back to article Serious Fraud Office fines Serco £22.9m over electronic tagging scandal

Outsourcing giant Serco has agreed to cough up £22.9m to the UK's Serious Fraud Office in fines and costs related to its electronic tagging scandal. Under the "deferred prosecution agreement", the firm's UK subsidiary – Serco Geografix Ltd (SGL) – has taken responsibility for three offences of fraud and two of false accounting …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    I think this is an acronym for: Serial contract offences.

    I hope the DPP is or has gone after those who were working for the company at the time.

    Paying money back shouldn't exonerate them from the crime.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a deferred prosecution agreement. They've got away with it. There will be no prosecution. The SFO doesn't want the hassle of prosecuting major fraud for large organisations who tak eup public service contracts or have military weapons licences so they fine them a token amount an dpromise not to prosecute.

      It's the equivalent to a Police Caution + Fine.

      The larger the fraud the less important there is individual punishment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not quite - a police caution is the equivalent to pleading guilty without the hassle of a trial to assess the evidence of guilt. As a result you end up with a criminal record (no, not "anything by bieber") which in this case would bar you from doing any more work on the contract.

  2. Blockchain commentard

    Nice little earner - monitoring the dead.

    To make sure they don't move, I suggest burying them 6 feet under and putting a large marble slab on top of them !!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice little earner - monitoring the dead.

      I wonder what Undertakers do when they are given a body with a tag attached? Is there a contact number on the tag to call or do they just cut it off and wait for someone to come round based on the anti-tamper alert?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice little earner - monitoring the dead.

      They're obviously prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

      1. theblackhand

        Re: Nice little earner - monitoring the dead.

        "they're obviously prepared for the zombie apocalypse."

        They tie their shoelaces together for that...

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Nobody who sat on the Board of Serco Group, or who was part of the Executive Management Team at the time these offences were committed, works for the Group today."

    I take it this includes whoever made the decisions. Will any bonuses be clawed back? Or have they moved on to other jobs or their pensions scot-free? Presumably it's just left to the shareholders, who include the pension funds the rest of us look to, to take the hit.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Will any of them be going to prison? Or be electronically tagged ?

      Try fiddling £70 of benefits and see how well saying "lessons have been learned" goes down with the DHSS

    2. macjules Silver badge

      And "In 2013 Serco referred itself to the SFO"

      I just bet they did that, "Hey sorry Mr Plod but we think we may have just committed a £23 million offence, but we have have definitely learned from this. Now, who wants a board position with Serco?"

  4. nematoad Silver badge

    It's that word again.

    I followed some of the links in the article and I came across this one:


    One phrase that caught my eye was this:

    "James Rutherford of Serco said: "The equipment we use for Electronic Monitoring is proven to be robust and reliable."

    It seems as if the Post Office got the memo as it is exactly the same phrase they use to describe their Horizon system.

    In Serco's case it does not seem to have been very "robust" and looking at the trial of the Post Office's system just ended neither does Horizon.

    Oh, one final thought. The Post Office refers to itself as "Post Office" and that really irritates me. Have they never heard of the definite article?

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: It's that word again.

      robust and reliable

      Isn't that just code for 'it makes a good doorstop'

      I'll bet Douglas would have jumped on that one to describe the Quark II by Wayforward Technologies.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It's that word again.

      The Post Office refers to itself as "Post Office"

      That's because it's a private company and that's the company name. You are confusing Royal Mail with the company that took over fronting for taking parcels & other stuff when the old government department was dismantled.

  5. adam payne

    Serco referred itself to the SFO, and along with outsourcing company G4S faced allegations it had been charging the MoJ for monitoring offenders in the community that were already in jail, had left the country or were, um, dead.

    Shouldn't the MoJ know this kind of stuff already?!? Government departments talking to each other...oh yeah OK.

    Under the agreement, which is subject to court approval, Serco will not face formal criminal charges.

    This should never have been agreed to. Get them all up on the stand and make them accountable for what they did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      My mate was hired by the Home Office. He's a statistician. His first project was to assess how effective the tagging program was.

      He spent the first two weeks reading the reports, then trying (in vain) to find the actual data that the reports promised was there.

      No actual data. Lots of fancy reports with conclusions drawn from data sets that just didn't exist.

      So he rather nervously explained to his boss that not only could they not assess how effective it was, but couldn't even tell how many people were actually tagged, let alone who, and that the billing numbers had nothing to back them up.

      A week later he got moved to a different project, about six months later it blew up in the press.

      "Shouldn't the MoJ know this kind of stuff already?!?"

      They did. That's why it was trivial to show the numbers were wrong. Further inspection revealed the numbers had *nothing* to back them up. Not people tagged, not physical tags issued, nothing.

  6. volsano

    Criminal conviction

    A criminal conviction would bar just about any individual from ever working within the criminal justice system again.

    Why does that not apply to corporations? Serco still has many lucrative contracts.

  7. batfink Silver badge

    Why are they still in place?

    Let me get this straight: Serco has admitted to Fraud, and been fined £23M. And they still have the contract. So, Fraud (a Criminal Offence) is clearly still not enough for them to have the contract taken away from them.

    What, exactly, do they have to do to lose this contract? Stop paying the bribes, maybe??

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Why are they still in place?

      Unfortunately it probably will be seen as a cost saving to keep them and they'll justify it because all the people "apparently" involved no longer work there.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Why are they still in place?

      Probably the tiny matter of ... if you take the contract from them, who are you going to give it to ?

      Hint: The list of contractors big enough to be able to take on such a contract is quite small (they don't refer to them as "the big four" for nothing) and contains the names of other serial offenders.

      1. batfink Silver badge

        Re: Why are they still in place?

        Back in house, where it came from in the first place?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Why are they still in place?

        "Probably the tiny matter of ... if you take the contract from them, who are you going to give it to ?"

        This is the same problem faced by counties dealing with huge amounts of contractor fraud.

        Unfortunately the counties concerned have taken the path of burying the auditor reports and pretending that the fraud wasn't uncovered - and the Police line is that they will only only investigate if the counties bring the cases forward.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    or as the west calls it "a fine".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "deferred prosecution agreement"

    is that something I can get in place of jail time, or does this agreement only apply to "selected public sector partners"?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: "deferred prosecution agreement"

      Do you have £102.9m of spare cash that you can stuff into brown envelopes?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "deferred prosecution agreement"

        well, I believe, that amount is, somewhat, related, to their earnings, and not an absolute figure. So, perhaps, for an average Joe, it's more like a fine to the value of a few quid?

  10. jake Silver badge

    "Serious Fraud Office"?

    Is there a "Not So Serious Fraud Office"?

    Shirley there should be a "Fraud, But We'll Fine You And You Can Carry On Office" for cases like the one in the article?

    More to the point, is there a cash limit to make it within the scope of the "Fraud, But Small Enough That You Don't Even Get Your Wrist Slapped As Long As You Pay Your Taxes Office"? Seems to me that would be a good number to know, should one be of a larcenous mindset. Perhaps I should ask my friendly politician ...

  11. Winkypop Silver badge

    Nothing to see here

    Move along now. especially YOU.

    We're tracking YOU!

  12. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Don't do it again ...

    "You've been caught and fined loads of money for blatant fraud so obviously we'll put you on our 'undesirable' list."

    "There's a directorship, several board positions and the requirement for many highly paid 'consultants' about to be announced ..."

    "Now, since you put it so eloquently, which highly profitable Government contract do you want next?"

    Snout/trough interfacing is far to obvious in higher Government circles ...

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