G4S loses Birmingham prison contract as MoJ retains control
Prisons minister says state "better placed" to retain control of HMP Birmingham after stepping in last year
HMP Birmingham. Photo: PA
The Ministry of Justice will retain control of Birmingham prison permanently, it has confirmed, stripping G4S of its contract to manage the institution.
The MoJ seized control of HMP Birmingham from the contracting giant last August, after an inspection revealed widespread drink and drug use and violence. The inspection also found blood, vomit and cockroaches throughout the corridors.
The department had originally intended to hand control of the facility back to G4S once conditions had improved, but prisons minister Rory Stewart said yesterday it would stay under public management.
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“I am confident that HMP Birmingham has made good progress since the ‘step-in’ but to build on this, the prison needs stability and continuity,” Stewart said.
“That is why we have mutually agreed with G4S that the public sector is better placed to drive the long-term improvements required and the contract will end.”
However, Stewart stressed that the move did not signal a shift in government policy on contracting out prison services.
“We need to be absolutely clear that we still believe in a mixed economy of providers with some of our private prisons among the best performing in the country,” he said.
“This government believes passionately that private providers should continue to play a crucial role in our system,” he added.
Stewart said last year that HMPPS would be barred from bidding for contracts in the next competition to operate prisons.
Yesterday’s announcement brings the MoJ’s contract with G4S, which was awarded in 2011, to an end seven years early.
The outsourcer will pay £9.9m to cover the cost of last year’s “step in”, under a settlement with HM Prison and Probation Service.
The governor installed by the MoJ, Paul Newton, will stay in post and G4S staff at the prison will move onto HMPPS contracts on 1 July.
Jerry Petherick, managing director for custodial and detention services at G4S, said in a statement: “HMP Birmingham is an inner-city remand prison which faces exceptional challenges including high levels of prisoner violence towards staff and fellow prisoners.
“We believe that it is in the best interests of staff and the company that management of this prison is transferred to HMPPS and we will work closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure a smooth transition over the next three months.”
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