§ Dr. Lynne Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints he has received about Group 4 security services in the past year.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
I have received very few complaints about Group 4 in the last year, either for its work with the Prison Service or the Immigration Service. The exact number of complaints could be ascertained only at disproportionate cost.
There is evidence that Group 4 has been performing very well in its contracts with the Home Office. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons praised the quality of staff at HMP Wolds, which is managed by Group 4, and said the prison was "very nearly an enormous success".
The court escorting service provided by Group 4 provides better value for money, costing 24 per cent. less than the previous system. Escapes from escort are now over 40 per cent. lower than when the service was provided by the police and Prison Service, despite the fact that the number of remand prisoners has increased significantly, therefore necessitating more escort journeys.
A recent Home Office survey of customers in the east midlands and Humberside, where Group 4 provides the court escort and custody service, has shown high levels of satisfaction amongst the police, prisons and courts. Some 86 per cent. were either satisfied or very satisfied with Group 4's overall performance and 90 per cent. Of court staff rated Group 4's performance as better, or at least as good as, the service that went before. Some 83 per cent. of the sample agreed or strongly agreed that Group 4 had settled into its job well in the first year of operation.