Securicor prison plans to go ahead

Securicor, the mobile telephones to security group, yesterday revealed that Labour was "minded" to continue with the previous Government's plans for privatised prisons.

Roger Wiggs, chief executive, said they had pre-qualifed under the Conservative administration's private finance initiative for three new private prisons in England. "We understand that the Government will go ahead with these and not upset existing contracts", he said.

The company said it understood that Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, was minded to fund these prisons, to be sited in the Manchester area, the Bristol area and one in a location still to be decided, either wholly or partly using private capital on the same basis as a prison Securicor is building at Bridgend in South Wales.

Mr Straw has also indicated to the company that the Government was in favour of the electronic tagging of offenders and had extended Securicor's contract to conduct trials until July 1998.

The comments came as the company announced pre-tax profits slashed from pounds 47.6m to pounds 19.1m in the year to March, hit by a series of one-off charges relating to its telecommunications and mobile telephone activities. An pounds 18m provision to cover accelerated amortisation of customer incentives at the group's service provider for the Cellnet mobile telephone network, Securicor Cellular Services, was announced in March in a profit warning.

But the group also revealed yesterday it was taking a pounds 10m charge for an overunning computer contract at Cellnet, of which Securicor owns 40 per cent.