The Committee had a chance to question the Secretary of State for Justice about his duties. Many of you will have heard that the privately run prison HMP Birmingham finally collapsed and the UK Government had to step in to ensure that it continued to operate.
The UK Government have not been forthcoming with the exact figures for how this has cost the taxpayer and today I was able to get the Secretary of State to admit that this has cost us £9.9million.
This is money that could have been spent on recruiting more prison officers, police officers and improving our prison estate. Once again a private contractor has let us down.
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.
This week’s Justice Committee had the chance to question high ranking civil servants about the UK Government’s policy on prisons.
After the calamity that was both HMP Liverpool and HMP Birmingham over private contracts – indeed Birmingham was in that bad a state that G4S lost their role in running the prison and the Government had to nationalise it – I wanted to know what checks and balances were in place to ensure the suitability of contract bidders.
In both cases the private firms under-bid to secure the contracts only to find they couldn’t sustain them without running services into the ground on the cheap. The civil servants, obviously, must remain neutral – which is quite right – but they were struggling to provide the evidence to show the UK Government was doing its job in protecting our money.
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. Read more “Justice Statement: HMP Birmingham Riot”