Offender-monitoring tags can be a cost-effective alternative to custodial sentences, but the Ministry of Justice’s (the Ministry) delivery of the new generation electronic monitoring programme so far has been fundamentally flawed. The simple idea of replacing the contracts for electronic tags was made overly ambitious, overly complicated and has been poorly delivered.
The programme has so far been a catastrophic waste of public money which has failed to deliver the intended benefits. The Ministry pressed ahead with the programme without clear evidence that it was to be operated or that it was deliverable. Its selection of a high-risk approach to procure the new electronic tags, and its poor management of both the programme and potential suppliers, exacerbated these problems. The Ministry of Justice has ultimately wasted a huge amount of time and taxpayers’ money to end up with an approach which uses the same types of tags and supplier it had when the programme started.
Many of the lessons the Ministry claims to have learned are simply common sense and should not have resulted in such a shambolic delivery of an important programme. We welcome the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service’s realism and candour, but this situation should not have been allowed to happen in the first place. We do not expect to see similar failings in any of the other 16 major projects currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice.
23 January 2018