Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from G4S Care and Justice Services


1. G4S is the world’s leading security solutions group, which specialises in outsourcing of business processes in sectors where security and safety risks are considered a strategic threat. G4S is the largest employer quoted on the London Stock Exchange and has a secondary stock exchange listing in Copenhagen. G4S has operations in more than 125 countries and more than 635,000 employees. For more information on G4S, visit www.g4s.com.

2. In the UK, G4S Care and Justice Services employs around 4,000 highly trained people delivering services to UK and local Government departments and agencies in a wide range of areas including: Courts and Prisoner Escorting Services; Offender Management and Prisons; Children’s Services; Electronic Monitoring; Transitional Support Services and Drug Intervention Programmes.

3. Our partnerships with more than 500 voluntary, community and training organisations across the UK help our businesses to provide a wide range of support programmes for over 100,000 disadvantaged people each year.

4. We believe that everyone has the right to live and work in a safe and secure environment. In order to help create this environment we are committed to working in partnership with Government, the voluntary sector and other organisations to reduce the risk presented by people in our care, meeting both their needs and those of the wider society. The welfare and safety of those in our care is paramount and we believe all are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.

5. G4S welcomes the opportunity to share our experience and ideas with the Justice Select Committee.

Open Public Services

6. We have welcomed the Government’s commitment to a comprehensive policy framework and a programme for public services reform over the next few years. We particularly support the new presumption that—with some important exemptions—the public sector should no longer be considered the default provider of government services.

7. It is refreshing to see a Government that does not have an ideological presumption that only one sector should run services as we passionately believe it is time to set aside “us” and “them” attitudes that have stifled innovation in public service delivery for far too long. We believe greater competition will have a catalytic impact on public sector providers, from reviewing their working practices to introducing greater innovation driven by a desire to compete effectively with private sector providers.

8. To attract a diverse range of providers to commit and invest in the UK we believe all Government departments should follow the lead of the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions by setting out a clear competition strategy which translates the policy framework into a long term commercial commitment and sending out an unequivocal message to the market.

9. We also support the Government’s commitment to payment by results (PbR) as we believe the default setting for any contract should be to link payment for public services to outcomes. It is clear there are particular services where an outcomes/payment by results approach can be most easily adopted as clear and measurable outcomes can be established (for example in welfare to work, benefit fraud reduction or lower reoffending).

10. We strongly support the funding model used in the Government’s new Work Programme procurement process. Companies such as G4S welcome the opportunity to incorporate payment by results and take on significant levels of risk as long as they have sufficient control of the levers to achieve results and are measured by outcomes not input.

Questions Raised by the Committee

Question 1: How does the Ministry of Justice puts out tenders?

11. We welcome the investment by the Government in a national training programme for commissioners. The skills transfer program that is underway in the Cabinet Office could be expanded to other public sector purchasers.

12. In general Commissioners should focus more on how their procurement process will help achieve the desired outcomes rather than focussing on inputs.

13. We have been encouraged by the rolling programme of competition as set out by the Ministry of Justice and Department for Work and Pensions to give new and existing providers time to prepare their offering and secure long term funding. We believe this approach should be adopted by all Government departments.

14. We also welcome the recent announcement that Staffordshire and West Midlands and Wales Probation Trusts have been chosen to run the two pilots as part of the government’s PbR programme to cut reoffending. This is ground-breaking as for the first time Probation Trusts will be given freedom to innovate, and work together in public, private and voluntary sector partnerships, to reduce reoffending and strengthen community sentencing.

15. Effective procurement enables providers to use their expertise to deliver better results. The new approach to commissioning public services as set out in the Open Public Services White Paper is therefore very welcome, because too often, providers find their actions constrained by over-specified contracts. Delivering outcome focussed commissioning will require more effective market engagement before, during and after the procurement process.

16. Proposals need to be evaluated according to value for money, longer-term benefits and quality of services. In too many cases the decision to award contracts seems to be based on lowest cost. The danger of this “race to the bottom” could seriously undermine the Government’s aim to open up public services and improve service delivery.

17. Each Government department should carefully asses how the criteria to award contracts promote both high-quality, cost effective and outcome driven proposals. An improved procurement process will increase interest from a wider range of service providers.

Question 2: How does the Ministry of Justice manage contracted firms?

18. Transparency should be applied to both in-house and outsourced provisions. The publication of cost with performance against contracted outcomes will be a real driver for reform for all services.

19. This means providing fair funding on the basis of quality, so that public service providers are paid for the results they achieve regardless of which sector they are from, and should extend to all organisations in receipt of public funds, regardless of whether they commission services from others or provide them directly.1

20. The Government should also consider the introduction of more robust governance frameworks across Departments to ensure that all aspects of contracts and relationships with providers are monitored, reviewed and, if necessary, amended regularly and effectively. These frameworks could include:

Departmental contract governance teams;

Professional governance boards, incorporating departmental, provider and external representatives;

External inspectorates;

Internal audit from the providers themselves.

