The UK’s largest and newest privately run jail, described by the justice secretary as a model for prisons, is condemned as unsafe, violent, with very poor offender management and health service.
An unannounced inspection of G4S-managed £200m Oakwood in the West Midlands also found hundreds of sex offenders due for release still in denial of their crimes with little appropriate intervention.The jail is not accredited to run sex offender treatment programmes.The prisons chief inspector Nick Hardwick warned “there were real risks if matters were allowed to drift.”His inspection also found high levels of assault and and criticised monitoring data as “unreliable”.He said the management of bullying and victimisation was weak.
HMP Oakwood opened in April 2012 to hold 1,600 prisoners with plans to develop into a “super-size”prison with a capacity for 2,000.
Since then there’ve been a series of criticisms from serious design faults to poor health care.
In the summer it was classified as one of the three worst performing jails in England and Wales.
Today’s inspectorate report provides the evidence.
They estimated close to 20 per cent of prisoners had access to drugs with around half refusing to be tested.
Illicit drugs included Black Mamba, heroin and subutex and there was “strong evidence” prisoners were injecting diverted prescribed drugs such as insulin and steroids.
One in seven develop drug habit
One in seven prisoners said they had developed a drug problem while at the prison.
Jerry Petherick, managing diector of G4S Custodial and Detention Services, 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.”
Labour’s shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan MP described the report as shocking. He said there’s a strong suspicion that Oakwood was rushes into service against the advice of officials, putting safety at risk.