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Group 4

Volume 227: debated on Monday 28 June 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) of 10 June, Official Report, column 297, when he expects the examination of the contract with Group 4 in respect of court escort services to be concluded.

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. John Spellar, dated 24 June 1993.

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question pursuant to the Answer of 10 June to the honourable Member for Lewisham, Deptford [Official Report, column 297] about the examination of the contract with Group 4 for court escort services.

The demands on the criminal justice system and the resources available to it are continually changing. To meet these changes courts open, close, or change their use, and prison establishments change their catchment areas or functions. All such changes affect the resource requirements of the court escort service. It was to examine such changes that the work referred to in my letter to Mrs. Ruddock was undertaken. That work is still continuing (no contract changes have yet been made) and some aspects of it are likely to be concluded before others. At the same time, further changes in the prison population in the contract area are occurring and the effects of these too are being considered.

The contract with Group 4 recognises that costs will vary with such changes in the requirement and mechanisms exist to adjust the contract accordingly. This will be a continuing process throughout the life of the contract.