Security firm in the dock over prisoners’ late arrival

Security firm G4s has been told to account for itself at Lerwick Sheriff Court or risk fines following its failure to bring prisoners to court on time twice this week.

Sheriff Philip Mann said it was “highly unsatisfactory” after three hearings were delayed yesterday.

He has ordered a G4S representative to come before the court on August 5th to explain why the three prisoners, being flown up from south were not at the court on time.

If found to be in contempt of court, the security firm could face fines for holding up the legal process.
There was a similar delay on Wednesday when Jamie Niell was taken from custody to court.
Niell was due in court at 10am but his case was only heard around 12.40pm as he had not been put on a plane till 9.50am.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that G4S had taken a “unilateral decision” that the prisoner would not be taken up in time for his trial.

Sheriff Philip Mann said the defendant was entitled to have his hearing timeously and it was unfair for a delay to potentially impact his liberty. It was especially galling given the lengthy discussions that had taken place with G4S before.

And on Thursday court began at 10am but the cases did not come before the sheriff until 12.45pm
A spokesman for G4S said that a “welfare issue” for the prisoner may have prompted the delay and the court had been told about this.

He added: “HMP Grampian is an hour from Aberdeen airport and consequently prisoners are required to leave the prison at 4.30am to make early morning flights. In exceptional circumstances prisoners may be placed on later flights for welfare reasons, and in this instance the court was informed of that decision.”

Regarding yesterday’s delay, he said: “We had to transfer three prisoners from HMP Grampian to Shetland on flights from Aberdeen airport and it’s often the case there are not sufficient seats available on early morning flights for both prisoners and the requisite number of staff required to transport them (in this case four, in addition to the prisoners). In these situations we have no choice but to fly prisoners when capacity allows and the court was informed of that decision.”

Last year sheriff Mann upbraided G4S for several failures to bring prisoners to court in Lerwick on time.

Inquiry: Tavish Scott

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said that he shared sheriff Mann’s irritation that G4S had “failed the Scottish Justice system costing the court both valuable time and money.”

He added: “I will be writing to the Scottish Justice Minister, Michael Matheson urging him to start an inquiry into these failings.

“I am disappointed that despite the SNP mantra to keep services in public hands, they appointed G4S despite the company’s many public failings. This is not the first time that Lerwick Sheriff Court has been disrupted by G4S inability to carry out their contractual duties. Everyone also remembers the shambles of security at the London Olympics.

“I do not understand why, if G4S were not suitable to help run the successful commonwealth games in Glasgow, the justice system in Shetland should continue to suffer from a sub-standard service. It is time the SNP Government looked into their own responsibilities”.


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • July 25th, 2015 3:53

    The wonders of private businesses getting involved in issues which should not, under any circumstances, be under the principle where profit, greed and selfishness is the agenda and not actually providing a save, secure and cost effective service under the guise of public safety.

    G4S, like Serco, were given heavy fines (allegedly…..probably equivalent to small slap on the wrist) for irregular expenses claims to the Government, where, in affect (like all private businesses) lying, deceiving and cheating to gain higher profits and income is the name of the game in a greed orientated capitalist society (which the vile Tories endorse, encourage and support) ……in this case, from the Tax Payer.

    No doubt, G4S will just get another slap on the wrist, if at all. However, I suspect the vile Tories will support the private company (just like they support Serco with all the Government contracts Serco are getting (same scenario with the vile Tories private schools, where teachers do not have to have any qualifications at all to teach this would bite into profits having qualified teachers, wouldn’t it)) and a very much reduced fine will be given.

    • Ali Inkster

      • July 25th, 2015 11:19

      As a private business owner I have to say I find your statement that “lying, deceiving and cheating to gain higher profits and income is the name of the game” not only insulting but quite possibly libellous. It would be like someone saying middle aged single men with cameras only hang around school gates because they are perverts.

  • David Spence

    • July 25th, 2015 21:56

    I apologize Ali, and anybody else, if I have caused offence. It was not my intention.

  • Duncan Simpson

    • July 26th, 2015 16:00

    Well said Ali. David I frequently read your anti-capitalist rants on this website and whilst there is a degree of truth in some of the points you raise I have yet to see yourself (or anyone else on the planet) come up with a better alternative?

    I do agree with you that certain services should not be contracted out by the Government. However, broadly speaking, competition between companies drives costs down and encourages innovation. The real global issue is inequality which is not solely caused by capitalism. What form of Government do you propose adopt?

    • joe johnson

      • July 26th, 2015 23:19

      I second that Duncan, David Spence you do make some good points but there’s one thing I’m curious about, you are very anti capitalism but what society would you want this country to be in? What form of government would you want for this country?

  • David Spence

    • July 27th, 2015 15:41

    I know we can probably pick holes on the pro’s and con’s of any social system, and how this system is structured and governed, but looking at the broader picture, I would have to say the Scandinavian model of how a society functions does project a better way in which all aspects of society are for the greater good of that society and not just the minority within it.

