Over the weekend HMP Birmingham, a privately run prison, experienced one of the worst riots it has witnessed in decades.
The G4S-run Birmingham – formerly known as Winson Green – witnessed a riot which resulted in 200 plus prisons having to be relocated after that took control of the prison. In a recent independent monitoring board report concerns were raised in October about the “increasingly difficult behaviour of individual prisoners coupled with staffing shortages”. This warning seemingly was ignored by the Government.
Given that the level of assaults on staff and prisoners and that the level of disorder in prisons generally is higher in the private sector per 100 prisoners than it is in the public sector, I asked the Secretary of State if she would tell us how many of these extra staff are going to be employed by the private sector, over whose recruitment she has no direct control?
I obtained these figures from the independent House of Commons Library.
The Justice Secretary said that the Government is moving towards a staff to prisoner ratio of 1:6 in both private and public prisons. However, wanting to move towards a safe ratio and actually achieving it are two very different points. Currently, staffing in prisons is too low – a problem of the Government’s own making – and this desire for 1:6 ratio is just another sign of Governmental failure.