G4S, Brewery, Pissup

Well it doesn’t seem like they can.

If my interpretation of today’s news is correct HM Inspectors have absolutely slated G4S’ running of HMP Oakwood. It’s a nice, modern building,  not a Pentonville or a Brixton, but is still a shambles.

Attention-grabbing headlines include “It’s easier to get drugs than soap”, “Prisoners could not get a toilet roll”

On this evenings Regional News I even heard G4S’ running of the prison branded a disgrace!!

So the company that failed so spectacularly and publicly at the Olympic Games last year, and then found itself facing a criminal investigation for alleged fraud in a government contract has now seemingly failed again.

And apparently it’s still OK for them to bid for more, new government contracts cos Chris Grayling said it was OK.

It wasn’t so very long ago that this company was a firm favourite to benefit from some Police Service outsourcing. James P warned us all about that and look what happened to him, but what if he was right?

Does this company really have the appearance of a fit and proper company to be involved in any aspect of the Police/Judicial/Penal function? I don’t know the answer to that but I have my own opinion.  It’s just a shame that nobody who matters wants to hear it.

101 Things We Should Never Forget

Well maybe not quite 101, but I’m sure you get the idea.

When you reach my ripe old age the grey matter isn’t as sharp and efficient as it once was, so I find it helpfulo to write things down so I don’t forget.

Here’s my list of things I don’t want to forget, please feel free to add your own in the comments at the bottom if you feel I might benefit from them.

THE NHS IS SAFE IN OUR HANDS – funny that because I thought it seemed like it was being dismantled and sold off, but it must be true Camoron said so and I mustn’t forget.

Tom Winsor never got paid for his far-reaching reports – I must have missed something somewhere because people ALWAYS want to be paid for work they’ve done, don’t they?

Tom Winsor was appointed Chief Inspector HMIC despite having no previous (or current) policing experience. I’m sure there’s no connection between these two, it just seemed convenient to list them both together.

Andrew Mitchell MP never said ‘Pleb’ He refuses to tell us what he did say, but he never said ‘Pleb’. Although he did feel it prudent to resign his Cabinet post a month later.

Andrew Mitchell MP is offered the post of UK European Commissioner at a salary approximately TWICE that of his Cabinet post.  Well, that’s the most recent story I heard, and absolutely nothing to do with the above.

G4S made an absolute shambles of their commitment to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

G4S and Serco face a multi million pound fraud enquiry into alleged charging for non-existent services in relation to Electronic Tags.

G4S and Serco are both able to bid for new Government contracts despite being subject of an ongoing fraud enquiry.

The 6 day a week service of the Royal Mail is enshrined in law and is therefore protected.

Pension conditions for existing members are protected by law and therefore safe. That’s why the government changed the law, so that they could change the conditions, so must remember not to be taken in by promises that something is protected.

Coastguard Stations will remain open until at least 2015, said David Camoron. Apparently this was a drafting mistake in his letter and he didn’t really mean it.

The Police have only ONE Target and that is to cut crime, said Theresa May.  Police and Crime Commissioners think otherwise, have over-ruled Theresa May and set a whole raft of targets for Police Forces to meet.

There will be NO Frontline cuts. Damn good job too, my dog’s got fleas and needs dome Frontline, shame they won’t reduce the price though.

There will be no Tuition Fees – well we all know where that one went.

There will be no increase in VAT – not since they raised it to 20% anyway.  As an aside to this VAT in France is dual band, 19.6% for most things, and 5.5% for renovation works (i.e. building work on a property you have owned for more than 2 years), cafes, restaurants and numerous others. Certainly helped to kick-start the economy and get people back into restaurants and have work done to their houses.

We will provide 3,000 extra Police Officers – still waiting for them to turn up, late on Parade.

There will be no bonuses for Bank Directors – Bankers are even being given bonuses for making a loss, what chance do we stand with that one?

