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Edinburgh Court of Appeal, Edinburgh, Scotland
November 24, 2004 BBC
A man is due to appear in court after a security guard was allegedly stabbed inside the Court of Appeal building in Edinburgh on Tuesday afternoon. The man was arrested after the incident in which the guard, who is in his 50s, was injured. A Reliance spokesman said: "We are investigating the situation and co-operating fully with the police and the Scottish Prison Service in their investigations." The security firm only started operating services in the capital last month after it successfully completed a shadowing operation in the Lothian and Borders force area.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, Fife, Scotland
December 2, 2004 BBC
Private security firm Reliance claims its performance is improving despite another prisoner escape last week. The company said it has overcome the "teething problems" which marred the start of its prisoner escort contract in west central Scotland this year. A prisoner slipped away from Reliance guards outside Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Friday. The escapee, who was a prisoner at Perth Prison, was returned to custody after being arrested by police on Monday. In September, Audit Scotland said that Reliance had improved its performance despite a number of prisoners being released in error.
Its report found that private guards were at fault for 12 out of 23 prisoners who were wrongly released.

November 29, 2004 BBC
A prisoner accused of escaping from a security guard outside a court last week is back in custody.  Steven Craigie went missing on Friday while he was being returned to a van at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in Fife by Reliance Security Services. The 22-year-old, a prisoner at Perth Prison, was arrested by police in the Levenmouth area on Monday.

November 27, 2004 BBC
Police are continuing their hunt for a prisoner who broke free from the hands of security guards at court in Fife. Officers are looking for 22-year-old Steven Craigie who slipped out of his handcuffs outside Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Friday evening.
Craigie, who is serving a sentence at Perth Prison, appeared in the court at about 1730 GMT before escaping Reliance Security Services staff. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party's deputy leader, said: "The Reliance contract has been a sham from the start. "It has been plagued by incompetence and shoddy management, numerous wrongful releases and a secret get-out clause. "Because of Cathy Jamieson's failure to protect public safety, we are now stuck with a second rate prisoner security service."

Reliance
March 14, 2011 BBC
Reliance is set to lose the contract for Scottish court custody and prisoner transfers to G4S Care and Justice Services UK. The current Scottish Prison Service contract with Reliance is due to come to an end in January 2012. Under European regulations, there will be a period of 10 days to allow other bidders and objectors to comment. G4S said the seven-year contract was likely to involve the transportation of about 180,000 prisoners each year. It covers the escorting of prisoners in Scotland between jails, police stations and the courts, as well as all external visits, such as hospital trips. G4S managing director of court services Russell Hobbs said: "G4S has unrivalled expertise in the care and transport of prisoners, and we were the first private company to take over court services from the public sector in England and Wales in 1993." Reliance, which had the prison transfer contract since 2003, declined to comment at this stage while the 10-day cooling off period is in place. Scottish Labour's justice spokesman Richard Baker accused Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill of "gross hypocrisy". He said: "In opposition his party said that a private firm should never have been brought in to deal with prisoner transfer matters and now in the fag-end of this administration, a new contract is signed, presumably with his full backing. "Surely it would have been preferable to wait until the new administration was in place of whatever political colour to award this contract. "This has been the hallmark of this administration. Say one thing in opposition. Do something completely different in government."

October 5, 2009 BBC
A "dangerous" prisoner who escaped from a Swansea court just after being sentenced had previously broken out of prison, it has been reported. James Stevenson, 29, who has a previous conviction for manslaughter, fled court on Friday after being given a five-year jail term for a firearms offence. The South Wales Evening Post has reported he had briefly escaped from a prison in Dorset in 2005. Questions are now being asked about the security at the Guildhall building. Rene Kinzett, leader of the Conservative group on Swansea council, said the escape was worrying for residents of the city. South Wales Police have warned the public not to approach him. In 2002, Stevenson killed his mother's boyfriend by stuffing newspaper in his mouth and gagging him. He then dumped his body in a river. At his trial later that year, Stevenson denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years. He escaped from a Dorset prison in 2005 but was caught after half an hour, the Evening Post said. It is thought Stevenson managed to leave a basement custody suite at the Guildhall building before fleeing on Friday afternoon after being jailed for breaching the terms of his licence and possessing a .410 shotgun. He should have been taken from Swansea to Cardiff prison to begin his sentence, with the private security firm Reliance making the transfer, before he absconded at about 1300 BST. According to an eyewitness, he made his way across the flat roof of the court building before clambering down a drainpipe and escaping into the city. Reliance has launched an investigation into how Stevenson was able to escape and is working with police to return him to custody. The firm said incidents like this were "extremely rare". The National Offender Management Service is also carrying out its own investigation. The court building he absconded from is often used as an overspill for the nearby main court. Sanctions -- Mr Kinzett said that Stevenson's escape raised a number of questions, including whether the Guildhall was secure enough for high-profile cases. He also wanted to know what role Reliance played in what happened and what sanctions it could face if it is at fault. "I am very worried that people of Swansea have been put at risk," he said. "They have been exposed to a huge risk through the escape of this dangerous man and obviously people need to co-operate with the police."

