Birmingham prison privatisation deal ‘hit staff morale’
A NEW report has blasted the controversial privatisation of Birmingham Prison – claiming it took too long and hit staff morale.
The Independent Monitoring Board’s last examination of the jail described staff and prisoner morale as “palpably low” during the handover from the public sector to private security firm G4S.
The company took over the running of the prison last October, but the process was “continually delayed” by the government’s bidding process, said the report.
The document said the takeover took too long to complete, with the process running from the initial announcement last March.
The Prison Service was also competing to retain control of the jail and the uncertainty surrounding the final privatisation decision was said to have caused uncertainty for inmates. But the report praised prison staff who continued to cope with increasing problems, such as gang culture.
It also recommended that “lessons be learned from HMP Birmingham’s experience” and that similar processes should be shortened. Nine other prisons will also go through the market-testing process.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We will formally respond to the IMB report on HMP Birmingham in due course.
“The public have a right to expect continuing improvement in the quality and efficiency of public services, without compromising public safety. The competition strategy and adjustments to the prison estate will help ensure that this is the case, while achieving best value for taxpayers.”
The takeover of Birmingham Prison was dogged by complaints over staff shortages. The prison was also placed on lockdown when a set of keys which fitted every door went missing soon after the privatisation process was completed. Independent Monitoring Boards are made up of volunteers, who study prison conditions and ensure proper standards of care and decency are maintained.