The UK’s largest privately run prison, Oakwood, has found to be failing to tackle drug use or give effective support to inmates.
The prison, run by G4S, opened in April 2012 and houses around 1,600 inmates. A report into the prison has produced findings that Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick says are “unquestionably concerning”.
G4S have said that opening a new prison is a challenging operation and they have already taken steps to tackle problems, reports the BBC.
HMP Oakwood also came under fire in July this year due to it being one of two private prisons to receive the Ministry of Justice’s lowest rating.
Commenting on the latest report, the Howard League’s chief executive, Frances Crook, said: “This private prison has been open for a a year-and-a-half and it is getting worse not better.
“On a payment-by-results model it would be closed because G4S are being paid for it and it is not delivering results.”
In the four main test areas, safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement, the prison was recorded as either insufficient or poor.
An unannounced visit in June found that illicit drugs “were easily available” and drug usage was high. One in seven of the prisoners said that they had developed a drug problem while at the prison. As well as heroin and a synthetic drug, inspectors found prescribed medication was also in circulation, with severe criticism of the healthcare department in the prison.
HMI Prisons also highlighted that administration of medication was “chaotic”. Many inmates missed does, and inspectors found that “tradable” medications were “routinely prescribed” with multiple ways for them to find their way into the prison population.
In response, Mr Petherick, from G4S, said: “We have already taken steps to make improvements, appointing a dedicated taskforce to address problem areas, such as the prevalence of drugs, while providing additional funding where necessary. This is starting to yield results.
“Today we can see a reduction in the amount of drugs entering the establishment, the use of force is reducing and better care, sentence plans and resettlement arrangements for prisoners are being put in place.
“We are also working with the Ministry of Justice and the healthcare and education providers, who do not report to us, to address the issues raised in this report.”
HMP Oakwood’s rehabilitation work with sex offenders also fell under criticism in the HMI report. Inspectors said that there was no planned approach for addressing the behaviour of those inmates, many of whom “were in denial of their offending”.
“A large number of these prisoners were due for release without their offending having been addressed,” the report said.