February 19, 2008 BBC
George McGeoch, who was serving a life sentence for offences including murder and abduction, had been attending a planned appointment at Perth Infirmary. The 36-year-old, originally from the Glasgow area, absconded from two members of escort staff and made off on foot at about 1530 GMT. A police spokesman said McGeoch should not be approached. Police officers are carrying out door to door enquiries in Perth and are studying CCTV footage, as well as monitoring various roads in and out of the city and bus and rail stations. McGeoch is described as 5ft 9ins, stocky, with very short ginger hair and a ginger Mexican-style moustache. At the time he was wearing a light t-shirt and dark jogging bottoms. It is believed McGeoch had recently been moved from Perth prison to HMP Dumfries. McGeoch was sentenced to life at the High Court in Inverness in April 1999 for the murder of Eric Innes, a 61-year-old bakery worker, by slashing his throat and trying to burn his body. In 2002 he took took two nurses hostage in his cell at Saughton Prison during a five-hour siege. Private security firm Reliance is responsible for Scotland's prison escort service.

September 15, 2006 BBC
Prison escort agency Reliance assured a sheriff in Shetland it would improve procedures after being called to court for failing to deliver a prisoner. Sheriff Graeme Napier ordered the firm to Lerwick Sheriff Court on a possible contempt of court charge after flight problems left a prisoner in Aberdeen. Reliance pledged to use the ferry to transfer prisoners to the islands when the weather was bad. Sheriff Napier accepted the assurances and did not pursue any contempt charge. Reliance area director Mike Pirie appeared in court on Friday in connection with the problems earlier this week. The sheriff was given assurances Reliance would review and improve its procedures for transferring prisoners to court in Shetland. The company also apologised to the sheriff for the inconvenience it had caused. Sheriff Napier said he accepted the company's assurances and decided there was no merit in a contempt of court charge.

September 14, 2006 BCC
A chief officer from prison escort agency Reliance has not made it to Shetland to answer questions about failing to deliver a prisoner on time. A man had been due at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to face a variety of charges but did not appear. Sheriff Graeme Napier ordered the Reliance's director of operations to appear in court - with the possibility of a contempt charge. However, no officer appeared and the case was continued to Friday. The prisoner had originally been left stranded in Aberdeen due to fog and flight problems. Sheriff Napier was expecting to address the possible contempt issue after Wednesday's problems. The Reliance area manager is now expected to appear before the sheriff, along with a company lawyer, on Friday.

July 25, 2006 BBC
An investigation is under way after a woman working for a prisoner escort firm took her dog to work. The Reliance worker arrived at Paisley Sheriff Court with the dog two weeks ago and let a female prisoner walk the pet around the cells. A supervisor at the court has been suspended for letting the woman bring the animal into the building, a spokesman for the firm said. He said: "A member of staff has been suspended pending an investigation."

April 12, 2006 Evening Times
A PRIVATE prison security firm came under fire today after it took prisoners to the wrong courts and held up proceedings twice in one day. A Reliance driver took a rapist to a court 50 miles from where he should have appeared and delayed his sentencing by 24 hours. Staff from Reliance Custodial Services picked up Felice Cariello from Saughton Prison in Edinburgh and were supposed to take him to the High Court in Glasgow. But they took him to the High Court in Edinburgh, where he had been convicted, instead. The bungle happened the same day two money launderers were taken to Edinburgh's Sheriff Court instead of the High Court, delaying their appearance by hours.

October 26, 2004 Scotsman
MSPs today called into question official claims that handing prison escort duties to private security company Reliance will save taxpayers £20 million a year. Scottish Nationalist Andrew Welsh claimed the estimate was "poorly based" and "largely speculative". And Labour backbencher Margaret Jamieson suggested it "may not be very robust". The comments came as the parliamentís audit committee quizzed Auditor General Robert Black on his report into the contracting-out of the escort role from the Scottish Prison Service to Reliance.
Mr Black told the committee the SPS had not kept information on the cost of escort duties.