That’s about all my ageing brain can think of at the moment, if I think of any more howlers I’ll certainly add them, but as I said at the beginning, please feel free to add your own.

G4$ – Integrity or No Integrity?

Blimey, three blogs in three days, my quill needs a rest.

I am grateful to my old sparring partner @DrinkyMcEyeball for bringing this matter from July to my attention.  I don’t know how I missed it, this juicy news titbit must have been buried beneath something far more mundane.

G4$, who are they? As far as I can recall they are the combination of Group 4 and Securicor, two companies who made their names (and fortunes no doubt) ferrying large quantities of cash around the UK in armoured Transits in a time when Jack Reagan ruled the roost.

As far as I’m concerned both companies were quite good at doing that, and, personally, I have no criticisms of their performance in that sector.  Fast Forward to today and we have two companies merged into one, and Mr Angry has clearly missed something somewhere along the way.  The G4$ website boasts this

“G4S has the international reach and resources to meet the security needs of the global age

Our broad geographic reach

G4S has a unique global footprint with operations in over 120 countries, including a strong presence in higher growth developing markets.

We have more than 620,000 employees worldwide, making G4S one of the worlds largest private employers.

Whether you require a security solution in one location or across multiple continents, our global experience is always on hand to bring you advantages.”

A tad more comprehensive than a fleet of ageing Transit vans, and good luck to them.

Then we get this


Securing the delivery of government services and promises – at home and abroad

Societies cannot thrive and prosper if people are not safe and secure.

From dealing with the threat of international terrorism to safeguarding their assets, governments today face an ever-changing set of security challenges.

G4S plays an important role in society by helping to ensure that governments are able to meet the expectations of their citizens, employees and legislative bodies – and by delivering tangible benefits within strict budgetary limits.

At G4S, we draw on our global experience of working with governments to secure government buildings and key assets around the world, support the justice and security strategies of nations and ensure that government personnel are well prepared to operate in some of the world’s conflict hotspots.

As a result, governments are better able to protect critical assets, deliver essential government services and effectively manage the increasing constraints on government expenditure.”

Clearly a global business with government contracts at the heart of their Business Plan.

All this and much, much more is freely available of the G4S Website, but that is not why I’m troubling my quill this morning.  Drinky brought to my attention a news item from July 2013 entitled

Concealment and trickery – that’s G4S children’s homes

My first reaction (sorry G4$ I was a bit judgemental here) was WTF do they know about running children’s homes? I very soon realised that was not the point of the article.

A man called Simon Herbert allegedly put in a planning application to convert a house into a children’s home in Buckinghamshire. The house stands in Vale Road, Aylesbury, on a mixed estate of mostly owner-occupiers. Herbert gave the local planning authority his residential address, 27 miles away, in the village of Lidington near Milton Keynes.

But the children’s home provider wasn’t Simon Herbert, the man from a village up the road. It was G4S, the world’s largest security company headquarters Crawley, close to Gatwick Airport. The G4S name did not appear on the planning application. Simon Herbert is in fact the commercial director of G4S Children’s Services.

That wasn’t the only odd thing about it.

A Supporting Statement purporting to come from ‘Childrens Services‘ was sent to Aylesbury Vale District Council.

It’s on the Council’s website for members of the public to read. The document bears a cheery logo — four smiley faces, and the slogan “Caring for Children”.

Amid eight positive pages, it claims: “Both Local and National Planning Policy support the proposed change of use.

That sounds reassuring. Who wrote it? Perhaps the Local Authority Children Services department?

Well, no. The document from ‘Childrens Services’ is by G4S. Yet the company name appears nowhere upon it.

A search for Simon Herbert’s name on other applications to convert houses into children’s homes shows that he’s been busy. There’s an application to Milton Keynes Council to convert a property in Great Linford. And another one to South Northamptonshire Council to turn a house into a children’s home in the village of Middleton Cheney. No mention of G4S.

