Did cuts in prison personnel embolden inmates to riot?

Canine units were deployed within the prison [Image: Joe Giddens/PA].

If Liz Truss wants those responsible for the riot at Birmingham Prison to “face the full force of the law”, will that include G4S, the firm running the jail – or indeed, HM Government, who employed G4S?

This Writer was watching a BBC News report about the riot and it stated that the arrival of the private operator had brought with it “efficiency savings” which meant fewer guards.

Prisoners realised that staff were becoming overstretched and that is why the disturbance happened, according to the report.

If so, then G4S is as responsible for what happened as the prisoners.

The people behind bars are convicted criminals. I know that is stating the obvious, but it seems to have escaped the notice of an international security firm.

Of course they’re going to attack, if they sense weakness.

But the true weakness doesn’t lie with G4S, pathetic though that firm really is. It lies with the Conservative Government that employed it.

Birmingham Prison was the first in the UK ever to be transferred into the hands of a private company, in 2011 – by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government.

Five years later, the institution has been rocked by a series of riots – this weekend’s was the fourth in recent weeks.

The rioters themselves have offered up their reasons, and they all boil down to the effects of privatisation: “The BBC was called during the fourth riot at the prison in six weeks by prisoners at the Winson Green jail. Prisoners said inadequate staffing, poor food and substandard medical care were behind the disturbance, as was being on ‘lockdown’ in their cells all day as a major factor contributing to [the] riot.”

So the harm was caused because of cost-cutting due to a Conservative-led Government employing a private firm to do the job of the public sector.

Justice Secretary at the time was Kenneth Clarke. What was he thinking?

Let’s see him explain it – from the dock.

Authorities have regained control of one of the country’s biggest jails after a major disturbance involving hundreds of inmates.

Specialist riot squads were deployed to HMP Birmingham to tackle the disorder that lasted more than 12 hours on Friday.

Trouble spread across four wings of the privately run facility, with reports of prisoners setting fire to stairwells, breaking a security chain and destroying paper records.

Specially trained prison guards, known as “Tornado” squads, from other parts of the country were backed up by about 25 riot police as they moved into the G4S-run jail, which has a capacity of 1,450 prisoners.

[Justice Secretary] Liz Truss said: “I want to pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the prison officers who resolved this disturbance … Violence in our prisons will not be tolerated and those responsible will face the full force of the law.”

Source: HMP Birmingham prison rioters will face ‘full force of law’, says Truss | Society | The Guardian

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12 thoughts on “Did cuts in prison personnel embolden inmates to riot?

  1. Jt Zoonie

    No they are not. They have never been. Look where the money goes straight into an mps pocket. It should not take much to see where the money goes.

  2. Barry Davies

    Prisoners depend on the prison officers for their safety, in my experience, when working in a prison this is the main problem with the privately run prisons, because they are inadequately staffed by poorly trained officers. Every time there is a riot the public service home office trained and employed officers from surrounding prisons has to attend to control and redress the situation, meaning they are left undermanned s well. Winson Green before it was privatised supplied excellent medical care for prisoners, inclusive of post op care, but clearly G4S have allowed this aspect to either be transferred to a different facility or just closed it down to save money. Locking people up for extended periods of time might seem to be the easy way to deal with staff shortages but it always comes back to bite you because the prisoners get wound up and plan the revolt so that they all know when it is going down.

  3. Thomas Walker

    Speaking from experience, when you spend more money on feeding the dogs who guard the people in jail, than the people jail,it’s not surprising you have problems.

  4. Jeffrey Davies

    i wonder who does the grub there a american company just like our pigs swill our forces get hmmm but g4s up before the beak nah they just get awarded more contracts more backhanders to the tory party the more they flunk

  5. Anita

    A relative of mine was a prison officer until being made redundant a few years ago. The govt was then hiring people on minimum wages and new contracts to replace the experienced officers. Morale is rock bottom. Some officers took redundancy and looked for other jobs but were forced to return on the new contracts because there were no jobs that paid any better. They are always understaffed as many off with stress. Many prisoners shouldn’t even be in prison either they are mentally ill not bad.

  6. NMac

    Prisons, like most other nationalised industries are seen by the Tories as just another money-making cash cow. They don’t care a fig for either the inmates or the guards – just how much money they can make.

  7. John Myers

    Down 2 the Tory government simple as that they don’t represent the people they are a body of people that’s a threat 2 the country they do nothing 4 the good of the country they do it 4 the Tory party they wipe out jobs especially public service jobs that are usually a secure employment long term 4 people and benefit society they will employ people that aren’t fully trained b’cos it’s cheaper not b’cos they are more efficient.

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