MoJ takes over control of G4S run jail

20 Aug 18

The government has today taken over the running of HMP Birmingham days after a shocking inspector’s report on the privately-managed men’s prison.

The Ministry of Justice will put in place one of the prison service’s “best governors” after HM chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke wrote to justice secretary David Gauke of his “significant concerns”.

Raising an ‘urgent notification’, Clarke called on the MoJ to take immediate action to address the “squalor, violence, prevalence of drugs and looming lack of control” at the jail.

The inspector, in an unannounced inspection of the prison between 30 July and 9 August, found rising levels of violence with 71% of prisoners saying they felt unsafe in HMP Birmingham and “prisoners isolating themselves in their cells, refusing to emerge because of their fear of violence”.

“I was astounded that HMP Birmingham had been allowed to deteriorate so dramatically over the 18 months since the previous inspection,” Clarke wrote. 

“There has clearly been an abject failure of contract management and delivery.”

The executive agency HM Prison and Probation Service has recently been working with the prison’s private operator G4S to “drive up standards at the prison”, the MoJ said today.

But prisons minister Rory Stewart admitted: “What we have seen at Birmingham is unacceptable and it has become clear that drastic action is required to bring about the improvements we require.”

The HMPPS will now take over the prison in accordance with the Criminal Justice Act 1991 for an initial six-month.

The MoJ said this would be done “at no additional cost to the taxpayer”.

At least 30 of the HMPPS officers will be deployed to Birmingham and the jail’s capacity will be reduced by 300 places while improvement action is underway.

This follows an announcement by Stewart on Friday last week the MoJ has allocated a £10m package to trail an approach to improve standards and security in prisons.

A pilot will be run in 10 of the “most challenging prisons” in England, which have acute problems with high drug use, violence and building issues.

Those involved in the trial will be Hull, Humber, Leeds, Lindholme, Moorland, Wealstun, Nottingham, Ranby, Isis and Wormwood Scrubs.

The project will be up and running in all 10 prisons by the end of the year and tangible results will be expected within the following 12 months, the MoJ said.

  • Emily Twinch and Aishah Hussain

    Emily is deputy editor of PF and Aishah is a university student 

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