“I Tag Dead People”

Who could forget the G4S Olympic shambles last year? Well certainly not criminal Legal Aid firms, especially when the company recently became linked with PCT proposals, frighteningly as a potential defence provider.

They were back in the news this week when an inquest jury determined its employees had unlawfully killed Jimmy Mubenga.

Their bad news week continues. Now Chris Grayling, yes that Chris Grayling, has told the Commons that he is calling in the SFO to look at their “tagging contracts”. He says the alleged over charging runs in to 10s of millions, but as we know he’s not that good with numbers.

Fellow contractors Serco have “separately voluntarily agreed to take part in a ‘forensic audit’”.

The BBC report that G4S has a turnover of £7.3bn, a quarter of which derives from Gvt contracts. For those, like me, slow at mental maths that’s £1.8bn.

There are so many issues jumping out of this it is difficult to know which to pick.

What will be most staggering to Legal Aid firms, weighed down by the micro-management, auditing and bureaucracy of the scheme is that contracts of this magnitude do not seem to be subject to routine “forensic audit”. Or alternatively the auditing they are subject to was insufficiently robust to identify problems, seemingly on quite a grand scale.

Contrast that with our shared experience; scrapping it out over £4.10 routine letters on assessment. Getting contract notices for a single bad file out of a targeted sample of 20. On site visits to find out what LASPO training you have been on. Bills returned for the most obvious of unimportant errors and so on.

Positively if any of these potential large PCT providers have a real commercial look at what doing Legal Aid involves one imagines they will run a mile.

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