The first annual report into HMP Birmingham since it was privatised says the transitional period has been a difficult one and key issues include catering for the growing number of sex offenders.
The prison was taken over by G4S in October 2011, the first to be purchased by a private company in the UK.
Amongst the concerns that need to be addressed which were 'flagged up' by the IMB (Independent Monitoring Board) are:
- A need to cater for the growing number of sex offenders
- A complete absence of equality/diversity training
- Vermin in the kitchens, and equipment prone to breaking down
- A lack of access to learning and skills for offenders
- Prison hospital beds are considered not fit for purpose, an issue ongoing since 2008
The IMB has strongly recommended that urgent consideration be given to extra places in other establishments better equipped to deal with the increasing number of sex offenders entering the prison.
The report says the growing number of sex offenders is due to a number of reasons including; 'the resolution of historical sex offence cases, growth of internet pornography and an increase in the number of cases of rape being prosecuted'.
An extract from the report on this issue:
HMP Birmingham is a local prison experiencing difficulty in arranging with the Prison Service for transferring these prisoners to establishments with appropriate programmes to address their offending behaviour and freeing up spaces on the designated Wing for Sex Offenders as they arrive from Court.
Another major area of concern was the standard of equipment and hygiene in the prison kitchens.
– Report extract
The Board has been very concerned at the lack of consistent activity to eradicate the problem of vermin, including rats, mice and cockroaches, most noticeably in the Kitchen and serveries, but also in offices and on the Wings.
The report also flagged up issues raised last year that are still ongoing such as; the number of category D prisoners being held at HMP Birmingham. Currently there are 37, which is an improvement on the 60 that were held there last June.
However the report said HMP Birmingham is an 'inappropriate environment to hold such prisoners'.
Category D offenders are those deemed trusted not to escape and so suited to 'open prisons'. Birmingham is a category B establishment.
There were improvements noted in the report including improved facilities to cater for elderly prisoners with the opening of a specialised wing. While the quality of educational courses were praised it was found that resources could not stretch to the number of prisoners.
Fitness facilities were also praised in the report.