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Northern Ireland - Probe raps PSNI over "cosy" Grafton Recruitment contracts

11 August 2014

An 18-month probe into the awarding of Police Service of Northern Ireland (‘PSNI’) contracts worth over £100 million to Grafton Recruitment has warned of "cosy" deals and a procurement policy that was vulnerable to "corrupt practices" according to The Sunday Independent.

For over a decade the paper says, a Stormont watchdog has found 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".

The PSNI has spent over £106 million 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 £2 million a year in fees, but the variation increased spending by a massive £44 million over the next four years — a figure the Public Accounts Committee of Northern Ireland (PAC) 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.

According to The Sunday Independent, Grafton Recruitment declined to comment on their story.

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