Company spokesperson Nicola Savage has apparently said that there were four such planning applications under consideration — in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire. She claimed:

It is common practice for planning applications for change of use to be made in an individual’s name, and in fact the vast majority of applications for Children’s Homes are made in this way. There are also commercial considerations which mean we would prefer our competitors are not informed of our plans.”

The Children Act, Guidance and Regulations, Volume 5, Children’s Homes, 2011 ) apparently places a requirement on all providers to take into account the location of similar services in the area when considering the location of new children’s homes.

That’s going to be difficult if they are secretive about it.

One of the local residents had this to say on the matter;

“G4S tried to fly under the radar by using an employee’s name on the planning application, they have fabricated claims about traffic movements on the application and they say that residents were consulted about the home. In fact the residents held a privately funded meeting and invited G4S to speak, otherwise there would have been NO contact whatsoever! The saga continues, but the moral of this story is study all Planning Notices with care as G4S could be entering your lives by using their under hand, bullying tactics!”

As a complete aside to the above, G4S Children’s Services Manager for Safety Health & Environment is one Dave Beadnall. Nine years ago Beadnall was one of three G4S guards involved in the fatal restraint of youngster Gareth Myatt at Rainsbook Secure Training Centre near Rugby.

I don’t really have a strong view on who runs Children’s Homes, just so long as they know what they’re doing and can provide a quality service, but this would appear to be yet another example of insidious privatisation eroding public services, but that’s just the way I see it, the reality may be different.

My main concerns are twofold;

1) G4$ had an absolutely awful Olympic Games last year. I have no desire to repeat the well-reported problems that surfaced there, but Central Government doesn’t appear to be the slightest bit reluctant to award yet more lucrative contracts to G4$. Why not?

And secondly, to me, far more more importantly;

2) Any contracts, services, procurement etc that are conducted which have any connection whatsoever with the Police Service should be conducted with total transparency and integrity.  Apart from the obvious reasons, I believe that the public look at any organisation connected with the Police, e.g. Police Staff, PCSO, Police Surgeon, Jailers, Matrons etc etc and do not see beyond POLICE. It’s completely beyond my sphere of influence (I don’t really have one of those) as to who gets these contracts, or whether these services should be outsourced, but it’s not at all unreasonable to expect any such company who benefits from outsourced Police services to behave with honesty and integrity, i.e. the same standards as though it was the Police themselves that were providing this service. Is that too much to ask?

Find out more here, here, here and here

My question is simple. Based on the information above, did G4$ act with honesty and integrity in relation to the Children’s Homes? Should they be allowed to act in such a manner when conducting Police business. or indeed any Public Service business?

Answers on a postcard please via the privatised Royal Mail

Call Me Dave to Outsource Parliamentary Protection?

Can this really be true?

Has he gone totally stark raving bonkers (OK so maybe he has).

I read today in the #FailOnline that the Government are considering outsourcing £31 million worth of Protection duties to a company/companies such as G4S.

What the hell does he think he’s playing at?

The fact that he’s even considering outsourcing such duties to G4Salikes proves that he doesn’t give a tuppenny toss for quality of service and reliability.  Has he already forgotten the Olympics fiasco?

If, for one crazy minute, this plan become reality;

It appears that these plans are currently restricted to the Bobbies within the Palace of Westminster, but who knows where it will end.

Will they enjoy the Right To Strike? That could prove interesting.

Will they endure long, protracted, tours of duty without complaint?

Will they and their families tolerate cancelled Rest Days and Annual Leave?

What happens when they need a Warranted Officer to arrest someone, dial 999?

The list just goes on.

…..the policing contract, traditionally provided by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which runs out in 2015,”

I suppose everything has to have a contract these days, but some things you just take for granted.  There has never been an alternative up till now, so I never thought about a contract, Palace of Westminster was just another ‘Division’ within the MPS. Now official documents reveal that a review into the contract,  led by parliamentary security director Paul Martin, is exploring ‘all options’ – including ‘outsourcing’ some of the service currently provided by the Met.

