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Government to continue to run 'fragile' HMP Birmingham

By Jack Averty | Birmingham | News | Published:

The government is to continue to run crisis-hit HMP Birmingham after it warned the prison remains in a "fragile" state.

HMP Birmingham

Private contractor G4S was temporarily stripped of the jail back in August last year after an inspection uncovered “appalling” squalor and violence, with a warning the jail had “slipped into crisis” following a “dramatic deterioration”. It followed a large-scale riot at the prison in 2016.

The government announced it was to take over the running of the jail for an initial six months, but this has now been extended for a further six.

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart warned removing the government's support now "risks jeopardising the progress made".

He said: “We have been clear that the situation at HMP Birmingham was unacceptable, and that the step-in was not only necessary but would be extended unless we were satisfied that sufficient progress had been made.

“While I am confident that the action taken has begun to arrest the decline and brought signs of improvement, the situation remains fragile and removing the support now risks jeopardising the progress made.

“We have therefore taken the decision to extend the step-in until the summer, when the position will be reviewed. This will provide time for the changes we are making to bed in, for improvements to gather pace, and for a conclusion to be reached on the longer-term future of the prison.”

A spokesman for G4S, which also runs HMP Oakwood in South Staffordshire, said: "We are continuing to work closely with the Ministry of Justice to bring about improvements at HM Prison Birmingham."

Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons across the UK, said he was “astounded” by the deterioration at HMP Birmingham since it was last inspected in February 2017.

“There has clearly been an abject failure of contract management and delivery,” he concluded.

Jack Averty

By Jack Averty
Senior Reporter - @javerty_star

Reporter with the Express & Star, based at head office in Wolverhampton

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