Overall, Serco’s performance in the area of court custody under the CSCS Contract had improved since the previous inspection. Staff culture and morale at sites across the state was greatly improved, and stakeholder relations were generally strong. New facilities at Kalgoorlie, Kununurra and Carnarvon, and a new service at Perth Children’s Court had been incorporated successfully into the wider Serco operation. The secure unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital was also operating well as a unique site. The inspection found that people in custody were treated with decency and respect by Serco officers, with appropriate attention paid to their welfare while in custody.
Similarly, G4S had consolidated performance under the DCB Contract and was delivering services at a high standard. The District Court and CLC court custody centres were operating effectively and G4S officers were managing people in custody well. Relationships with stakeholders had been further strengthened and satisfaction with the service was high.
Governance remained complicated for both contracts, but the relationships between the various parties had matured, and conflicting expectations were less evident. There was a common theme of depletion of monitoring resources across both contracts. When public services are outsourced to private contractors, the state has an obligation to ensure close monitoring. In the face of budgetary pressures, it is understandably tempting to cut these services. However, even when the working relationship with the contractor is strong and performance is at a high standard, the state cannot afford to relax its oversight of the contract because it may not always be so. And if contractor performance does at some stage decline and risks materialise, it will be too late then to divert resources back into monitoring and oversight.