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"Reliance escort deal could cost taxpayer more" by Peter McMahon, The Scotsman

20th June 2005

The contract granted to the controversial firm Reliance to transport prisoners in Scotland could end up costing the taxpayer more than it did in the public sector.

One of the country's leading statisticians yesterday claimed the cost of the private prisoner escort service had shot up 20 per cent.

Professor Sheila Bird said her analysis showed that the original £126 million seven-year estimated costs for Reliance had now increased to more than £150 million.

Reliance was the subject of controversy last year after a series of prisoner escapes following the firm's takeover of prisoner escort duties from police. The Scottish Prison Officers' Association called for the service to be returned to the public sector.

The SNP said the Reliance contract was "bungled" from the start.

© The Scotsman