April 1, 2019 / 4:40 PM / 22 days ago

Britain to take over Birmingham prison permanently from G4S

FILE PHOTO: Prison workers enter HMP Birmingham after the British government took over its running from G4S, in Birmingham, Britain August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Britain’s government will from July 1 permanently take over the running of Birmingham Prison from private operator G4S after inmate violence made the prison unmanageable.

The government took control from G4S, the world’s largest security company, last summer. The central England prison for 1,200 inmates, built in the 19th century, was deemed then by the chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke to be operating in “squalid” conditions.

The transfer on a permanent basis is in the best interests of the company and its staff, G4S prison services manager Jerry Petherick said.

“Birmingham is an inner-city remand prison which faces exceptional challenges including high levels of prisoner violence towards staff and fellow prisoners,” Petherick said in a statement.

The crisis is the latest challenge in Britain’s outsourcing sector after the collapse of contractor Carillion increased scrutiny of the government’s long practice of tendering public services to private sector operators.

G4S operates another four major British prisons.

The company said it had already made full provisions for future operating losses as a result of the contract in its 2018 accounts, without providing a figure.

In August, Clarke said Birmingham had deteriorated dramatically in the previous 18 months, with filthy conditions, staff locking themselves in offices and prisoners openly using drugs.

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Mark Potter

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