The Ministry of Justice has confirmed a change of heart on outsourcing of fine enforcement as another of former lord chancellor Chris Grayling’s policies is retracted.
In a written statement to the House of Commons today, justice minister Shailesh Vara announced the policy is being changed ‘following a re-consideration of the department’s requirements’.
The MoJ ran an 18-month tender process from July 2013 to find a new provider of criminal court compliance and enforcement services.
The bidding process closed in January this year and in July the department confirmed that international firm Synnex Concentrix had been announced as the preferred bidder for court enforcements.
In today's statement, Vara said that outsourcing services to a single supplier is not considered the best option for HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
He added: ‘This decision is based on the need to ensure that any contract we let completely meets our requirements, provides best value for the taxpayer and complies with procurement law.
‘Ministers have set out the importance of reforming HMCTS to provide a modern and efficient service for society. Improving compliance and enforcement services will continue to form a key part of that work. We believe that in-house modernisation is the best option for HMCTS.’
Vara said in the last year HMCTS has collected more than £550m in fines, fixed penalties and orders.
Meanwhile, the MoJ has played down reports that it is on the brink of scrapping the criminal courts charge.
The charge, one of former justice secretary Grayling’s last acts in the post, has been criticised by campaigners who say it is unfair and encourages innocent people to plead guilty to receive a lesser charge.
Today’s Independent reports that Grayling’s replacement Michael Gove is prepared to reform the policy or even scrap the charges altogether. The lord chancellor has already ordered a review of the charges.
An MoJ spokesman said the reports are ‘speculation and nothing has changed’.
During a House of Lords debate on the charge yesterday, justice minister Lord Faulks said: ‘The government believe that convicted adult offenders should take responsibility and contribute towards the costs they impose. If they do not, of course, the cost is paid by the taxpayer.
‘The criminal courts charge is intended to ensure that offenders take a greater share of the burden, currently borne by taxpayers, of funding the criminal courts.’