Last month saw a very welcome u-turn by Michael Gove’s Ministry of Justice when it announced that it would no longer be privatising the collection and enforcement of criminal fines and compensation.
I had put in a freedom of information request back in July which revealed that £7.8m had been spent on the 5 year procurement project so far.
Labour Shadow Minister Andy Slaughter MP questioned the department following the announcement that outsourcing would not provide best value for the taxpayer after all.
The answer he received today states that an astonishing £8.7m had been spent overall on what was called the Compliance and Enforcement Service Project.
The decision to not pursue outsourcing was sneaked out in a written statement on 15 October. It looks as though there are still some serious questions to answer about where the money went.
It’s particularly hard to swallow as the revelation comes just a day after the Youth Justice Board confirmed plans to cut £9m from its budget. This is likely to see an increase in young people in custody and impact on the ability of Youth Offending Teams to reduce reoffending.
PCS, the union representing fines officers working in the courts, had argued all along that privatisation wasn’t necessary and that the service was performing better than ever in the public sector. £550 million in fines and other financial impositions had been collected in the last year alone.
At a time when legal aid cuts and court closures are cutting access to justice to the bone, this Government can hardly afford to continue throwing money away on needless procurement processes.