October 19, 2004 Scotsman
THE hi-tech arm of the controversial prisoner security firm Reliance - widely criticised for its performance in Scotland - has lost one of its key government contracts south of the border.
Reliance Monitoring Services, whose sister company Reliance Custodial Services has come under intense criticism in Scotland for accidently releasing a string of prisoners, has lost an £18 million-a-year Home Office deal to supply electronic tagging equipment to prison authorities in southern England. Details of the latest blow to the company come as Relianceís custodial-services arm - which recently took on a £120 million seven-year contract to escort prisoners across Scotland - continues to come under increasing scrutiny after admitting the accidental release of 12 prisoners, including a convicted murderer, leading to regular calls for Cathy Jamieson, Scotlandís Justice Minister, to resign. The loss of the lucrative contract south of the Border will present serious concerns to Reliance Monitoring Services in Scotland, whose own multi-million-pound deal with the Scottish Executive is up for renewal early next year and is expected to be put out to tender sometime in March. The firm lost the contract in England in the wake of a number of allegations surrounding malfunctioning equipment. In one case, in Gloucester, an electronically-tagged defendant awaiting trial on kidnap and assault charges was caught on CCTV breaking the terms of his tagging order without Reliance Monitoring Service picking up his absence. At the time Reliance press spokeswoman Yoma Anighoro, revealed that they had encountered problems with around 20 per cent of their assigned cases. With the Government under increasing criticism for turning crime and punishment into a profit-making opportunity for the private sector, electronic tagging has become the latest money-spinner for firms like Reliance, which created its monitoring-services arm in a bid to corner the market.

Scotland Prison Escort Service and Tagging
March 14, 2011 BBC
Reliance is set to lose the contract for Scottish court custody and prisoner transfers to G4S Care and Justice Services UK. The current Scottish Prison Service contract with Reliance is due to come to an end in January 2012. Under European regulations, there will be a period of 10 days to allow other bidders and objectors to comment. G4S said the seven-year contract was likely to involve the transportation of about 180,000 prisoners each year. It covers the escorting of prisoners in Scotland between jails, police stations and the courts, as well as all external visits, such as hospital trips. G4S managing director of court services Russell Hobbs said: "G4S has unrivalled expertise in the care and transport of prisoners, and we were the first private company to take over court services from the public sector in England and Wales in 1993." Reliance, which had the prison transfer contract since 2003, declined to comment at this stage while the 10-day cooling off period is in place. Scottish Labour's justice spokesman Richard Baker accused Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill of "gross hypocrisy". He said: "In opposition his party said that a private firm should never have been brought in to deal with prisoner transfer matters and now in the fag-end of this administration, a new contract is signed, presumably with his full backing. "Surely it would have been preferable to wait until the new administration was in place of whatever political colour to award this contract. "This has been the hallmark of this administration. Say one thing in opposition. Do something completely different in government."

February 19, 2008 BBC
George McGeoch, who was serving a life sentence for offences including murder and abduction, had been attending a planned appointment at Perth Infirmary. The 36-year-old, originally from the Glasgow area, absconded from two members of escort staff and made off on foot at about 1530 GMT. A police spokesman said McGeoch should not be approached. Police officers are carrying out door to door enquiries in Perth and are studying CCTV footage, as well as monitoring various roads in and out of the city and bus and rail stations. McGeoch is described as 5ft 9ins, stocky, with very short ginger hair and a ginger Mexican-style moustache. At the time he was wearing a light t-shirt and dark jogging bottoms. It is believed McGeoch had recently been moved from Perth prison to HMP Dumfries. McGeoch was sentenced to life at the High Court in Inverness in April 1999 for the murder of Eric Innes, a 61-year-old bakery worker, by slashing his throat and trying to burn his body. In 2002 he took took two nurses hostage in his cell at Saughton Prison during a five-hour siege. Private security firm Reliance is responsible for Scotland's prison escort service.

