Prison officers to undergo ‘financial stability checks’ in new anti-corruption measure
MoJ signs deal for credit analysis software platform
New and existing front-line staff at prisons throughout England and Wales will be asked to undergo checks of their “financial stability” in beefed-up security measures intended to serve as a bulwark against potential bribery or corruption.
To facilitate the checks, the Ministry of Justice has signed a one-year deal with Equifax. The company, one of the world’s largest credit-reference agencies, will provide the ministry with access to its financial-analysis software platforms. The contract came into effect on 31 March and will be worth £50,000 to the US-headquartered firm.
The company’s technology and systems will be used to conduct “financial stability checks for front-line operational staff including prison officers and operational support grades of HM Prison and Probation Service,” according to the contract-award notice.
HMPPS most recent workforce figures indicate that this would encompass about 22,000 currently serving prison officers, and an additional 5,000 support staff, working across 120 prisons and young offender institutions across England and Wales.
“The service will allow HMPPS Personnel Security Countermeasures unit to establish the financial stability of applicants and existing cohort to enable the mitigation against the possibility of staff being susceptible to bribery and corruption whilst in post,” the procurement notice added.
PublicTechnology understands probing the finances of new and potential prison workers is considered an additional check as part of a wider security vetting process. There is no blanket policy on what measures might be taken if the credit checks identify concerns, but rather any issues will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
An HMPPS spokesperson said: “An HMPPS spokesperson said: “These checks will ensure the safety and security of our staff, which is our top priority. All applications for roles in HMPPS are judged on individual merit.”
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