Government research finds public service ethos ‘rekindled’ after transfer of HMP Birmingham from public to private sector

31 July 2015

New government research released into the transfer of HMP Birmingham from the public to private sector reports a higher quality of life for both staff and prisoners and says that after the transfer to G4S, the notion of public service among staff had been “rekindled”.

The National Offender Management Service conducted a three-year quality of life study at HMP Birmingham following its transfer from the public sector to G4S in 2011. The study has found that quality of life has improved, staff morale is higher and a public service ethos is thriving.

Prison Rating System scores released separately yesterday gave the prison a rating of 3, the second highest rating possible.

HMP Birmingham director Pete Small said:

“I’m immensely proud of what the staff here have achieved. We faced a difficult task when we took over HMP Birmingham and I want to pay tribute to my staff who have maintained a safe and secure environment while pushing performance upwards in a number of key areas so that we now have a stable, embedded regime. 

“This research is an endorsement of that approach and today’s PRS scores confirm that we continue to make good, steady progress at what is a very challenging prison.”

HMP Birmingham has shown continuous improvement since the transfer to private management. In 2012, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons said that the prison was “cleaner, safer and more decent place” just three months after the transfer. Today’s data follows an independent inspection report published in 2014 where inspectors found that Birmingham was “making good progress” despite undergoing significant change.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Seven of the 21 prisoner quality of life dimensions improved significantly from 2011 to 2013: ‘respect/courtesy’; ‘humanity’; ‘decency’; ‘care for the vulnerable’; ‘staff-prisoner relationships’; ‘fairness’; and ‘personal autonomy’. The other dimensions were found to also have improved.
  • Prisoners’ overall ‘quality of life’ score improved each year of the study, but it remained low compared to other local prisons.
  • In 2012 there were ten significant differences between dimension mean scores for White and Black/Minority Ethnic (BME) prisoners, where BME prisoners reported lower scores, primarily concentrated in the ‘harmony’ and ‘professionalism’ categories, suggesting perceived discrimination. In 2013, the only significant difference was in the overall quality of life score. Both of these groups rated their quality of life higher in 2013 than in 2012 and 2011.
  • For all staff, 17 of the 18 dimension mean scores moved in a positive direction from 2012 to 2013, 13 of them at a statistically significant level. In particular, ‘attitudes towards the senior management team’, ‘recognition and personal efficacy’, ‘safety, control and security’, and ‘relationships with line management’ all improved from 2011 and 2012 levels in 2013.
  • Overall staff quality of life improved particularly significantly from 2012 to 2013, reflecting a settling down, a stabilising of the workforce, and growing confidence in their leadership.

For further information please contact media manager Matt Magee on 020 7963 3170 / +44 (0)7841 982 838 or

The full research can be found here 

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About G4S

G4S is the world’s leading secure outsourcing group, specialising in outsourcing of business processes in sectors where security and safety risks are considered a strategic threat.

G4S is the largest employer quoted on the London Stock Exchange and has a secondary stock exchange listing in Copenhagen. G4S has operations in more than 125 countries and over 620,000 employees.

For more information on G4S, visit  

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