Examination of Witnesses (Questions 540
TUESDAY 10 JUNE 2008
Q540 David Davies: I have heard it
is very high.
Mr Moonan: Ninety-five per cent
of people successfully complete their curfew.
Q541 David Davies: We are talking
about thousand of breaches.
Mr Moonan: It depends how you
classify it. A breach to us is somebody who arrives
Q542 Chairman: This is a very important
question from David Davies. How many breaches have there been?
You must have some figures.
Mr Moonan: I have not got those
figures to hand. We have tagged
Q543 Chairman: You do not have the
figures as to how many people.
Mr Moonan: I can get those figures,
but I was not expecting to be asked. We have tagged hundreds of
thousands of people over the years.
Q544 Chairman: Will you write to
the committee with the figures?
Mr Moonan: Yes.
Q545 David Davies: There is a suggestion
that thousands have been breached and that those breaches are
not properly followed up in all instances.
Mr Moonan: I can tell you that
we are under a very strict regime of management from the Home
Office with strict KPIs, and we have to adhere to that.
Q546 David Davies: Do you follow
every single breach?
Mr Moonan: We follow every single
breach from the areas where we are responsible. Sometimes an element
of following up that breach is passed on to other people within
the Criminal Justice Agency, and that is not something that I
could comment on, that entire process.
Q547 Mrs Cryer: Mr Moonan, can I
ask you about your capacity to administer custody suites. Your
organisation has apparently said that you would be able to provide
better control of difficult detainees and potentially violent
situations. However, Sergeant Rooney, a very experienced custody
sergeant at Acton Police Station, told us that he felt that it
is, in fact, harder for non-sworn officers to control difficult
detainees. I wonder if you could give us a clue as to why you
feel that you could do the job better than the sort of experienced
and trained officers that are doing it at the moment? Are you
already doing this sort of work?
Mr Moonan: Yes, we provide five
contracts in England and Wales to provide custody suites; so I
can talk with a lot of experience and facts on those matters.
What has typically happened when we have provided the custody
service is that service has been far cheaper, 30% or more cheaper,
and the standard of service has been improved.
Q548 Mrs Cryer: Is it cheaper because
you are paying your employees much less than the police authority
will be paying their officers?
Mr Moonan: Yes. When we train
a police officer, we train them in a wide variety of skills, and
that requires a lot of investment and requires a significant salary
package to have that person trained to that level. When G4S provides
a custody suite service, we train people in the specific roles
for that particular area of police work, and what the police have
found is that we provide a better service because our training
is consolidated into the key things that are required for that
environment and our people are very used to working in that environment.
Typically a policeman is asked to do many different jobs, and
working in the custody environment could be an eight-week period
for them and they maybe do not enjoy that work as much, but we
train specifically just for that role and that is why we have
been able to provide a better service, and our police partners
tell us that we provide a better service in those areas where
we have taken on that service.
Q549 Mrs Cryer: It is considerably
Mr Moonan: It is cheaper as well,
because we pay people for the skills we need just for that role.
Q550 Mrs Cryer: Can I suggest, again,
that it is cheaper because you are paying much lower wages to
your people than the police authority would be paying.
Mr Moonan: Yes, but I would suggest
that it is not necessary to pay someone a substantial salary if
you just give them one part of the police work. That is why there
could be lots of efficiencies from outsourcing. The workforce
modernisation programme, which you will all be familiar with,
talks about segmenting the police work into different areas. Therefore,
you are able to pay people for the bit of the work that they do
and get better value for money and release more police to frontline
Q551 Mrs Cryer: Your people are in
complete control of a custody suite. You do everything. You provide
the food, make sure the toilet is all right and everything. Is
Mr Moonan: We do all of that,
but we are not in complete control. There are still police custody
sergeants working alongside us. At the moment we are starting
to pilot taking on some of the custody sergeant work. At the moment
we provide the custody officer work, and there is still a police
sergeant working alongside us.
Q552 Mrs Cryer: Thank you. How can
technology, including facial imaging, be used more effectively
in custody suites to improve efficiency and safety for detainees?
Mr Moonan: We work with, as I
said, five different police forces, and they have all adapted
the technology to different levels. What we have found is, where
technology has been utilised by that force, we have been trained
to utilise the technology, and it has made things more efficient.
Some of our best custody suites, or where there has been more
investment, process information better. For example, fingerprints.
I was at one of our stations the other day in Staffordshire and
we had had one error in 11,000 fingerprints in the previous period,
and that error was due to someone who had a disability that made
it hard for them to keep their finger still. So the sort of performance
that we are able to give now in conjunction with technology and
in conjunction with the training is very, very high.
Q553 David Davies: Do you accept
there has always got to be a warranted officer there in the case
of a dangerous prisoner, where incapacity spray may need to be
used when cuffs are removed in a custody suite?