21. Private sector providers are already more regularly inspected than in the public sector and they are often more transparent due to contractual requirements and information shared with the Government. For example:

In contrast to prisons run by HMP Prison Service, privately contracted prisons have an independent monitor on site who provide detailed information on key performance indicators and providers can and will be financially punished if they do not deliver the agreed level of services.

Secure Training Centres have a full unannounced and announced inspection annually by Ofsted, whereas a secure children’s home will only have a full inspection to license it every three years with an unannounced inspection annually. It is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of our staff all three STCs which G4S currently runs recently received an “outstanding” rating from Ofsted.

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) also has an Assistant Monitor based at each STC. There are regular meetings between the Director and Performance Monitor and quarterly contract meetings with the Managing Director—where performance is scrutinised based on thematic audits carried out by the YJB each month against the contract specification. There is also a vigorous performance measure schedule in each contract where we can be financially penalised if we do not deliver services.

22. Another important area of transparency is a clear commissioner/provider split: NOMS for example acts both as a commissioner of services and as a provider though HM Prison Service.

23. The Ministry of Justice is right to emphasise that it is important that appropriate “ethical walls” are in place to ensure fair treatment for all providers.2 This needs to be guarded at all time and a clear commissioner/provider split needs to be ensured when looking at opening up public services in other areas, such as the role of Probation Trusts as both commissioner and provider of services.

Question 3: Can more be done by the private/voluntary sector?

24. The challenge facing government is considerable: maintain and improve the quality of frontline services and drive growth while reducing both current and capital spending. In order to achieve this, getting better value for money through an effective procurement strategy is crucial.

25. Immediate and longer term savings can be achieved by opening up service delivery to a diverse range of providers from across public, private and voluntary sectors. KPMG for example has estimated that 20% improvement in the average unit cost of public services could save the taxpayer £50 billion per year.3

26. High quality, ethical and moral standards are not the preserve of the public sector, both excellent and poor-quality services can occur in any sector. That is why an open framework, encouraging competition between diverse providers with a strong emphasis on accountability and transparency is important.

27. The opening up of delivery of public services has proven to drive down the cost of delivery by 10–30% without a negative impact on quality.4 Introducing competition is a good way to incentivise better control over budgets and greater efficiency. For example, in the prison services the introduction of competitive tendering has been successful in significantly reducing costs, shaking up service delivery and driving innovative practice.5

28. Organisations such as G4S have the experience, interest, capacity and capability to step up their involvement in public services delivery across different areas. To secure significant private sector investment the Government needs to make an ongoing commitment to long term competitive programmes, such as that the Ministry of Justice has articulated, which will encourage both the private sector, voluntary sector and its public sector counterparts to make the long term investments in personnel and resources to deliver the best results to the public.

29. The potential scale and benefits of broadening the diversity of provision are dependent on a high degree of political commitment to see through changes which may be unpopular with some stakeholder groups.

30. Our experience over the last 20 years shows us that it is the first generation of programmes which prove the most politically sensitive, particularly in areas which are more complex due to embedded public sector institutions. However, in our experience once those initial barriers are overcome and a market has been created then the benefits quickly become indisputable.

31. We believe there is a strong case for extending the commissioning approach, as a matter of priority, in partially outsourced and proven areas first, such as:

Police services;

Prisons and the wider secure estate;

Health facilities management and patient transport, both emergency and non-emergency;

Immigration back office and case management.

32. In addition to existing areas, government should consider other areas to increase competition such as:

Welfare services and benefit fraud reduction;

Probation services;

Ministry of Defence support services.

33. To maximise success, programmes must continue beyond the gate into the communities working in partnership with public, private and voluntary sector organisations. It is important that the new PbR pilots announced in the Government’s Green Paper “Breaking the Cycle” support this “through the gate approach”. Public, private and voluntary sectors all have an important role to play to ensure better coordination and successfully reduce reoffending rates.

34. Community Sentencing for example should be demanding and visible, but also beneficial to both the community and offender. It is essential that electronic monitoring and enforcement is used to ensure offenders actually attend their work placement, while violations should be followed up to ensure that offenders realise that their engagement is critical to their future.

35. G4S has extensive experience of electronically monitored curfews; we monitor around 13,500 people under curfew in the UK. This type of mobile field IT system could provide the increased monitoring required and allow curfews to be more targeted and flexible, becoming both tougher and more effective. There are also opportunities for greater use of smarter curfews in relation to those who are remanded in custody prior to conviction.

36. Based on our experience over the last 17 years, working with police and other agencies, we believe curfews can made tougher, targeted and more effective using electronic monitoring and GPS technologies.

