HC Deb 06 November 1992 vol 213 cc527-8W
Sir John Wheeler

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in selecting a contractor to operate the court escort service in Humberside and the east midlands.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

On 5 February my right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary announced that invitations to tender for the provision of the court escort service in Humberside and the east midlands, under provisions contained within the Criminal Justice Act 1991, had been issued to 12 private sector contractors. The contract will cover all prisoner movements to and from court except for those of high security prisoners.

After carefully considering all the proposals submitted, the Government today signed a contract with Group 4 Court Services Ltd. for the operation of the court escort service within the designated area. The signing follows a three-month development phase, during which representatives of Group 4 have visited prisons, police stations and court premises in the area to familiarise themselves with all the agencies concerned and their requirements from the service to be provided.

The new service is due to start in April 1993 using staff who are statutorily and contractually required to be properly trained and vetted. It will free up prison and police officers to concentrate on duties more appropriate to their particular skills and training.

The Government will, in due course, consider extending the contracting out of court escorting to other areas of the country.

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