Thursday 11 July 2013 by Catherine Baksi
Justice secretary Chris Grayling has asked the Serious Fraud Office to investigate contractor G4S after telling parliament that it and rival Serco had overcharged the government by 'tens of millions of pounds' for tagging criminals.
Grayling said the firms had charged the government for tagging people who were in prison, had left the country or died, though he said there was no evidence of dishonesty.
He said he had referred G4S following 'clear legal advice' after the company refused to take part in a forensic audit of the contract. Serco has agreed to a forensic audit, he said.
A investigation into the way the MoJ managed the contracts would also be carried out, Grayling said, as officials had been aware of the potential problem since 2008 and failed to take adequate steps to address it.
He told MPS that all government contracts with both G4S and Serco would be reviewed, but said that the plans to outsource probation would not be put on hold, despite the fact that the companies are likely to be the main bidders.
'I am angry at what's happened and determined to put it right,' said Grayling.
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: 'Today we have seen what happens when justice is for sale. Given the scale and nature of the over-charging revealed today, the secretary of state should rethink his plans to introduce yet more private sector involvement in the criminal justice system.
'In the face of such mounting evidence of failure, to do anything else would be blinkered in the extreme.'