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Guess who's just locked up £1.5bn Australian prison mega-contract? Our very own Serco

UK prisoner escort scandal? They paid that money back!

Business Process Outsourcing behemoth Serco is part of the NewPathways consortium that will sketch out, erect and run the largest prison in Australia under a mega-contract dished out today.

The collection of companies also includes Aussie building firm John Holland, project management biz John Laing and investment banker Macquarie.

The New Grafton Correctional Facility, managed under a licence from the state of New South Wales, is expected to create 1,100 jobs during construction and 550 permanent jobs with Serco from 2020.

The good news for taxpayers down under is that £1.5bn of their hard gotten gains will be handed to Serco over two decades.

NGCF is expected to house a 1,000-bed and 300-bed maximum security block for men and women respectively, and a 400-bed minimum security wing just for the male of the species.

Without a hint of irony, Serco said the contract “draws” on its “experience” of running prisons in the UK – clearly the relevant authorities in Australia didn’t see the local mess caused by Serco.

In 2013, the BPO specialist was probed by the British police for suspected fraud over claims about the numbers of criminals it was ferrying to and from the clink. And its convict-tagging business was branded unreliable.

The City of London police dropped the prison escort case in late 2014, claiming there was “no evidence of a corporate-wide conspiracy or an intention to falsify numbers”. Serco had agreed to repay all past profit and pass on future earnings from the contract. So that cleared that up then.

The former European CEO Jeremy Stafford left the firm amid the investigation and was replaced by Rupert Soames, brother of fat cat Tory Nicholas and grandson to Winston Churchill.

In a statement issued today, Soames said the contract marked “expansion of our international Justice business, and by total contract value it also represents Serco’s largest ever contract”.

He also talked about "safeguarding society and reducing reoffending", which spoke its "strength in delivering best practice", particularly in regard to "rehabilitation, reintegration, education and training programmes". ®


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