    We could debate key elements where the Scandinavian model may fail compared to other countries, but as said, looking at it from a wider horizon, these countries seem to favour the systems they have adopted to be more cohesive and compatible as a social structure for the people as a whole.

    You could debate these systems work because of the smaller populations the Scandinavian countries have, but I would have to say, regardless to population numbers, it is the longer term projection for the greater good of the people of the country rather than the country specifically catering for the minority rich and well off, who also determine, unjustly I think, how these structures are formed and executed for the benefit of those minorities rather than the collective.

    • Duncan Simpson

      • July 27th, 2015 17:08

      As it happens I agree with you that the Nordic countries are, on the whole, better run than the UK. However these countries all remain Capitalist countries in which Private Companies (which you seem to detest) play a major role in the economy.

      If you are suggesting we should follow the example of the Nordic countries I do not disagree but that does seem to contradict many of your anti-capitalist rants I have read previously?

      • David Spence

        • July 27th, 2015 19:01

        I take your point, Duncan. I guess it is a fine balance between a Government installing socialist ideals to this of capitalist. However, it is these proportions one could debate further on, and the distinct impression one gets from the agenda the vile Tories want to promote is the, put bluntly, ‘ look after number 1 at the cost of everybody else ‘. This form of social conditioning I feel is very much wrong, and proves to be highly divisive and negative in its impact on a society, generally. Basically, going back to the times before the Industrial Revolution where it was Royalty, the rich and the church which 100% ruled.

        Yes, all forms of modern societies have socialist and capitalist principles in terms of economics, but what I object to is a Government taking the side of the minority rich and well off in which to better themselves by exploiting the rest of the population of the country.

        This, I feel, is where there are definite differences, and as said previously, a society should be structured for the benefit of all and not just the minority few, as the impression capitalism gives.

  • David Spence

    • July 28th, 2015 0:23

    The greatest danger in having a capitalist based economy, politically and socially is the shear greed of such a system if you look at it from a population point of view.

    The USA has, roughly, 310 million population (about 4.5% of the worlds) but this country consumes 31% of all global resources, 37% of all fossil fuels and produces 25% of the worlds pollution.

    Put into perspective, if everybody wanted the life style of the States, we would need 3.50 planet Earth’s to meet this demand. Can you see a future problem brewing??????

    China, the number 1 economy, has just over 4 times the population of the States, India (another fast growing economy) has just under 4 times the population of the States. These 2 countries count for about 33% of the total global population.

    Unless we develop better technologies, better ways to harness power safely and cheaply, better ways in which to manage population growth, better ways in which to use the land properly and balanced in respect to the environment and eco-systems (which we are a part of) better ways in which to reduce pollution (but not to sacrifice the environment, land and eco-systems)………there are huge problems for the not too distant future, and it seems very evident that a capitalist based social system would only create more problems than it would possibly try and solve.

    Greed, profit and wealth should not be the way forward in tackling the problems we are going to have in the future. Money, as a single cause, should not be the driving force to technological, social and political progress.

  • Martin Tregonning

    • July 29th, 2015 9:20

    I can think of few things more serious in any society than to take away someones liberty – to deprive someone – maybe with good reason – of their job, family, and freedom.

    So serious is this action that I think that it should only ever be exercised by the state on behalf of society as a whole. There is nothing wrong with capitalism, but there are some things which simply do not belong in private sector, and justice is one of them – that includes policing, the courts, and prisons.

  • David Spence

    • July 29th, 2015 12:57

    I totally agree, Martin. It seems very evident that the vile Tories will do anything for the cause of profit, greed and wealth, no matter what negative impact this will have on the population as a whole. I also suspect, since it is in their nature, self interest is taking priority when dishing out Government duties to the private sector, and certain politicians (of the vile Tory description) benefiting from such a change/transfer, lets say.

  • David Spence

    • July 29th, 2015 16:28

    When comes to making money and a profit Martin, anything goes…….including our justice system.

    The Legal Profession is totally driven by greed and profit. Justice and serving the people is a second priority. If you examine the ridiculous charges the legal profession charges in proportion to other professions, they are on top of the pyramid when it comes to charges in respect to service.

    Basically, the richer you are, the better the justice and how the Legal System will treat you.

  • JohnTulloch

    • July 29th, 2015 17:52

    The Scottish government let the contract to G4S. If G4S is failing to meet the terms of the contract it is the Scottish government’s responsibility to ensure that they do.

    The argument for letting the contract to a private business is that it costs less in taxpayers’ money and it may be that the repeated failure to deliver the defendants to court has stemmed from over-zealousness by one or more individuals within G4S to keep down costs. If so, that would indicate that they have, like many in both the private and nationalised sectors, not been properly briefed as to the requirements of their job.

    I expect they are now aware that they need to readjust their priorities.

    The Scottish government has a responsibility to get value for taxpayers’ money AND a responsibility for ensuring that detainees turn up in court, at the specified time, as opposed to some other time determined by a contractor they have hired to attend to it.


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