand over the money paid to them by taxpayers, the Scottish Government has handed them even more of our hard-earned cash,” he said.
“No contract should be awarded to that company until a full review of what went wrong this summer is conducted. It is shocking that Strathclyde Police had to incur the costs of security at Hampden for Olympic football because of G4S failures.”
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman David McLetchie 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.”
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, said: “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.”
The five-year Scottish Government contract to monitor offenders begins in April. GPS technology will be used to continually track an offender’s whereabouts, allowing authorities to see if they are complying with any restrictions on their movements. If someone breaches the terms of their community sentence or release from prison on licence, an alarm will be triggered, allowing the authorities to respond immediately.
The company has been running a similar system in England and Wales for ten years.
Mr MacAskill said: “The award of this contract allows us to utilise the very latest technology to keep our communities safe. Using satellite tracking rather than just radio frequency technology to ensure offenders comply with the strict terms of their release into the community is a significant step forward.
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