Senior Labour MP Barry Sheerman said: ‘After what happened at last year’s Olympics, it beggars belief we’re even considering letting a private firm look after the security of one of the most sensitive sites in the UK.’Mr Sheerman, former chairman of the Commons education committee, also condemned the ‘over-commercialisation’ of the Palaces.He said: ‘This is the historic Palace of Westminster where the nation’s laws are debated and made. It’s not some Disneyland theme park by the Thames.’Nicely put Mr Sheerman.

Our Well-Respected Peers of the Realm

Is it just me who thinks that Peers of the Realm should be above reproach?  Should they not lead lives, personal and professional, devoid of controversy, ethical and moral. Upright citizens, a role model to us all?  Isn’t that how it should be? Except for Lord Prescott who is a roll model.

And then I saw this Tweet;

@TimesCrime  Lord Reid, former Home Sec, has joined the board of the crome and security consultancy @crestadvisory

I haven’t got a clue what crome refers to, but I know about Crest Advisory.

According to their own bio on Twitter;

Crest Advisory provides robust, independent advice to PCCs, criminal justice agencies, professionals and the security sector.

And that is the beginning of my problem.

Robust, independent advice to PCCs, that’s where it all starts to unravel in my tiny mind.

John Reid, Director, G4S Regional Management (UK & Ireland) Limited
John Reid, or Lord Reid of Cardowan, as he prefers to be known, joined G4S in 2009, having previously been Tony Blair’s Home Secretary and Secretaries of State for Health and Defence. The £50,000 a year it is giving the New Labour hard man quickly paid off for G4S as it landed a multi-million pound, four-year contract to supply private security guards for around 200 Ministry of Defence and military sites across the UK just three months after it took him on. Since then he has been diligent in ensuring the hi-tech security used by his employers is a feature of parliamentary debates whenever possible.

Also involved in G4S is one Lord Condon;

Paul Condon, Senior independent director, Non-executive director Ex-copper Condon, now Lord Condon to his friends, has earned his G4S stripes with the company’s move into policing. The former Chief Constable of Kent and Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police‘s advice and contact book will have been the subject of Buckles and co.’s attention recently. Condon has also worked at the British Security Industry Association and the International Cricket Council‘s anti-corruption unit. According to the G4S annual report, he has a “particular focus on the group’s involvement with sporting events” for the company. And if the potential for conflicts of interest weren’t already strong enough, in addition to the G4S grind, Condon currently spends his time as an advisory board member of Vidient Systems, a provider of “video analysis solutions for security, safety, and business intelligence applications” and is the Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Kent.

G4S earnings: £125,000 a year.
Shares: 2,000

So, what do you, my reader, reckon?  Are PCCs likely to get robust, independent advice from Crest Advisory?

Another, less well advertised, appointment to Crest Advisory was this one;

New Associate: Gordon Scobbie
May 3, 2013 Gavin Expert view, Policy insight, Profile raising (0)

We are delighted that Gordon Scobbie joins us as Associate today. Over the past few months clients have been asking us about how to use social media and technology to connect with the communities they serve. Gordon has joined us to bring the expertise we need to help clients make this connection. Gordon is an experienced leader and innovator with almost 33 years of experience in policing, criminal justice and partnership working.  He has a strong track record of delivering performance in operational and executive roles, supported by an academic background at Masters level and a career long commitment to continuous professional development. He has a passion for leadership, as well as a commitment to developing others through coaching, mentoring and acting as a supportive role model. He has been an innovator throughout his career, recently holding two national portfolios in policing at the executive level where innovation is pivotal to delivering successful outcomes.  Since 2009 Gordon has been the national police executive lead for social media and digital engagement as well as sitting on the ACPO ‘Policing Futures’ Board, with a particular focus on technology and innovation in policing.

Gordon Scobbie should be quite well known to most Twitter users reading this post.

Crest Advisory is the business of one Gavin Lockhart-Mirams.

