Never mind monitoring dead crims, Ministry of Justice has just palmed Serco another £800m

All is forgiven!

The Ministry of Justice is to hand over £800m of British taxpayer's dosh to scandal-hit Serco in return for 10 years' worth of outsourced prisoner escort and custody services.

Under the deal, Serco will be responsible for the secure transportation of jailbirds between prisons and courts, and for the custody of them while at court.

Serco said it will invest in a fleet of vehicles and an IT upgrade programme, "which we are confident will deliver further improvements to the strong performance and innovation we have already delivered over recent years".

In July Serco agreed to cough up £22.9m to the UK's Serious Fraud Office in fines and costs related to its MoJ electronic-tagging contract.

Back in 2013, Serco referred itself to the Serious Fraud Office over allegations it had been charging the MoJ for monitoring offenders in the community that were already in jail, had left the country or were dead.

However, it seems all is forgiven, with the outsourcing business yesterday winning the contract to provide the service across the whole South of England region.

That represents "a significantly increased geographical area" in comparison to its current contract – which is for just one of four regions, Serco said in a gleeful statement. The previous deal was signed in March 2011 and valued at £285m.

Rupert Soames, Serco's chief exec and grandson of Winston Churchill, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this major contract to provide prisoner escort and custody services for the Ministry of Justice across the whole of the South of England region. Looking after prisoners as they are transported between secure locations and during their time in court is a sensitive and demanding role and their welfare and security is at the heart of our operations.

"In recent years our performance has steadily and significantly improved, and today our team provides an outstanding service in what are often very challenging conditions."

A few months back, the Ministry of Defence paid Serco £10m to settle a legal challenge over the award of a £525m Fire and Rescue services contract to rival Capita.

There's never a dull month in the world of outsourcing... at least from the taxpayers' perspective. ®

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