The Commons spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, has uncovered that G4S has been allowed to bid for further government contracts while being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office regarding £110m contracts for cheating the taxpayer over payments for tagging prisoners on probation and for its improper management of invoicing, delivery and performance reporting. Serco is also being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office as well as by the City of London police over two contracts worth nearly £100m, especially in regard to payments claimed for prisoner escorts.
Grayling, the justice secretary, had written in September last year that “we should not award new contracts for the two companies until we have established the facts about both their performance and their corporate behaviour”. The facts have been established: they grossly over-charged for the work done, yet despite Grayling’s denials they are still being allowed to apply for further lucrative government contracts. In today’s culture, driven by this government’s fundamentalist market values, there’s no accountability – it’s always business usual whatever executives or officials have done. Continue reading
I never expected, having called for bankers, doctors, business executives, MPs, police, media to be held to account for serious wrongdoing by sacking and/or prison in the worst cases, that the imperative for such accountability would be so quickly manifested.
On 26 August Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, was finally forced to apologise, three and a half years late, that one of his officers sprayed CS gas at close range into the faces of campaigners protesting against tax avoidance by Boots in Oxford Street, causing (as he admitted) intense pain, fear and panic. For years the Met. failed to properly investigate this incident in January 2011 involving the use of CS gas in a very crowded area in central London, and were only forced to respond when the protesters, UK Uncut, finally sued the police in court. The deficit in accountability is stark. An apology wrung out of the Police Commissioner over 3 years late is wholly inadequate. Why wasn’t an investigation immediately undertaken and a full written apology made and compensation paid to each of the protesters sprayed? And why wasn’t the policeman concerned immediately dismissed from the service and disqualified from any police service in future? Continue reading
The child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham is a toxic mix of race, class and misogyny. And this was not a handful of girls hidden in a cellar by a particular gang. This was hundreds of young women (and some young men), year on year, being victimised in plain sight. Anybody who took a cab late at night, bought a kebab or knew the families of either the victims or the perpetrators would have had an inkling as to what was going on. But something made them blind to it.
There are people who had no excuse not to know. Attention has centered on South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, who was cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Rotherham council from 2005 to 2010, received three reports about widespread abuse but did nothing. Continue reading
Sexual violence against women and girls comes in all skin colours, all languages, all forms of religious belief. One would hope its tacit acceptance by institutions laying claim to the protection of the most vulnerable lies in the distant past. But the report into the institutional silence, if not silencing of the victims of a Pakistani-descent paedophile gang shows this appalling abuse is not part of our uncomfortable yesterdays. It’s contemporary, it’s here, and lives are still being broken by sexual predators who rape children with seeming impunity. Continue reading
The election result in Rotherham declared in the early hours of this morning was a disaster for Labour. UKIP won 10 seats (+9) to Labour’s eleven, but UKIP won the popular vote with 46% compared with 43% Labour, 10% Conservative, and 6% other. It would take a further swing from Labour to UKIP of only 4.5% for it to win every seat at the next election, to become the largest party on a hung council.
If this result was repeated in the general election, UKIP would stand a reasonable chance of taking all three seats in the district – Rotherham, Rother Valley and Wentforth. Continue reading