Birmingham Prison Taken Over By Government After 'State Of Crisis'

Birmingham Prison Taken Over By Government After ‘State Of Crisis’

Birmingham Prison is being taken over by the Government, after inspectors said they found it was the worst prison they had ever seen.

In an Urgent Notification letter to the Justice Secretary David Gauke, the Chief Inspector for Prisons said the prison had “slipped into crisis” in just 18 months.

They described prisoners hiding in their cells for up to 24 hours a day due to a fear of violence, with some still intimidated even then, with urine and faeces thrown into their rooms and mattresses stolen.

‘Surely Someone Must Have Been Asleep At The Wheel’

almost every window was broken in some parts of birmingham prison

In some parts of the prison, almost every window was broken. Image Credit: Pixabay

The damning findings also included an open smell of drugs throughout many parts of the prison, with one in seven prisoners saying they had developed a drugs problem since being admitted.

Case management of prisoners at risk of self-harm was also judged to be poor, with three inmates taking their lives in the last 18 months.

We saw evidence of bodily fluids left unattended, including blood and vomit. I saw a shower area where there was bloodstained clothing and a pool of blood that had apparently been there for two days, next to numerous rat droppings.

Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector

Staff were judged to lack both confidence and competence in key skills, with many anxious and fearful while doing their duties. The report described the staff as “difficult to find”, and some were also found asleep.

The letter added that communal areas were “filthy”, with widespread problems with cockroaches, rats and other vermin.

In older parts of the prison, virtually every window was broken.

Urgent Action Needed

David Gauke, Justice Minister

Justice Secretary David Gauke. Image Credit: Wikimedia

Justice Secretary David Gauke now has 28 days to develop an action plan for the prison, which includes taking it into temporary Government control. Currently, it is run by G4S.

A new governor will be brought in, as well as 30 extra staff. The capacity will be cut by 300 prisoners to 900.

While the relationship between prisoners has not always been simple, there are certain fundamental rights which apply to us all, prisoner or not.

These include the right to life, prohibition of torture, a fair trial, freedom from slavery and protection from retrospective laws.

Dignity, something at the very heart of our human rights, is also an important concept, especially with a view to the rehabilitation of inmates.

This is the only jail, and I’ve visited many jails now, where I personally was forced to leave a wing because of the effect the drugs were having on me.

Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart added that while the situation in Birmingham was “unacceptable”, he stressed “we have good, privately-run prisons across the country”.

A spokesperson for G4S added: “The wellbeing 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.”

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay and HM Inspectorate of Prisons

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About the Author

Jem Collins

Strategic Impact Director
Jem is the Strategic Impact Director for RightsInfo, working on increasing our reach across the UK and measuring our impact. Previously she was the News and Social Media Editor. She is also passionate about helping young people into the media and runs Journo Resources, a start-up which helps young people into the media, as well as serving as a trustee of the Student Publication Association. She is also one of the co-founders of The Second Source, a group to help end harassment in the media. Email Jem View all posts by Jem Collins.
Birmingham Prison Taken Over By Government After ‘State Of Crisis’
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