Undercover filming reveals the failure of the Tories’ privatised prisons

Undercover footage shows prisoners incapacitated by drugs [Image: BBC].

The inability of the so-called ‘party of law and order’ to maintain any semblance of it – in prisons – is now a national scandal.

Only a few months ago, in December, we learned of riots in state-run prisons such as Bedford, due to staff shortages.

At the time, This Writer stated that handing more prisons over to private companies “would be begging for even worse events. These companies are only concerned with profit and should not be allowed anywhere near custody of other human beings. Corners will be cut in order to make more money from contracts. Inmates – and staff – will suffer.”

Now we have evidence of “even worse events” – in a privately-run prison. HMP Northumberland is run by Sodexo Justice Services.

It was privatised in 2014, when the government was aiming to cut £500m from the prisons budget. That makes it a Chris Grayling project, This Writer believes.

To win the contract, Sodexo pledged to save the taxpayer £130m over 15 years. Two hundred jobs, including 96 prison officer posts, were cut.

At the time of the deal, the Prison Officers Association warned it could result in “escapes and riots”.

The Panorama report shows prisoners incapacitated by drugs, officers sometimes left on their own to manage large groups of inmates, and inmates threatening staff.

The undercover reporter, who was working as a custody officer, was told by some staff they did not feel able to confront prisoners because they were worried back-up support would take too long to arrive.

How prophetic the Prison Officers Association was!

The current Justice Secretary – and the person who should be charged with sorting out this unholy mess of her party’s making – is Liz Truss, a woman who can be better relied upon to get het up about cheeses.

So, if you are a prison officer, concerned about the ruin of Her Majesty’s corrective system under the Conservatives, This Writer’s advice is as follows:

Don’t hold your breath waiting for any improvement, and vote Labour if you ever get the opportunity again!

Chaos in one of the biggest prisons in the country has been revealed in secret filming for the BBC.

An undercover reporter spent two months at HMP Northumberland, which houses up to 1,348 male inmates, for Panorama.

He discovered widespread drug use, a lack of control, door alarms that did not go off in one block and a hole in an internal security fence.

Prison officers also found balaclavas, blackout clothing and wire-cutting tools at the category C jail.

It is believed inmates had been sneaking out to collect drugs or other contraband thrown over the perimeter fence.

These discoveries were made in a block where inmates preparing to transfer to open prisons were not locked in their cells at night.

The Ministry of Justice said it would investigate the “extremely serious allegations” at the Acklington jail.

Source: Undercover Panorama report reveals prison chaos – BBC News

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7 thoughts on “Undercover filming reveals the failure of the Tories’ privatised prisons

  1. NMac

    All the Tories are interested in is making some money for themselves and their equally loathsome, selfish and greedy chums. Law and order doesn’t even enter into it as far as they are concerned.

  2. Jules


    The Uk Government may not have a legal mandate to trigger article 50(1) on behalf of the UK people. This is quite serious and I don’t understand why no one is talking about this.

    Brexit is being triggered by a Government that may have cheated to win. It is Alleged that the Conservatives spent too much money campaining in 29 constituencies during elections. They hold a majority of just 16. A50(1) says EU exit can be done by a Government with a Mandate to do this. If the Conservatives did break the rules they are not our legitimate government, thus had no mandate to call the EU exit referendum and can not trigger A50.

    The Police and Electoral Commission are investigating. If there is any truth in this in needs to be established in less than 90 days.

    Without being a majority holding government the Conservatives would not have been able to start this process as article 50(1) requires a properly lected Government with a majority holding – the Conservatives got a majority of only 16, yet they apparently cheated in 29…you do the maths.

    The referendum on in/out of th EU was called by a party who may have broken real rules to limit expenditure in any UK constituency to enhance ther chance of winning national elections in 2015. That is election rigging, no less than the ruling partyof Mugabe, and other apparently legitimately elected governments have done. We chastise those governments yet seem to be unwilling to press for closure on real and true investigations going on right now for the last 20 months by our own police and Electoral Commission.

    During 13 of those months the current Prime Minister was the Home Secretary, the person in charge of the police. So it’s really no surprise the investigation is dragging on…

    1. Dez

      Not sure this good response is on the correct topic page however I find it frustrating that this bit of skulduggery is being ignored by the powers that be whilst labour and liberals have had their backsides kicked and fined for their failings. Meanwhile the far more important vote enhancing by the Cons goes on and on and should be dealt with urgently as it deals with the real balance of power because of the small Cons majority. Why has nothing been heard surely to God one or two cases must have been heard by now especially Thanet where the Farage was wiped out by the Cons.
      Is the issue to difficult for this Country to admit we are as bad as the third world voting records or more likely we have the wrong party members on the Electoral Commission finding it hard to call it for what it is…..A total Con which if correct throws the whole referendum question out on its backside.

  3. Dez

    I can only guess the reason the officers allow abuse of the system is for a quiet life on their watch or as with the previous issue with the curfew anklets a bung was in the offering. However whatever the real reason once again privatisation is the same old game ie dangle a juicy carrot in front of a procurement civil servant and his boss will snatch it and make credit for the alleged saving. They never come in fact in just goes down hill from then on just as exactly as you laid out ie cut back staff, resources, assets to make the deal make money……and if you can’t just threaten to go public on the fact that the contractor cannot make money and give them more dosh to keep them quiet….. Then some bright young accountant will eventually wake up that it would be cheaper to take the whole crock of poo back in house where it rightly belongs and should never have left. Could do with a few more MPs and Bankers in prison so they can see what value for money smells like

  4. Barry Davies

    Labour’s Private prisons are equally as bad, they are understaffed to produce a cheaper cost then when the lid blows off it is the home office officers who have to sort it out.

  5. chriskitcher

    Outsourcing prisons to private enterprise just shows how low this country has gone in relation to discharging its duties. We all accept the rule of law and the notion that if some one is a danger to society their freedoms must be curtailed.
    I believe that it is the duty of the government to ensure that this is done by government. It is wrong for a private company or organisation to be responsible for depriving a citizen of the right to freedom.
    Private enterprise merely wants to generate the maximum profit for shareholders/owners and this means doing the minimum possible to ensure the maximum profits.
    Its time to take back state control of prisons and ensure that government discharges its responsibilities properly.

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