The news that Birmingham Prison is coming back under public control should be the start of the journey that sees the termination of all private sector contracts in English prisons.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 2 April) that it welcomed the decision that Birmingham was coming back under HM Prison Service control in July.

This follows an excoriating report by the chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke that likened the Birmingham establishment, run by controversial outsourcing giant G4S, to ‘a war zone’, with inmates walking around ‘like zombies’.

Unite said that there are a number of private sector contracts across the estimated 118 prisons in England and Wales. There are 14 prisons managed by private companies.

Last August, prisons minister Rory Stewart said he will resign in a year if he had not managed to reduce drugs and violence levels in 10 target jails in England.

Unite regional officer Caren Evans said: “We welcome the news that the Justice ministry has decided to terminate G4S’ Birmingham contract. It was almost inevitable following the chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke’s damning report into its appalling stewardship of the prison.

“Prisons minister Rory Stewart pledged last summer that he would resign if he had not managed to reduce the level of drugs and violence in England’s prisons.

“Unite would suggest that one way that Rory Stewart can keep to his bold pledge is that all outsourced contracts relating to prisons in  England are terminated as speedily as practical.

“Once again, the outsourcing model being imposed on public services has been found to be flawed and wanting – remember it was G4S that was responsible for the security shambles at the 2012 London Olympics.”   

Unite has a number of members at Birmingham Prison whose jobs include building maintenance and mental health nursing.  

Last month, Unite called for the Amey maintenance contract covering all the prisons in the north of England and the  Midlands to be brought back in-house, after what it described as Amey’s ‘total mishandling’  of the contract over the last four years.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065


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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.