Never heard of him? Neither had I.

Crest was established in 2011 by Gavin Lockhart-Mirams, who was a special adviser on home affairs to David Cameron in Downing Street for the first year of the Coalition government, though he was usually known then as plain Gavin Lockhart.

Before that, from 2009 to 2010,  Lockhart-Mirams was “the Conservative Party’s in-house expert responsible for supporting the development of the criminal justice reform programme”.

And further back, from 2006-2009, he worked for Policy Exchange, the think tank which was largely responsible for the PCC policy, where he was head of the Crime and Justice Unit.

From Policy Exchange to Conservative HQ, to Downing Street, and now private consultancy, all within four years.

I’ll ask again, Are PCCs likely to get robust, independent advice from Crest Advisory?  I have absolutely no idea. I hope they do, but fear that they might not. There are some very familiar names above, but not necessarily in the context we expect.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Nope, I haven’t gone mad and started promoting parliamentary committees.

But I did get to wondering after Saturday’s blog, “I Am Disturbed“, about the thorny subject of ethics in the Houses of Parliament.

We probably first started to doubt the ethics of our politicians when the now famous expenses scandal excrement hit the air conditioning device.  That has been well documented and publicised so I won’t dwell on it further except to say that old habits seem to die hard with some people.

In Camoron and co’s reforms of the Legal System they have scrapped Legal Aid for several different things, but one that crept through quietly was Legal Aid in respect of challenging government decisions.  Our old friend Chris Grayling has changed the system to avoid the government having to defend itself continuously against ‘spurious’ challenges.

But wait! It gets worse! He has also introduced a £1,300 charge.

Under the new rules, people will have to pay both sides’ costs of preparing cases for a review until it is accepted by a court, when Legal Aid will start to pick up the bill.

Legal aid would then pick up the £1,000 to £1,300 cost of preparing legal papers retrospectively, as long as the case had been accepted by the court.

So although Legal Aid might still pick up the tab if you’re lucky, this will only be retrospective, making it impractical or impossible for normal folk to challenge government decisions in the courts.

Is it ethical to deliberately set out to make it harder to challenge a ‘democratic’ (ha) decision?

Under another plan foreign migrants are to be banned from obtaining legal aid for civil claims until they have lived in Britain for at least a year. Is this an ethical policy or is it a racist policy?

The latest round of NHS Reforms will directly or indirectly benefit current members of the House of Lords. There are those that would have you believe that they will benefit certain members of the Cabinet as well.

One fifth of Lords who voted on Health Bill had conflicted interests

Peers from every party were found to have private healthcare connections. According to Social Investigations’ research, one in four Conservative peers had links, compared to one in six Labour and one in 10 Liberal Democrats.

The Lords’ Register of Interests is updated regularly and exists to chart any potential conflict of interests. The Lords’ code of conduct also states that peers must ‘declare when speaking in the House, or communicating with ministers or public servants, any interest which is a relevant interest in the context of the debate or the matter under discussion.’

However, there is no procedure to stop Lords with conflicted interests from voting on bills. And there is no suggestion that any of the Lords who voted for the Bill did anything wrong.

But is it ethical?

The NHS is safe in our hands
The NHS is safe in our hands

Privatisation in its many guises.  This brings Ministers and Lords into close proximity with companies like our old friends G4S (but not G4S exclusively I must point out).

John Reid (now Lord Reid), former Home Secretary and Minister for Health, Defence and Transport, who went on the G4S payroll at £50,000 in 2008 when he was a backbench MP, is now a G4S director with a seat in the House of Lords.

“Is the Minister aware that the best protection against misuse or fraud on cyber issues is biometric protection?” asked Lord Reid during a January 2012 debate on electoral registration in the House of Lords, neglecting to mention that his employers G4S are big players in the biometrics market.

