Thursday 25 December 2014

Probe raps PSNI over "cosy" Grafton Recruitment contracts

Simon Rowe

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

A coat of arms pictured at the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Headquarters in Belfast. Photo: PeterMuhly/AFP/Getty Images)
A coat of arms pictured at the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Headquarters in Belfast. Photo: PeterMuhly/AFP/Getty Images)

AN 18-month probe into the awarding of PSNI contracts worth over £100m to Grafton Recruitment has warned of "cosy" deals and a procurement policy that was vulnerable to "corrupt practices".

For over a decade, recruitment giant Grafton was awarded PSNI contracts where there was either no competitive tendering or where the tendering process was found to have been "flawed", a Stormont watchdog has found.

The PSNI has spent over £106m since 2004 on temporary staff recruited by Grafton.

The procurement of temporary staff from Grafton began in 2004 when the PSNI signed a variation to a contract it already held with the firm to provide permanent staff. The existing contract was valued at around £2m a year in fees, but the variation increased spending by a massive £44m over the next four years - a figure the Public Accounts Committee of Northern Ireland found to be "astonishing".

The revised contract was awarded without a competitive tendering process.

In 2008, a four-year contract for the provision of temporary staff was again awarded to Grafton following a competitive tendering exercise which was found to be "not without flaw".

The committee's report says: "The full costs of the service being put out to tender were never properly assessed. This is unacceptable," said the watchdog.

"The current supplier [Grafton] has now been in place continually since 2002. In that time, it has established a virtual monopoly in the supply of temporary staff," it said.

The PSNI's lack of oversight on public procurement left it vulnerable to "corrupt practices" and "cosy" deals, warned the PAC.

Grafton Recruitment declined to comment.

Sunday Indo Business

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