More than half of the Government's contract spending on detention services went to just two firms, G4S and Serco, a report reveals today.
G4S was this month stripped of a key prison contract in the wake of its shambolic handling of Olympic security but the report reveals it won contracts for a third of spending on detention, surveillance, prisoner escort and deportation.
The report, by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, shows that out of £745m spent on contractors by the UK Border Agency and the National Offender Management Service between May 2010 and April 2011, G4S received £229m while £154m – one fifth – went to Serco.
Richard Garside, one of the report's authors, said: "For... two very large companies [to] hold more than half the contracts doesn't strike us as a particularly promising way of diversifying the market place." He said it was against the public interest to have a near-monopoly on "very lucrative contracts which are shrouded in commercial confidentiality".
Shadow Justice secretary Sadiq Khan said it emphasised the need for extending Freedom of Information so there was greater transparency.
Justice minister Jeremy Wright said new organisations were now competing in the market, adding: "Through competition we have secured significant cost reduction."
G4S declined to comment but said the contracts were awarded only after a comprehensive and transparent procurement process.
Serco said: "All our contracts have been awarded following competitions designed to deliver value for the customer."