September 12, 2007 BBC
The security firm Reliance has been accused of causing delays at one of Scotland's busiest courts. Lawyers said business at Paisley Sheriff Court was being delayed because of a lack of Reliance staff. The Paisley Faculty of Procurators said the "time had come for the justice secretary to reassess the ability of Reliance to fulfil their contract". However, Reliance said it was fulfilling its contractual responsibilities. Paisley lawyers claimed there was a lack of Reliance personnel to attend dock escorts. Charlie McCusker, dean of the Paisley Faculty of Procurators, said that despite several meetings with senior staff, the situation was not improving. "The fact of the matter is that Reliance are unreliable and as a result court business is being delayed to the detriment of everyone," he said. 'Very frustrating' -- "Senior management at Reliance come to the court users committee meetings and assure all other court users they are dealing with the problem. "It's not a problem caused by the staff who are there, there is nothing wrong with what they do. "It's the lack of resources, the lack of manpower." He added: "You can't get justice on the cheap, we work at the coal face and I just find it very, very frustrating." Freelance journalist Louden Temple, who covers the court, said sheriffs have been refusing to sit until a Reliance officer is present to accompany accused and prisoners. "Although it's been highlighted in Paisley the problem is all over the place," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme. "Sometimes it's one or two courts it affects, most days we have four or five, maybe six, courts sitting in Paisley. "When it affects that amount of business on a daily basis it can't be good for business." Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) was responsible for managing the contract. A spokesman for the SPS said: "The recent inspection report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons into the conditions and treatment of prisoners under escort found that the overwhelming number of escorts were managed without incident or difficulty of any kind.

April 12, 2006 Evening Times
A PRIVATE prison security firm came under fire today after it took prisoners to the wrong courts and held up proceedings twice in one day. A Reliance driver took a rapist to a court 50 miles from where he should have appeared and delayed his sentencing by 24 hours. Staff from Reliance Custodial Services picked up Felice Cariello from Saughton Prison in Edinburgh and were supposed to take him to the High Court in Glasgow. But they took him to the High Court in Edinburgh, where he had been convicted, instead. The bungle happened the same day two money launderers were taken to Edinburgh's Sheriff Court instead of the High Court, delaying their appearance by hours.

January 18, 2006 The Scotsman
Managers of Scotlandís prison system heard in January that prison guards at the private security company Reliance are being forced to work "dangerously long shifts." Reliance, contracted by the Scottish Prison Service to perform certain core and escort duties, has been heavily criticized for a number of escaped prisoners. Long shifts are not ergonomically sound, and have been shown in many studies to lead to the kind of problems that make prison escapes unsurprising. In an article in The Scotsman newspaper, the Prison Service Union (PSU) reported that tired workers responsible for some of the country's most dangerous inmates are in danger of letting their guard drop, putting their safety at risk and potentially leading to escapes. PSU Assistant General Secretary Steve Farrell explained in the report that staff work "extremely long and dangerous hours - anything between 12 and 16 hours a shift, on average." In extreme cases, staff work in excess of 20 hours in a single day, he said.

October 21, 2005 Scotsman
Security firm Reliance has lost out in the battle to win a £30 million contract to provide tagging in Scotland, it has been disclosed. The five-year contract will instead to rival Serco, the Executive announced. Reliance holds the current contract, worth £14 million, which began in 2002 and which expires in May next year. The Executive denied Reliance lost out because of well-publicised problems when it took over responsibility last year for court and prison escort duties in Scotland.

September 14, 2005 The Herald
RELIANCE, the private security firm criticised over a series of prisoner escapes, has lost the multi-million pound contract for tagging offenders in Scotland. The initial £14m deal was awarded to Reliance Monitoring in January 2002 before being extended for a further 12 months, worth £8m, earlier this year. However, Serco, the com-pany which runs Scotland's only private prison, has now been awarded preferred bidder status for the tender to operate electronic monitoring on teenage and adult offenders from next April until 2011. The Scottish Executive is expected to make an official announcement next month. Critics believe the monitoring firm lost favour after its sister company, Reliance Custodial Services, took over prisoner escort responsibilities in April 2004. Just days into the seven-year £126m contract's roll-out, the firm allowed a number of prisoners to escape, including James McCormick, a convicted killer who was aged 17. The decision to award the contract to Serco is also expected to prove controversial. Serco owns Premier Custodial Services, the firm which runs Kilmarnock prison, and was rebuked earlier this year following claims of staff shortages and negligence. A BBC reporter found evidence that warders failed to carry out suicide checks, despite six suicides at the jail in a five-year period. The programme also claimed that officers failed to report offences, including heroin use, which would attract a fine, to protect the income of the jail's operator. The screening of Prison Undercover: The Real Story led to three staff being removed from their duties and an internal investigation by Premier. A fatal accident inquiry earlier this year into the suicide of an inmate at the prison in 2002 was highly critical of failures to monitor him. Premier said a number of improvements had already been introduced.

