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HMP Birmingham: G4S loses permanent contract

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102216468 screenshot2018 06 26at18.07.18 - HMP Birmingham: G4S loses permanent contract

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The Prison Service initially took over HMP Birmingham, also known as Winson Green, in August 2018

Birmingham Prison is being permanently taken back into public ownership in a move which will end G4S’s involvement with the jail, BBC News has learned.

The private security company was awarded a 15-year contract to operate HMP Birmingham in 2011.

In August 2018, Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, said the jail had fallen into a “state of crisis” and was the worst he had come across.

The Prison Service took it over, initially for six-months, in August.

That was extended by a further six months in February, but the department, part of the Ministry of Justice, has now decided to terminate G4S’s contract completely.

G4S declined to comment until an official ministerial announcement was made, which may be as early as tomorrow.

‘Mutual decision’

In 2011, the government gave two estimates for the annual value of the contract to run HMP Birmingham – £21.1m to £31.2m.

The contract was due to run until September 2026.

It is the second time in three years that G4S has lost a major public sector contract after it was forced to transfer the management of Medway Secure Training Centre to the government in 2016, after secret BBC filming showed staff allegedly mistreating children held there.

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There have been a number of large-scale riots at the prison in recent years

The company continues to operate four other jails, Altcourse, Oakwood, Parc and Rye Hill, as well as two immigration removal centres near Gatwick Airport – Brook House and Tinsley House.

HMP Birmingham will formally be returned to the public sector in July with staff automatically moving across.

Sources said it was a “mutual decision” which would work to everyone’s benefit.

Although there have been some improvements at HMP Birmingham, conditions at the jail are believed to remain extremely difficult with very high levels of violence.

Inspectors are due to return shortly to assess what progress has been made.

Roger Swindells, chairman of HMP Birmingham’s Independent Monitoring Board, which conducts regular visits to the jail, said transferring it back to the public sector was “good news”.

“I’m pleased there’s some clear direction,” he said.

“It takes away the uncertainty – prisoners and staff have lived under a cloud for the past seven months.”

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