Information obtained by Labour’s Shadow Minister for Government Transparency, Louise Haigh MP, after a prolonged battle with the Ministry of Justice, has revealed that “repeated and serious failings” at some of the country’s most high profile prisons resulted in over a hundred fines for contractor G4S.
The reasons for the fines, termed “financial remedies” by the government, could include serious incidents such as hostage taking or concerted indiscipline as well as inadequate staffing levels.
- At HMP Rye Hill, the most heavily fined G4S run institution, which is now solely used for sex offenders, the prison has suffered security breaches since it was created and built by G4S including a prisoner escape, a reported hostage situation and an apparent suicide. HMP Rye Hill was fined more than £1million on 38 separate occasions from 2010-15. G4S have been paid almost £1bn of public money since being awarded the contract.
- HMP Altcourse has been dubbed “the most dangerous prison for staff” in the country with prison guards assaulted more than 150 times in 2014 and 28 separate fines incurred.
- At Medway Youth Training Centre a BBC Panorama investigation revealed endemic child abuse but the contractor was fined just £700.
- In total, G4S-run institutions have received fines totalling £2.7m since 2010 – but G4S revenues on the contracts run into billions.
After a three-month long wrangle with the MOJ Justice Secretary Michael Gove was eventually forced to give an embarrassing apology to Ms Haigh in the Commons and his Department is now subject to an inquiry by the House of Commons all-party Procedure Committee for failing to answer Parliamentary Questions on the subject.
The data showed that G4S was fined on over 100 occasions for breach of contract in just five years (2010-15). G4S run eight prisons in the UK, including 3 youth jails.
Shadow Minister for Government Transparency, Louise Haigh MP, said:
“The taxpayer forks out billions to private contractors like G4S, yet the Ministry of Justice had to be dragged kicking and screaming to reveal repeated and serious failings at some of our most high-profile prisons.”
“At HMP Rye Hill, which houses serious sex offenders, there were serious breaches on no fewer than 38 separate occasions and yet the public was utterly oblivious.”
“It is a scandal that G4S are happy to take our money, repeatedly fail, and then hide it from us.”
“And at Medway YTC were an investigation revealed endemic child abuse, G4S were fined a mere £700 in the five years to 2015. The MoJ like to talk tough but this proves they are unwilling or unable to hold private contractors to account on our behalf.”
“This is exactly why Freedom of Information urgently needs to be extended to private contractors who are now receive over £100bn in public contracts but can operate in the shadows.”