What else is this company up to? It’s a partner in the private finance initiative project that is GCHQ, the UK Government Communications Headquarters. It’s engaged in “total facilities management”in the NHS, looking forward to “strong pipeline” from the Department of Health. It’s at the heart of government plans to install smart meters in every single home in Britain, with Centrica, O2 mobile and others gathering data for the “G4S Data Bank”.  It’s a big player in the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) market. Its commanding position in “asylum markets” gets only stronger,

I don’t believe that Lord Reid is the only Peer in this position, I just use him as an example of the sort of thing that goes on. Neither am I saying that Lord Reid is doing anything wrong.

But is it ethical?

Finally (for now) – Pensions. Government are forever telling us that we must work longer, pay more in and draw less out. Final Salary Pension Schemes are rapidly being replaced with Career Average Pension Schemes. So it should come as no great surprise to your that our politicians are holding on to their Final Salary Pensions like there’s no tomorrow, and for some of them there might not be.

MPs should face “exactly the same changes” to their pensions as those imposed on public sector workers, David Cameron once said in 2011.  In opposition, the Tories and Lib Dems pledged to ditch the final salary pension scheme for new MPs and replace it with one linked to prices on the Stock Market. What’s more, while raising the retirement age for 2.6 million of the country’s working women by up to two years, MPs have still not accepted proposals made in summer 2011 for their pension age to rise from 65 to 68 while they await the outcome of the IPSA review into salaries and pensions (see below).

But is it ethical?

And then today we get this headline

MPs may get £10k pay rise: But they say: ‘It’s not snouts in the trough – if you pay peanuts you get monkeys’

IPSA believes MPs’ wages are well below those of equivalent professionals working in London such as accountants.According to some insiders, officials believe a pay rise as high as 25 per cent – taking  salaries to £82,172 – is needed to give MPs a fair deal.But it is thought they may recommend a figure closer to £10,000 to try to minimise the anticipated public outcry. Public Outcry?  Would there really be any? A Pay Rise of 25%? Why would there be a Public Outcry about that?

A senior MP said he feared they would be accused of  having their ‘snouts in the trough’ but argued: ‘Voters may not like it, but if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.’

So the establishment that already pays its coffee makes more than a Probationary PC is now considering an inflation-busting pay rise of 25% for itself?  But it’s OK it’s not #SnoutsInTheTrough, they say so. To sweeten the pill for the public they are likely to demand that MPs give up their guaranteed pensions and switch to a less generous scheme.
But is it ethical?
The Oxford Dictionary defines ethical;
  • relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these:ethical issues in nursing ethical standards
  • morally good or correct:can a profitable business ever be ethical?
  • avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment:an expert on ethical investment switching to more ethical products adopt ethical shopping habits ethical holidays.

So I guess my question has become “Are these issues above morally good or correct?”

If your answer is NO then what the bloody hell is the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner doing about it?

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards deals with the application of the Code of Conduct and related Rules that apply to Members of Parliament.

This includes the registration of financial interests held by MPs and the investigation of complaints about MPs who have allegedly breached the Code of Conduct or related Rules.

Key responsibilities

  • Overseeing the maintenance and monitoring the operation of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests
  • Providing advice on a confidential basis to individual Members and to the Select Committee on Standards about the interpretation of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members
  • Monitoring the operation of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules and, where appropriate, proposing possible modifications of it to the Committee on Standards
  • Preparing guidance and providing training for Members on matters of conduct, propriety and ethics
  • Receiving and investigating complaints about Members who are allegedly in breach of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules, and reporting her findings to the Committee on Standards
  • The Commissioner also presents an annual report to the House of Commons on the work of her office

I understand that most, if not all, of the above relate to individuals, but who the hell monitors the ethics of Parliament as a whole? Or is it just that they can fob us off with absolutely anything they choose without fear of challenge or consequences? Because that’s exactly what it feels like.

We’re All In This Together

Two pieces of news have grabbed my attention this morning and they both seem to involve our revered government.

