Government to re-nationalise the UK’s first privately-run prison

Eight deaths and a string of dire warnings has forced the Government to re-nationalise the UK’s first privately-run prison in Birmingham

  • Prisoners have been smuggling in mobile phones and illicit substances
  • Contraband is delivered using drones with 32 seized in just six months
  • Officials have condemned conditions in the nation’s prisons as most disturbing

The decision to seize back control of Birmingham Prison is the culmination of months of increasingly dire warnings.

Campaigners told of chronic overcrowding and surging violence in chaotic, drug-soaked institutions.

Shocking images regularly posted online highlight how inmates are taking advantage of acute low staffing and spiralling morale.

As well as smuggling in mobile phones, illicit substances and other luxury items, many boast about their ‘easy life’ behind bars.

Contraband is often delivered using drones, 32 of which have been seized in just six months – more than one a week.

Shocking images regularly posted online highlight how inmates are taking advantage of acute low staffing and spiralling morale in HMP Birmingham 

Incredibly, it was recently revealed prisoners in Cheshire were cooking sausages, bacon, fish and steaks simply thrown over the fence.

Specialist teams have been sent in to quell explosions of violence –including at Birmingham following a 15-hour riot in 2016.

Officials have condemned conditions in the nation’s prisons as the ‘most disturbing’ ever seen. Just a few weeks ago inspectors said jails were rife with violence, drugs, suicide and self-harm.

One report said the living standards in some institutions ‘have no place in an advanced nation in the 21st century’.


  • Chief prison inspector issues ‘urgent warning’ to justice…


    Former Birmingham prison officer says jail is out of control…

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Chief inspector Peter Clarke singled out conditions at HMP Liverpool, where some convicts were forced to live in damp cells with exposed electrical wiring and infested with rats and cockroaches.

Standards at HMP Nottingham, a Category B prison, were so bad it was feared this was driving inmates to kill themselves. Eight men had taken their own lives in the two years to January.

Amid concerns staff cannot cope with chronic overcrowding, jails have been hit by record levels of assaults and self-harm.

Figures show the number of attacks on staff and inmates has doubled since 2012 to a record 29,485 last year – or one every 18 minutes. 

Incidents of self-harm also rose from 23,158 in 2012 to 44,651 last year. Meanwhile, the number of prison officers has fallen by 8,000 – nearly 20 per cent – since 2010.


As well as smuggling in mobile phones, illicit substances and other luxury items, many boast about their ‘easy life’ behind bars 

In January Mr Clarke used new powers to demand ministers improve a ‘fundamentally unsafe’ jail.

He issued an ‘urgent notification’, requiring the Justice Secretary to make an action plan to tackle ‘serious failures’ at HMP Nottingham.

Rattled by the scale of the crisis engulfing jails in England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has been busy trying to re-establish control.

Last week prisons minister Rory Stewart said he would resign in a year if he does not reduce drug and violence levels at ten target jails.

He made the promise as the Government announced £10million to improve security and conditions.

Officials hope body scanners and sniffer dogs will help clamp down on smuggling of drugs, including Spice, and mobile phones.

Ministers want to raise standards of leadership by sending prison governors to military-style colleges.

There will also be a programme of repairs and improvements to cell windows and perimeter security.

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