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HMP Birmingham: Correspondence published

11 December 2018

The Justice Committee publishes correspondence from the Comptroller & Auditor General of the National Audit Office (NAO), Sir Amyas Morse KCB.


The correspondence follows a request from the Chair of the Committee, Bob Neill MP, for the NAO to provide information on HMP Birmingham – in particular, a review of the contractual relationship between the Ministry of Justice and G4S.

The letter sets out:

  • Some brief background and context on HMP Birmingham
  • An explanation of the arrangements for governance and oversight of the contract
  • A timeline of key events from the disturbance in 2016 up to the point of step-in.

Session on 11 December

The Committee questions officials from the Ministry of Justice and HMPPS, the new prison Governor and G4S on problems at HMP Birmingham identified in HMIP's Urgent Notification and inspection report

Following this, the Committee holds the final evidence session of its long-running inquiry Prison Population 2022: planning for the future.

HMP Birmingham example of crisis in our prisons

Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:

“The diabolical situation at HMP Birmingham – highlighted by the recent HMIP report – is one of the worst examples of the crisis in our prisons.

I am grateful to Sir Amyas Morse for the information provided to our inquiry, but the stark findings will surely be of serious concern not only across Government and the prison sector, but for the wider public too.

I am particularly alarmed to learn that the prison was returned to capacity only a few months after rioting had put whole blocks out of action, that there was ongoing instability and both the MoJ and G4S were concerned about staffing levels.

G4S and the Ministry were discussing a project to replace windows in May 2017 but, as we learned from the Chief Inspector's Urgent Notification, almost all windows in the old blocks were still broken the following year in August 2018.

Why did HMPPS not serve contractual improvement notices until March this year, nine months after it first threatened to do so? The MoJ imposed financial deductions on G4S but deductions against the ‘Contract Delivery Indicators' were only 1% of the value of the contract, arguably an inadequate figure to have any impact.

This was an abject failure to provide a decent prison and I will be demanding reassurance from the MoJ and the Minister that lessons have been learned and that such situations can never happen again.”

Further information

Image: MoJ