Ministers sneak out controversial privatisation during MPs' holiday

01 Aug 2017

PCS has criticised the Conservative government for sneaking out plans for a controversial privatisation of part of our justice system while MPs are on their summer break.

The Ministry of Justice has announced today it wants to outsource the collection of courts fines currently done by almost 150 civil servants.

Two years ago an attempt to privatise all enforcement work was abandoned and a Freedom of Information request by our union revealed the five-year project cost taxpayers £8 million.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service civilian enforcement officers, who are subject to the civil service code governing standards of behaviour, have the authority to search premises and place defaulters in custody, and can access sensitive data held on government systems, including the Police National Computer.

The code would not apply to staff working for private companies motivated by profit, and we share the concerns raised by Citizens Advice and other debt advice agencies earlier this year about the need for substantial reform to protect vulnerable people from rogue bailiffs.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The last time ministers tried to do something similar it ended up costing taxpayers £8 million before being abandoned, now they’re trying to avoid scrutiny by sneaking it out during the summer holiday.

“This work is highly sensitive and should remain in-house instead of being handed to private bailiffs whose motive is profit.”

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