February 1, 2005 BBC
A teenage murderer who spent more than two weeks on the run has admitted duping guards from a private security firm into setting him free. James McCormick's escape - days after Reliance took over prisoner escort duties - sparked a political row. The High Court in Glasgow heard that the 18-year-old pretended to be another teenager who had been granted bail. He and four other prisoners were locked in a cell exclusively for those from Polmont. Only one of the five prisoners, Thomas Gallagher, was granted bail. Police at the court asked Reliance staff to collect the 16-year-old from the cells so he could be released. The court heard that a guard yelled Mr Gallagher's name. However, it was McCormick - who did not know the teenager before that day - who came forward.
His escape sparked a nationwide hunt and led to a political storm over the decision to privatise the service. Gordon Jackson QC, defending, said the escape had happened through "a comedy of errors". He said: "It was a daft thing to do. It came about as a result of a poor security check."

December 2, 2004 BBC
Private security firm Reliance claims its performance is improving despite another prisoner escape last week. The company said it has overcome the "teething problems" which marred the start of its prisoner escort contract in west central Scotland this year. A prisoner slipped away from Reliance guards outside Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Friday. The escapee, who was a prisoner at Perth Prison, was returned to custody after being arrested by police on Monday. In September, Audit Scotland said that Reliance had improved its performance despite a number of prisoners being released in error.
Its report found that private guards were at fault for 12 out of 23 prisoners who were wrongly released.

November 24, 2004 BBC
The Scottish Prison Service is facing strong criticism for signing a confidentiality agreement with the private security firm, Reliance. The Scottish Information Commissioner carried out an investigation into the agreement, following an SNP complaint. He has now expressed "dissatisfaction" with a legally-binding clause which allowed Reliance to stop full the publication of the contract. Reliance will be paid £126m over seven years to provide court escort services. The Scottish National Party demanded publication of the Reliance contract after a series of high-profile mistakes which saw a number of prisoners and offenders go free. The party lodged an appeal under the Code of Practice on Access to Scottish Executive Information. Only an edited version of the contract was released with figures for cash penalties and other details missing. The SNP complained and Mr Dunion launched an investigation and made his ruling public on Wednesday. His report described the confidentiality arrangement as "extraordinarily unbalanced", giving a private firm a veto over the public interest.
But he conceded that the SPS was legally able to withhold the information.

November 7, 2004 Sunday Mail
EXHAUSTED workers at the crisis-hit Reliance security firm are flooding a union with requests for membership. More than 200 Reliance staff have been recruited by the Prison Services Union in the last few months. Stressed-out workers with the prisoner escort company are working up to 60 hours a week because of staff shortages. But they claim complaints about working conditions are being ignored by bosses.

October 26, 2004 Scotsman
MSPs today called into question official claims that handing prison escort duties to private security company Reliance will save taxpayers £20 million a year. Scottish Nationalist Andrew Welsh claimed the estimate was "poorly based" and "largely speculative". And Labour backbencher Margaret Jamieson suggested it "may not be very robust". The comments came as the parliamentís audit committee quizzed Auditor General Robert Black on his report into the contracting-out of the escort role from the Scottish Prison Service to Reliance.
Mr Black told the committee the SPS had not kept information on the cost of escort duties.

October 21, 2004 Scotsman
THE Scottish National Party called for ministerial action yesterday, after it emerged that guards from the security firm Reliance are not allowed to chase and apprehend prisoners who escape from their custody.
Only police officers have the right to recapture prisoners who escape. Linda Fabiani, an SNP MSP, said she was appalled that all Reliance guards could do if a prisoner escaped was "wave cheerio". Reliance has admitted losing a dozen prisoners on the way to, or on the way from, courts since it took over duties from the Scottish Prison Service earlier this year. Ms Fabiani said: "This is a totally ridiculous state of affairs. Reliance are meant to be taking charge of prisoners while they are being transported to and from court, but if one manages to break free then all Reliance staff can do is stand back and watch them escape."

October 19, 2004 BBC
Detectives are investigating an attack on a prisoner in the cells below the High Court in Glasgow.  Barry Mallon, 21, was slashed on the face and neck after he appeared in court with three other prisoners. He had been segregated from the others in prison, but they were returned to the same cell after appearing in court.
Strathclyde Police and Reliance, the private firm responsible for security at the court, have both launched investigations into the incident. Conservative MSP Bill Aitken, who represents the Glasgow region, described it as "an incredible situation". He said: "No prisoner, however they arrive in the court cells, should be able to use a weapon to attack another. "There has obviously been a fundamental breach of security and a full and immediate investigation must be carried out - and, if necessary, those responsible should face disciplinary action."