Firstly the news that David Cameron has apparently ‘forgiven’ (insert “felt sorry for” if you prefer) Andrew Mitchell and offered him a job as a European Commissioner. Mr Cameron and wife Samantha had lunch at the PM’s official country residence in Buckinghamshire with Mr Mitchell and his GP wife  Sharon.  Afterwards, Mr Cameron took Mr Mitchell to The Plough pub in Princes Risborough and Mr Cameron told Mr Mitchell he was considering putting  him forward as an EU Commissioner when Baroness Ashton, appointed by Gordon Brown, finishes her term as EU Foreign Affairs envoy next year.

It is understood Mr Mitchell told Mr Cameron he would ‘seriously consider’ the suggestion.

Well that’s all nice and cosy then, everyone’s happy, all’s well that ends well.  Except that this role as European Commissioner (job for the boys?) attracts a salary of approx £250,000 compared to the salary for the Chief Whip, which he obviously had to give up when he resigned, of £145,492, a figure which does include his basic MPs salary (£65,738) which he obviously hasn’t given up.

So with a potential rise in the region of £100,000 per annum these austere times are probably not going to hurt him too much at all.  On top of this would be a pension.  I am currently unable to identify today’s pension arrangements for European Commissioners, but I did find this relating to 2009;

“European commissioners leaving office later this year will receive more than £1 million (€1.1 million) each in pension payments and so-called ‘transitional’ and ‘resettlement’ allowances,”

That’s me sorted then, off out with me bike to go and swear at a copper and maybe (or maybe not) call him a pleb.  That’ll sort my retirement for me.

Secondly was that Mr Iain Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions.

I must apologise I have temporarily forgotten who brought it my attention, but it seems like DWP have already got their rejection letters ready for anyone daring to claim Personal Independence Payments.

“Dear Mr Jones

Thank you for your claim for Personal Independence Payment.
I’ve considered all the information about your conditions and how they affect you as identified in:

  • the “How your disability affects you” form
  •  the information provided by the health professional consultation report
  • the information provided by Jobcentre Plus

I’ve decided you’re not entitled to Personal Independence Payment from XX Month YYYY I realise you have a disability or health condition and receiving this decision isn’t the news you were hoping for.

Unfortunately you don’t meet the criteria for Personal Independence Payment. I’ll explain in more detail how I reached this decision on the next page.”

Until they decide to delete it you can read the full letter on the www.dwp.gov.uk (here) website, and see for yourself how cynical it seems.

On a lighter note, you will see that this Specimen Letter is addressed to David Smith and Mr Jones at the same time, a clear example of the efficiency of whoever drafted the letter.

Finally, one piece of Super Sunday news which does not involve the government (directly) is the news reported (again in the Mail unfortunately) that One in four of the UK’s top companies pay no tax while we give THEM millions in credits in which it is alleged that large, multinational companies including our old friends G4S are paying no Corporation Tax.

The companies who got a credit from the taxman were Experian, RSA Insurance Group, security group G4S, telecoms firm Vodafone, aerospace and defence group Rolls-Royce and engineering company IMI.

If this is true I find it absolutely astounding that any company the size of these are not paying Corporation Tax and to an economical simpleton like me, why are these companies getting government contracts if they are not paying Corporation Tax?

I don’t know the answer, it’s way to complex for me to fathom out, but it will certainly keep me awake at night thinking about it.  Is it right?  You decide.  Rant over

Olympic fiasco firm G4S loses contract to run Yorkshire prison

THE firm at the centre of the Olympics security shambles recently lost its contract to run a jail in Yorkshire and failed to win any further prison contracts it was bidding for, the Ministry of Justice has said.

G4S, which failed to provide enough guards for the London 2012 games, will stop running the Wolds prison in East Yorkshire and it will return to the public sector from next year.

The Wolds prison, a category C training prison holding up to 395 men, has been run by G4S since it opened in 1992.

But it will return to the public sector at the end of the current contract in July 2013, the MoJ said.

