SERCO is one of the government’s favourite PFI firms. Among its many public sector contracts is one for running the electronic tagging scheme for convicts on early release. The company is required only to report breaches of court orders by tagged offenders within 24 hours — fairly simple, you would think — but in a remarkable 22% of cases they fail to do so. While Serco were failing to report one offender’s disappearance to the police in 2003, he was committing a murder in Nottingham.
A Serco spokesperson explained with disarming simplicity that they were so incompetent because “we were not subject to performance deductions” — so incompetence didn’t cost them anything, though it cost one person his life!
Meanwhile, less serious criminals in Serco-run Doncaster prison can expect, according to Anne Owers, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, “squalid” conditions resulting from the company’s “institutional meanness”.