TRADE union members have staged a protest against the involvement of private company Serco in the Government's test, track and trace system.

The firm has faced criticisms about how effective has been – with just over 50 per cent of people from the same household as a person infected with Covid-19 being contacted – and its accidental sharing of tracers' details.

Darlington Trades Union Council was one of dozens nationally to stage a protest on Tuesday calling for the Government to end the contract and fund local public health protection teams to manage test, track and trace.

Chair Pat Buttle said: “We have been campaigning on the streets in the last few weeks in support of the NHS. We have had a great response; and people are very supportive of our public services and the expertise of their staff.

"The public are appalled that they have not had more government recognition; especially when they see the millions of pounds that have been given by the government to its friends and private companies to provide services that they have no previous experience of. That is why we are protesting to highlight this corruption and misuse of taxpayers’ money.”

A Serco spokesperson said: "Serco has played an important part in helping to reach hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise have passed on the virus.

"Our team of call handlers has been 93 per cent successful in persuading people to isolate where we are able to have conversations.”