Private Prisons were originally introduced into the UK back in the 1990s. As it stands, there are 14 privately run prisons contractually managed by private companies, these include Sodexo Justice Services, GS4 and Serco Justice Services.
These companies have won contracts to privately run the following prisons:
• HMP Altcourse – G4S Justice Services
• HMP Ashfield – Serco Custodial Services
• HMP Bronzefield – Sodexo Justice Services
• HMP Doncaster – Serco Custodial Services
• HMP Dovegate – Serco Custodial Services
• HMP/YOI Forest Bank – Sodexo Justice Services
• HMP Lowdham Grange – Serco Custodial Services
• HMP Oakwood – G4S Justice Services
• HMP/YOI Parc – G4S Justice Services
• HMP Peterborough – Sodexo Justice Services
• HMP Rye Hill – G4S Justice Services
• HMP Thameside – Serco
• HMP Northumberland – Sodexo Justice Services
Private prisons aim to achieve higher expectations within the justice sector, the privately run prisons claim to use their correctional system at lower costs and with higher quality. Research on whether private prisons have in fact improved efficiency is yet to be seen but does not contain strong evidence that private prisons are more efficient than their public prisons.
Private Punishment – Who benefits?
There are insights into the pros and cons of running Private Prisons across our shores. The advantages of private prisons include lower operating cost, controlling the population of prisoners, and the creation of jobs in the community. The disadvantages of private prisons include a lack of cost-effectiveness, a lack of security and safety concerns, poor conditions, and the potential for corruption.
Recent analysis has shown that private prisons have a higher rate of violence compared to those being run by the public sector. September 2018 showed alone that there was a rise of 156 cases to every 1,000 of violent outbursts. This was seen as the significantly low levels of staff within the privately run prisons and lack of MIS Support.
The Conservative Government originally took the first steps toward privatising prisons in the early 1990s by issuing short-term contracts to security companies to operate a limited number of publicly owned prisons.
The analysis showed that 47% of prisoners are more likely to become violent than those being in held in public prisons.
Back in 2019, G4S was stripped of its contract to run HMP Birmingham and was taken over by the Government after being branded as the most violent prison in the UK and Wales after violence and drug abuse broke out across the prison. The jail, one of the largest in the country, had plunged into crisis under private management, according to damning findings by the chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke.
Ministers had hoped to restore management of the prison to G4S, which operates four other major prisons in the UK, but after extending the takeover in February to the end of summer, have decided to terminate the contract.
However, studies have also shown that Private run prisons have been known to have better control over the population levels by transporting prisoners to specific locations where there are greater needs. This lessens the threat of overcrowding on local systems while still allowing for profitability. Private prisons can lower the rates of reoffending.
Despite all of this, the Ministry of Justice still plans to build more prisons for private operation. Two new sites which were announced back in 2019, HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire and HMP Wellingborough in Northamptonshire are to be privately run, Wellingborough having been won by GS4 at a £300m contract. Work on Wellingborough, which will hold up to 1,700 inmates, is scheduled to open by early 2022.