Mr Moonan: I do not believe that
is necessary, because we also provide outsourced prisons where
there are no police officers or no Prison Service people, where
we have built, designed, maintained and managed the prison, including
recruiting the Governor and all the people that work inside.
Q554 David Davies: You reckon you
can do it without any incapacity spray on all occasions?
Mr Moonan: We do not use sprays
in the prison environment, so I would not see why we would need
to do that.
Q555 Martin Salter: I want to explore
with the three of you the lack of common solutions. Ronnie Flannagan,
in his review of policing, noted that common solutions are rarely
introduced service-wide as the favourable conditions required
rarely arise at the same time in 43 places. This results in systems
which do not link across forces and a large amount of duplication.
Apparently up to 70% of all information is entered into police
systems more than once; so a significant amount of double handling.
From your experience of working with police forces, what is your
view of providing a common system to all 43 forces as opposed
to tailored systems appropriate to individual forces?
Mr Moonan: Electronic monitoring
is an example where we are providing the same technological solution
and service to all of the forces, and so we know it can work,
but our experience is also in trying to win work from the police.
It is more difficult. We are dealing with 43 customers who have
got different specifications. It is harder for us to give economies
of scale and to give a solution that will provide the optimum
value for money for the police because we have to work with each
one in turn and develop a solution just for their needs.
Q556 Martin Salter: Is this because
of their individual procurement process and would, in fact, it
be easier for you as major suppliers if there was a common procurement
Mr Moonan: We are finding that
some police forces are starting to join together in local areas
and also there are some framework agreements. When those people
join together or when there is a framework agreement, there is
more opportunity to provide a more efficient service, I would
Q557 Martin Salter: Any views on
that from Mr Bobbett or Ms Eggberry?
Ms Eggberry: Definitely.
Mr Bobbett: Yes; absolutely. I
think the obvious benefit of Airwave providing a common communications
platform enables things like mutual aid to happen on demand without
there having to be that: "How do I communicate if I bring
an officer in from a neighbouring force to help me? How do I communicate
across boundaries?" So there are obvious benefits, and Sir
Ronnie Flannagan, I think, alluded to those in his report. In
our view, making sure that you have a common platform does not
deny localisation, because there are local issues that are needed
to be dealt with, but I think starting with a standard and a standard
platform enables you then to build the localisation that makes
the most efficient use for those individual officers but gives
you the comfort of common information and common sharing. I think
we have already done it with the Airwave system and, hopefully,
we can have many more examples of that right across policing.
Ms Eggberry: Certainly. I would
agree. I think there is a great benefit to having a common platform
but allowing for those individual requirements per force. As I
mentioned earlier, a traffic officer has a very different requirement
in terms of the information he needs to look at and input than,
say, a bobby on the beat in a rural environment. I think the most
important thing to do with this is to make sure, as I said, the
information, as you point out, is secure and input once and everyone
has a common view of that, and some of those ROI statistics that
I mentioned earlier, the bedrock of that is that you are able
to cut down the amount of paper work because you are inputting
it once. As an example, the Gateshead Social Services uses that
for domestic violence. They used to have laptops to input that
information into and then that information needed to be uploaded
into the police computers when they got back, et also
a living example of trying to make it easier but not. They now
have BlackBerries. They are unobtrusive, they can enter the details
as they are sitting in front of the victim and, very importantly,
that information goes straight into the police computer; so there
is not this issue of having to fill in paper work, upload data
et al, it just goes straight in. So, everyone is looking
at the same data all at the same time, thereby, again, aiding
efficiency. I think there is a great benefit to having a common
platform, but we do have to allow for individual clients perforce
and we do have to make sure we are cutting down on that all important
paper work trail throughout.
Q558 Martin Salter: This is quite
revolutionary, of course, for some of our 43 individual fiefdoms
who will stagger towards that point. Do not all feel obliged to
respond to this, but the National Police Improvements Agency and
the Home Office are trying to roll out these common platforms.
What practical steps could either of those two agencies, the Home
Office or the NPIA, take to facilitate a more co-ordinated and
Ms Eggberry: I think it is more
about access to funding and how quickly you allow access to that
funding. Thames Valley announced they were ordering 1,001 BlackBerries
last week, and they managed to do that within a two-week period
all the way through from the training et al, and the reason
that they cite is that they are able to get the cash quickly et
al. So I think that the NPIA and others can certainly help
us. I think that is the issue, making sure that the individual
forces have access to those funds as quickly as they can.
Q559 Martin Salter: Thames Valley
is my local force, but it is also a largish force and that affects
the economies of scale.
Ms Eggberry: One of the things
we have worked with is with governments, and whether you are buying
one BlackBerry or 143,000 BlackBerries, you are able to get that
at the best possible price. So this is not a question purely of
scale per se only, it is a question of how quickly can
you roll it out, how quickly can you deploy them and, obviously,
the cost element as well. We have worked very hard with government.