37. G4S and our partners within the police and probation services know that an electronically monitored or GPS tracked curfew can be a very effective punishment tool as well as assisting police in solving crimes and making communities safer.

38. A common approach used in Norway and the Netherlands for example is to require an offender to leave their place of residence by a defined time in the morning to attend an appointment, programme or work placement. If the offender has not left at the required time, a response is generated to investigate why the offender has not started to make their way to the required destination.

39. Some countries such as the USA and Spain are using GPS tracking technology for domestic violence cases. For example Cook County Illinois uses G4S equipment and monitoring service to implement a domestic violence program whereby both victim and perpetrator are fitted with GPS equipment. Inclusion, exclusion and mobile zones are established and the perpetrator is court ordered to “stay away” from the victim.

40. We therefore endorse the Government’s call for a more joined-up approach to offender management. This should include using curfews more effectively and build on existing partnerships between public and private sector organisations to improve intelligence sharing, joint ownership of compliance and enforcement issues.

41. Government can help remove barriers to implementing an integrated approach, but ultimately the delivery of local integrated offender management (IOM) programmes should be about tackling local issues.

How are contractors engaging with the voluntary sector?

42. G4S works in partnership with more than 500 voluntary, community and training organisations across the UK help us provide a wide range of support programmes for over 100,000 disadvantaged people each year.

43. Success of partnerships depends on the people involved, a mutual understanding of the partner’s culture, values and behaviour and clearly articulated mutual benefits are essential to achieve successful public private partnerships. Research confirms our experience that partnerships need to pay attention to “softer” non-contractual aspects such as ensuring that partners have compatible cultures, objectives and people.

44. Genuine partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector need to be encouraged, for example through joint ventures, shared risk approaches, payment by results or outcome based contracts. A good example of this close working relationship is the plan for Lincolnshire Police and G4S to work together to deliver services for local communities, with G4S supporting the Police to fight crime.

45. We believe prime contractors should be incentivised to strengthen partnerships with public and voluntary sector. Our G4S Work Programme or our COMPASS models are a good example of this partnership approach as we subcontract service delivery to those organisations that are best placed to deliver those services locally. Combining our financial strength, international experience and supply chain management skills with the local knowledge and expertise of our delivery partners.

46. G4S currently works with a wide range of partners in the criminal justice sector: an example of this is our Strategic Partnership with St Giles Trust who we are currently working with to develop through-the-gate services and improved rehabilitation services. We also work closely with private companies in our efforts to incorporate the Government’s “Working Prisons” initiative with partnerships at four UK prisons and work is currently underway to establish these at HMP Birmingham, for which we assumed managerial control from the public sector towards the end of 2011.

47. With contracts to run six prisons in the UK, G4S has demonstrated that work in prison can be a reality. At HMP Altcourse near Liverpool for example G4S works in partnership with a local SME to operate a strict work regime where around 120 prisoners, out of 1,000 eligible prisoners, work a normal working week in industries ranging from book recycling work to a metal fabrication factory. Within the prison industries they get paid on average £20 per week. Prisoners at HMP Altcourse are invited to make a voluntary contribution towards victim support, equivalent of five% of their weekly pay.

48. At HMP Wolds G4S works with a local digital marketing company Summit Media to allow people to go from working inside the prison to outside through the ROTL process. Summit Media has employed large numbers of these prisoners upon release and even those who do not join full-time have gained valuable work experience and skills backed with the appropriate qualifications. Summit Media has now grown into a successful international company operating in a high skills sector.

49. Restorative justice has a place in both prisons and community sentences. For example G4S has supervised offenders on temporary release from HMP Altcourse in a range of reparation activities including repairing furniture in local churchyards. G4S also provides a team of Community Outreach Officers to Greater Manchester Probation Trust’s Intensive Alternative to Custody project. As part of this project offenders are encouraged to participate in restorative justice campaigns.

50. G4S has been involved with integrated offender management since the initial pathfinders began in 2008, seconding staff into Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester integrated offender management teams. Evidence of compliance with electronically monitored curfews has been used by the integrated offender management schemes as one of the indicators of a lifestyle change away from offending. Where an offender has breached their curfew conditions, the police see swift enforcement of the electronic monitoring order as a tool with which to remind offenders of the consequences of their actions.

January 2012

1 Cabinet Office, Open Public Services White Paper, July 2011, page 10.

2 Ministry of Justice, Competition Strategy for Offender Services, July 2011

3 KPMG, Payment for Success: How to shift power from Whitehall to public service, 2010.

4 Understanding the Public Services Industry: How big, how good, where next? A review by Dr DeAnne Julius commissioned by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, July 2008.

5 Reform, The Frontline, Dec 2009.

Prepared 14th August 2012