Private prison operator bids for offender tagging contract
THE company running Scotland's only private prison is bidding for the contract to monitor tagged offenders, The Scotsman has learned.
Serco is in the running for the multi-million-pound contract to operate tagging from April 2006 until April 2011. The existing contract was awarded to the controversial security firm Reliance in January 2002 for 14 million and was extended for a further 12 months earlier this year.
Electronic monitoring is a vital part of the Executive's drive to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as Scotland's spiralling prison population.
Tagging to set to be extended to "low-risk" prisoners who will be allowed to serve the last part of their sentence at home. It is also being used on under-16s as an alternative to secure accommodation and to some accused people as a condition of bail.
Serco owns the Premier Prison Group that operates Kilmarnock Prison, which has been at the centre of controversy over claims of staff shortages and negligence. Premier Detention Services, another subsidiary, runs Dungavel House, Scotland's only detention centre for asylum seekers.
Reliance, which is also bidding for the new tagging contract, received adverse publicity last year after it took over the prisoner-escort duties from police at Scotland's courts.
The start of the handover was bedevilled by a spate of mistaken releases and escapes.
Graham Capper, a spokesman for Serco, said: "We are obviously hopeful that we are chosen."
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The tendering process that we announced earlier this year is ongoing.
"We expect that process to conclude in October," the spokesman added.
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