"Clear determination" to make progress at Birmingham prison, say inspectors

  • 28 Jun 2017 08:00
A report into G4S-managed HM Prison Birmingham published today by independent inspectors says that there is a “clear determination” at the facility to rebuild and make progress after serious disorder in December last year
HMP Birmingham

Inspectors from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) reported seeing many positive interactions between staff and prisoners and said that relationships were generally “respectful”.  
 
The prison’s population was said to be a “complex mix” with 500 new arrivals each month, the oldest aged 90 and nearly half of the men unsentenced or serving less than six months.  Men typically stay at the prison for an average of only six weeks and while inspectors found a “good range” of education and training to meet the needs of the short-term population, they said that attendance at many of the sessions needed to improve.  
 
Inspectors also said that more needed to be done to tackle the availability of drugs.  The report recognised the prison’s “good partnership work” with West Midlands Police, which last month saw a man charged with using drones to fly drugs into the facility, and said that like other prisons, the availability of drugs had increased violence, debt and bullying.  They reported that prison staff needed to be more consistent in dealing with poor behaviour and setting appropriate boundaries.        
 
G4S HMP Birmingham Quote
The inspection took place six weeks after disturbances in December 2016, which led to 500 prisoners being moved out to allow four severely damaged wings to be refurbished.  The report is published in the same week that the damaged wings fully re-open and the availability of prison places returns to 1,450, the level before the disturbance.
 
Responding to today’s report, the director for HMP Birmingham, Richard Stedman, who was appointed in April 2017, said:

“Today’s report is a fair assessment of the very real challenges we face at HMP Birmingham.  Like many other local city-centre prisons, we are a target for organised crime gangs who try to smuggle drugs into our facility.  Drones are a constant threat and although we have a strong partnership with West Midlands Police to prosecute those who try to get contraband in, we are looking at new technology to help us to thwart this pernicious trade that undermines safety and feeds violence, debt and bullying.

“We are also committed to recruiting additional prison officers and by September we are aiming to have 30 more prison officers than our target for the establishment.  We have also changed the regime to improve staff and prisoner safety.  These measures will help us to reduce staff turnover, set firm boundaries for prisoners and improve consistency in challenging poor or unacceptable behaviour by those who turn to violence.

“We are resolute in our determination to move on, make progress and not be defined by December’s disorder and this week the prison returns to its full operational capacity.  Many prisoners will stay at Birmingham for only a very short amount of time and we are committed to ensuring they go on to other prisons or released into the community more willing to engage positively with others and less likely to turn to crime.”