THE PRISON Officers Association (POA) has condemned as ‘repugnant’ the Tory plan to hand over the running of two new prisons to privateers and has demanded a public inquiry into the matter.
HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire and HMP Wellingborough are being built from the public purse, but handed over to privateers to manage, run and profiteer from. In a parliamentary written answer, Tory prisons minister, Rory Stewart, confirmed that HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire will be privately run, while the MoJ has previously said HMP Wellingborough will be privately run.
In August, the Tories had to take the running of HMP Birmingham away from privateer G4S following reports of high levels of violence, drug use and self-harm. Shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, said: ‘Just how bad does it have to get until the government ends its obsession with the private sector running huge swathes of our justice system in order to make a quick profit?
‘This summer two flagship justice privatisations ran aground, with HMP Birmingham brought back under public control and the government forced to end the private probation contracts early. But the Tories refuse to learn the lessons.
‘There are very real fears that corners will be cut too as the private contractors running these new prisons put profits first. ‘There were 32,559 assault incidents in the 12 months to June, up 20% from the previous year, and 3,951 serious assaults, up 7%. Both of these figures are the highest on record. Among assaults, there were 9,485 attacks on staff in prisons, up 27%.’
Steve Gillan, POA General Secretary, told News Line yesterday: ‘We condemn the announcement. We were successful in convincing the government of the errors of making these new prisons Private Finance Initiative and we welcome the fact that this was abandoned by the chancellor.
‘But we now condemn the fact that public money will be used to build two new prisons only for them to be handed over to private companies so that they can earn a profit out of incarceration. ‘This isn’t just morally repugnant, it is a misuse of public money and there should be a public inquiry as to why the private sector is being allowed to bid for these prisons without and excluding the public sector.’