Death of Adam Rickwood – Serco

West Midlands against Policing for Profit asked West Midlands Police Authority:

The inquest jury into the death of Adam Rickwood, the youngest person to die in custody in Britain, found that that the manhandling of 14-year-old Adam Rickwood and a “distraction” blow to his nose were “more than minimally” relevant to his suicide six hours later at Hassockfield secure training centre, County Durham, in August 2004. Hassockfield secure training centre is run by Serco.

On 27 January 2011 the jury in the second Adam Rickwood inquest made the following findings of fact as part of its narrative verdict:

“Before and at the time of Adam’s death, Physical control in care was regularly used at Hassockfield in circumstances not permitted by the contract between the Home Office and Serco, the STC Rules and the Director’s Rules.

Before and at the time of Adam’s death, [there was] a serious system failure in relation to the use of PCC at Hassockfield, giving rise to an unlawful regime.”

1. Did Serco declare this case when they answered the question at Pre-Qualification stage as to whether the company had been found guilty of “committing any acts of grave misconduct in the course of their business and profession?”

2.  If Serco didn’t advise West Midlands Police Authority of this finding of facts that an institution that it was running was found to be operating an unlawful regime of physical control against young people in its custody what action is the Police Authority proposing to take in regard to this ?

West Midlands Police Authority answered

The Authority’s response is:

 Question 1 – No.

Question 2 – In undertaking the procurement process for business partnering the Authority is subject to EU law and the requirements of the Public Contracts Regulations. The Authority is under a duty to treat bidders equally.  The regulations provide for mandatory grounds which require the exclusion of a bidder in cases such as convictions for bribery.  There are discretionary grounds to exclude a bidder where there has been grave misconduct in the course of a business or profession or where there is a criminal conviction relating to a business or profession. It is not considered that the case referred to in your question constitutes grave misconduct such as would justify excluding Serco from bidding and no action is proposed.

For the full reply from WMPA click on the following link Death of Adam Rickwood


The Procurement Regulations allow for the social considerations, including human rights, to be part of the selection criteria for the procurement process so long as potential bidders are treated equally. EU legislation of which the Procurement Regulations are a part have sought to uphold human rights. Further given the nature and range of the services identified on the OJEU notice for the BPP contract, including custody and crime investigation functions,   human rights considerations should reasonably form part of the technical specification and selection criteria.

The WMPA appears to have ignored the intent of the EU procurement Regulations which is to uphold human rights.



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