World's largest security contractor temporarily relieved of responsibility for running HMP Birmingham in latest scandal to hit company
THE INDEPENDENT - Joe Sommerlad @JoeSommerlad - Monday 20 August 2018 14:04
The Ministry of Justice has been forced to “step in” and take immediate temporary control of HMP Birmingham in the wake of a damning report into conditions in the privately-run prison.
The institution became the UK’s first public jail to enter private hands when G4S, the world’s largest security contractor, was awarded a 15-year contract to operate it in 2011.
But the government has now been forced to intervene after Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, reported a “dramatic decline” in standards since HMP Birmingham was last assessed in February 2017.
Mr Clarke said he was “astounded that HMP Birmingham had been allowed to deteriorate so dramatically” in 18 months and stated his staff had observed “some of the most disturbing evidence that inspectors... have seen in any prison.”
Gang violence was rife, the chief inspector noted, with bands of criminals allowed to behave “with near impunity” because dejected staff had lost control and often did not know where inmates were at a given time.
Communal areas were often filthy, with evidence of blood and vomit left uncleaned, vermin present and utilities left in disrepair
The findings follow a series of crises at the Victorian-era institution over the last two years, including a major 12-hour riot in 2016 involving 600 inmates, hundreds of incidents of assault, a rat infestation and wide uptake of the “zombie drug” spiceamong prisoners.
“I have inspected many prisons where drugs are a problem, but nowhere else have I felt physically affected by the drugs in the atmosphere,” Mr Clark said.
What will the takeover involve?
“What we have seen at Birmingham is unacceptable, and it has become clear that drastic action is required to bring about the improvements we require,” said prisons minister Rory Stewart.
As a result of the takeover, the government will assume control of HMP Birmingham for an initial six months, a period that could be extended if necessary, to restore order before G4S staff are invited to return.
Approximately 300 inmates will be transferred elsewhere to ease pressure on guards as a crackdown on indiscipline and contraband is enforced.
G4S will reportedly cover the cost of the takeover as the failings constitute a breach of contract, meaning the action will come at no additional cost to the government.
How has G4S responded?
“HMP Birmingham is an inner-city remand prison which faces exceptional challenges including increasingly high levels of prisoner violence towards staff and fellow prisoners”, said Jerry Petherick, managing director of G4S Custody and Detention Services.
“The well-being and safety of prisoners and prison staff is our key priority and we welcome the six month step-in and the opportunity to work with the Ministry of Justice to urgently address the issues faced at the prison.”
Who are G4S and what other controversies have they been involved with?
G4S is a British multinational based in Crawley, operating in more than 90 countries across the world and employing around 585,000 people.
The company was formed in 2004 as a result of a merger between the UK’s Securicor and Group 4 Falck of Denmark, but has since suffered a chequered history and been dogged by accusations of malpractice and mismanagement.
In September 2017, nine members of staff were suspended from its Brook House immigration centre near Gatwick Airport after an undercover crew from the BBC’s Panorama documentary series recorded evidence of employees “mocking, abusing and assaulting” detainees.
The Home Office announced the company would nevertheless retain its contract to run Brook House in May this year.
Panorama had previously reported another abuse scandal involving G4S in late 2015, this time using footage shot at the Medway Secure Training Centre, a young offenders institution in Rochester, Kent.
Criminal proceedings were brought against eight staff and the firm later handed control back to the Ministry of Justice in May 2016.
That same summer, the company was also embroiled in controversy in the US when it emerged Omar Mateen, who swore allegiance to Isis and killed 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida, was a former G4S employee. Mateen had worked for subsidiary G4S Secure Solutions in Jupiter, where a threat to kill a co-worker had been ignored.
In 2013, the company was taken to task after it emerged it had been overcharging the Ministry of Justice for the electronic tagging of criminals, some of whom had long since returned to prison or even died.
The Serious Fraud Office commenced a criminal investigation and G4S was forced to pay back £109m, according to the BBC.
The company also received a great deal of negative publicity surrounding the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when it emerged just 16 days before the event was due to commence that the company had failed to recruit enough staff, having signed a contract promising to deliver 24,000 elite security personnel.
As a result of the debacle, 3,500 members of the military had to be drafted in to cover the deficit and G4S’s then-chief executive, Nick Buckles, was hauled in front of parliament’s Home Affairs Committee to explain what he himself admitted had been a “humiliating shambles”, costing the company £70m.
Again in the US, G4S were embarrassed in August 2012 when three anti-nuclear protestors broke into a storage facility for weapons-grade uranium its staff were guarding in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of whom was an 82-year-old nun.
The trio, calling themselves “Transform Now Plowshares”, cut through perimeter fences and spent over two hours at the site hanging crime scene tape and painting slogans with “blood” on the walls before being apprehended.
But the death of Jimmy Mubenga, a 46-year-old father of five, in October 2010 while being restrained by three G4S security guards ahead of a deportation flight to Angola, remains one of the company’s most notorious failings.
An inquest jury found the guards in question guilty of unlawful killing in July 2013, after it emerged Mr Mubenga had cried out “I can’t breathe” during the incident.
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
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