Earlier this year the privately run HMP Birmingham collapsed to such an extent that the UK Government had to nationalise it. Standards had slipped to completely unacceptable levels with prison officers and offenders safety being put at risk.
It is a prison that has experienced riots in the past and it was an utter failure of G4S to ensure they fulfilled their contractual agreements.
During the Justice Select Committee I was able to press the representative from G4S on what actions he had taken in the run up to the collapse of the prison and why he didn’t act sooner.
G4S’ contract to run the Brook House immigration removal centre has been extended for another two years. This comes less than a year after undercover footage broadcast by the BBC’s Panorama showed detainees at Brook House subjected to verbally and physically abused, amid drug abuse and suicide attempts.
I wanted to know how much to aborted tender process cost the UK taxpayer and was there more than one bidder when the contract came up for renewal. The response I received was muddled. The minister continued to repeat the phrase ‘due diligence’ but was unable to give specifics to my points.
I am concerned that a company has been given the rights to continue to provide this service without the necessary safeguards to protect either the taxpayer or those using the service.
Before Christmas it was announced that Oakhill Young Offenders Institute was failing on multiple measures. This is a site for some of our most troubled young offenders and we should be ensuring that we are providing a rehabilitation facility.
In March 2017, an officer suffered serious injuries after being attacked by detainees on a football pitch. This site is run by the private firm G4S. Each inspection has shown that G4S cannot manage the site.
This is an example of a private firm which is out of its depth. I asked the minister what does it take for a contract to be stripped from a firm when it has been shown to fail multiple times. Sadly, the minister stated that the contract has years left to run. I believe that if a firm is failing their duty of care its contractual arrangements with the Government should be reviewed and changed as necessary.