G4S shares were down 5% after the announcement.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the Government’s decision to hand over prisons to the private sector was “a mistake of Olympic proportions”.

She also called for details of how the bidding process is being decided to be made public.

“The Government will seek to deflect criticism of its prison privatisation programme by excluding G4S from the next stage of the bidding process, but the principle of awarding lucrative contracts to private companies running prisons on the cheap remains unchallenged,” Ms Crook said.

Something as important as taking away someone’s freedom should only be done by the state, answerable to taxpayers, rather than by international private security firms, answerable only to their shareholders.”

She went on: “Running prisons for profit also means these multinationals cash in on others’ misery, making more money out of increased levels of crime and a greater number of people being held in overcrowded cells.

Private firms are often much better at winning contracts than delivering the goods, but the criteria for these decisions have not been made public.

“This is concerning, as the Department for Transport’s bungling of the West Coast Main Line contract only came to light after Virgin Trains took legal action.”

Ms Crook added: “I am writing to the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms) to request the details of how the bidding process is being decided.”

Any further prison sell-offs should be stopped and an independent review is urgently required, the Public and Commercial Services union said.

Mark Serwotka, its general secretary, said: “The privatisation of our prison service ought to be a national scandal and that this has happened without any public debate is shameful.

It is morally reprehensible that companies are profiting from locking people up and we urgently need an independent review to look at the impact on our communities, staff and prisoners.”


I had never considered this angle before, and whilst I fully accept and understand that G4S (other private companies are also available) are not responsible for the decision-making process as to whether an individual is incarcerated or not, the moral question as to whether it is right to make huge profits out of peoples’ deprivation of liberty is, I think, a valid one.  I was rather sad to note that their profits had fallen by 5% as a result of losing this contract though, not.

Olympic fiasco firm G4S loses contract to run Yorkshire prison – Main Section – Yorkshire Post.

A Warm Hello to Everybody at Policy Exchange

Hi there, we don’t actually know each other but I know you’ve read at least some of my blogs.  I know these things because I get the logs and I actually read them.  So I feel like we’re almost friends now.

You’re in good company, some of my blogs have been read by A4e, G4S, a certain London law firm and even the Houses of Parliament.

So I’d just like to thank you for reading, you keep doing what you do and I’ll keep doing what I do.

Until the next time, adios

G4S Just Keep Growing and Plotting World Domination

In a move that I confess to having missed G4S bought up part of a company called Guidance Monitoring about 18 months ago.  Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t worry about it, and that’s probably why I missed it.

Who are/were Guidance Monitoring?  They are a company formed in  the early 1990s by Malcolm Roberts and John Potter, the company’s current managing director and product director respectively.  They are/were suppliers of offender tracking technologies to governments across the world (Tagging).

After the deal was complete G4S CEO David Taylor-Smith (he’s since resigned after the Olympics debacle) said “We believe their market-leading technology provides the best platform for future global expansion in the offender monitoring marketplace, and we look forward to working with them to build this business in the UK and overseas.”  Malcolm Roberts said “The opportunity to work with G4S teams around the world on introducing this cost-effective and proven technology into new markets is an extremely exciting prospect.”

Just last month G4S won a lucrative £13 million contract to take on Tagging in Scotland for 5 years using this very technology.  Their stated aim is to expand this arm of their business globally.  They took on too much for the Olympic Games 2012, or so it would appear.  They took on too much with Cheshire Custody Services and the Police Authority took it back in house.  Is this another step too far?  According to a recent article in the Daily Mail the existing system – operated by G4S and Serco – is outdated and expensive.  My old friends Policy Exchange are even advocating giving Tagging back to the Police in order to save £70 million.  “Policy Exchange said the current arrangements were too expensive and had failed to cut re-offending. It says £70m would be saved if tagging were done by police or probation officers instead of private firms.”

So the government’s favourite Think Tank thinks it’s too expensive and out-dated but G4S want to buy up a company and expand globally.  Who’s right?  I don’t know, you decide.