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Unions call for public control over private prisons

Unions are calling for public control over private prisons after outsourcing giant G4S is permanently stripped of its contract to run the troubled HMP Birmingham. “For the Prison Officers’ Association, the return of Birmingham to the public sector was welcome. ‘We have campaigned tirelessly since it was wrongly privatised in 2011 to have it returned to the state,’ POA chair Mark Fairhurst said. ‘The more recent events enabled us to pressurise the government into making what is undoubtedly the correct decision for staff, prisoners and the taxpayer.’ But Fairhurst said other private prisons must follow suit. ‘The obsession this Tory Government has to outsource and privatise public sector work must cease. It is obvious that when you put profits above safety you sow the seeds of disorder, mismanagement, cover ups and misery.’”

Source: The Big Issue

G4S stripped of contract to run Birmingham prison

G4S is to be permanently stripped of its contract to run Birmingham prison after the government was forced to take control of the failing jail. The Ministry of Justice took the unprecedented step of seizing control of the prison last August, removing its governor and moving out hundreds of prisoners, hours before a severely critical report was published by the prisons inspectorate.

Source: the Guardian

Private contractors paid millions to run UK detention centres

The British government has paid hundreds of millions of pounds to private contractors to run its detention facilities, but no one knows for certain just how profitable the industry is. “One of the 10 UK facilities is run by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, but the rest are contracted out to outsourcing firms G4S, Mitie, Serco and the US-owned GEO Group. (…) Commercial confidentiality agreements mean the Home Office and outsourcing companies are not obliged to publish detailed financial information about immigration detention centers in the UK. But figures released under freedom of information laws and published on the government’s Contracts Finder website show the value of some contracts when they were awarded. (…) The profitability of detention facilities has proved to be a contentious issue for the contractors. A Guardian investigation last year pointed to a 20.7% profit margin at the G4S-owned Brook House in 2016, while at Tinsley House the margin was 41.5%. (…) GEO Group, which operates Dungavel House, Scotland’s only detention center, may be making up to 30% profits on its contract, according to an analysis by Corporate Watch.”

Scrapping plans to build new private prisons

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Richard Burgon has set out his party’s position on tackling the prisons crisis, calling on the government to fund a five point plan, including scrapping plans to build new private prisons. “In the case of HMP Birmingham, the jail was taken out of the hands of its private operator, G4S, and returned to state control for at least six months as officials battle to reduce violence, drug use and disorder.”

Privatisation and austerity combined in prison crisis

On 20 August the UK government was forced to take back control of a privatised prison in Birmingham in central England following a damning report by the prisons inspectorate. The prison had been run since 2011 by the G4S group, one of three multinationals that run 14 prisons in England.

Source: www.epsu.org

The failures of privatization have become undisguisable

The failures of privatization “have long been evident. But in 2018, with the renationalization of Birmingham Prison and the East Coast Main Line, they have become undisguisable.” In March 2011, officials boasted that the privatization of the prison to G4S would “would deliver ‘innovation, efficiency and better value for money’ without ‘compromising standards.’ Seven years later, such lofty ambitions appear risible.” Nor are problems confined to Birmingham. “Britain's ‘inhumane’ prisons are crumbling, with a backlog of 80,000 repair jobs. (…) Latest figures show around a third of repairs are contracted out to private firm Amey. Almost all the rest were under Carillion and now handled by Government. Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon called it a ‘disaster’ of privatization. He said: ‘It's the disastrous effect of the Tory privatization obsession. The contract for maintenance works, worth hundreds of millions, failed to deliver savings promised.’”

Source: www.newstatesman.com