The under-fire private security firm Reliance has begun shadowing police and prison staff in Dumfries.  But there will be no further roll-out of the prison escort contract until an assessment has been carried out of the firm's readiness to cope with work.  Reliance was awarded the contract so that police and prison guards could concentrate on "core duties".  However, a number of prisoners have been released in error since the firm began work in the west of Scotland.  (BBC, June 30, 2004)

Up to 17 prisoners may have escaped from custody while private security firm Reliance was on duty, it has emerged.  The firm's managing director has been questioned by MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.  Tom Riall told the Justice 2 Committee that so far six of the releases can be blamed to some extent on Reliance.  Mr Riall told MSPs that the private firm had not anticipated the difficulties it would face when it took over the job of transporting prisoners to court.  But he insisted the firm was getting on top of the job and he expressed his hope that the Scottish Executive would lift the freeze it placed on the £126m contract.  (BBC, June 28, 2004)

Prison escort firm Reliance has incurred £75,000 in penalties for releasing prisoners by mistake.  The firm has accepted the blame for allowing three people to walk free from custody in Scotland.  Penalty details were edited from the published version of the Reliance contract which was released last week.  However, BBC Scotland understands that the contract specifies a £25,000 rebate to the Scottish Executive for each prisoner.  (BBC, June 28, 2004)

Another prisoner has escaped from custody while being transported to court by Reliance Security Services.  David Duffy was due to face assault and disorder charges and was on his way to Glasgow Sheriff Court when he escaped through the roof of an escort van.  The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said it was investigating the incident.  Earlier this month it was revealed that up to 17 people may have escaped since Reliance took over the prison escort service in the west of Scotland.  (BBC, June 28, 2004)

United Kingdom
August 16, 2011 BBC
An investigation is under way after a prisoner escaped in Hereford while being transported by a security firm. The 17-year-old was being taken from Hereford Youth Court by Reliance on Monday afternoon when he fled in the Aylestone Hill area of the city. He was recaptured later in the evening after a search involving the police helicopter and dogs. Two staff from Reliance were taken to hospital with severe bruising. They were taking the prisoner to Werrington Young Offenders' Institution in Stoke-on-Trent. A statement from Reliance, which is now investigating the escape, said: "We transport and oversee the welfare of 200,000 prisoners every year with incidents of this nature being extremely rare."

October 19, 2004 Scotsman
THE hi-tech arm of the controversial prisoner security firm Reliance - widely criticised for its performance in Scotland - has lost one of its key government contracts south of the border.
Reliance Monitoring Services, whose sister company Reliance Custodial Services has come under intense criticism in Scotland for accidently releasing a string of prisoners, has lost an £18 million-a-year Home Office deal to supply electronic tagging equipment to prison authorities in southern England. Details of the latest blow to the company come as Relianceís custodial-services arm - which recently took on a £120 million seven-year contract to escort prisoners across Scotland - continues to come under increasing scrutiny after admitting the accidental release of 12 prisoners, including a convicted murderer, leading to regular calls for Cathy Jamieson, Scotlandís Justice Minister, to resign. The loss of the lucrative contract south of the Border will present serious concerns to Reliance Monitoring Services in Scotland, whose own multi-million-pound deal with the Scottish Executive is up for renewal early next year and is expected to be put out to tender sometime in March. The firm lost the contract in England in the wake of a number of allegations surrounding malfunctioning equipment. In one case, in Gloucester, an electronically-tagged defendant awaiting trial on kidnap and assault charges was caught on CCTV breaking the terms of his tagging order without Reliance Monitoring Service picking up his absence. At the time Reliance press spokeswoman Yoma Anighoro, revealed that they had encountered problems with around 20 per cent of their assigned cases. With the Government under increasing criticism for turning crime and punishment into a profit-making opportunity for the private sector, electronic tagging has become the latest money-spinner for firms like Reliance, which created its monitoring-services arm in a bid to corner the market.

The terms under which security firm Reliance Custodial Services operates prison escort services in Scotland are likely to be made public. The Scottish Prison Service is expected to release an edited version of the company's contract on the internet. Reliance took over court custody and prison escort services in the west of Scotland last month. Extending the firm's responsibilities across Scotland was put on hold after a series of high-profile blunders. Opposition MSPs have demanded to know what penalties the firm must pay. (BBC, May 20, 2004)