Inspectors slam HMP Oakwood

The biggest prison in the country, HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton, has been slammed by inspectors in another blow to its private operator G4S.

G4S: 'More Oakwood improvements in coming months'

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.

...As the experience of staff develops, the regime becomes fully embedded and our reporting systems continue to improve, the months ahead will see significant further improvements in performance.

– Jerry Petherick, Managing Director for G4S Custodial and Detention Services

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HMP Oakwood 'is getting worse, not better'

It is well-known in prison circles that this institution is referred to as 'Jokewood' by prisoners and staff across the system, but this isn't a joke - it is deeply serious.

This private prison has been open for 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.

– Frances Crook, chief executive, Howard League for Penal Reform

Inspectors find evidence of drug use at HMP Oakwood

The inspection of HMP Oakwood by HMI Prisons found a number of concerns with the prison for category C inmates.

The inspection found too many prisoners felt unsafe and there was clear evidence of drug and alcohol use.

Prisoners were unable to access basic facilities, such as cleaning materials and kit, the report said, while staff-prisoner relationships were not respectful.

Healthcare provision was "very poor", inspectors said, which resulted in the Care Quality Commission hitting the healthcare provider with a regulatory enforcement notice, it added.

HMP Oakwood: 'Steps taken to make improvements'

G4S says increased funding and task-forces are yielding results at HMP Oakwood
G4S says increased funding and task-forces are yielding results at HMP Oakwood Credit: David Jones/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Jerry Petherick, managing director for G4S Custodial and Detention Services, said: "The mobilisation of any prison is a complex and challenging operation but the size and scale of Oakwood - the largest prison in the country - made this even more acute.

"As well as the logistical hurdles in new establishments, prisoners test the regime as well as the members of staff, who may be new to prison life.

"We have already taken steps to make improvements, appointing a dedicated task-force to address problem areas, such as the prevalence of drugs, while providing additional funding where necessary. This is starting to yield results."

Oakwood prison report 'raises huge questions'

This is a shocking inspection report of this G4S run prison. It raises huge questions whether Oakwood prison should have been allowed to open and take prisoners when it did. There is a strong suspicion that Oakwood prison was rushed into service against the advice of officials and experts, putting safety at risk.

– Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary

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HMP Oakwood slammed by prison inspectors

HMP Oakwood had "inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm"
HMP Oakwood had "inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm" Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The biggest prison in the country, HMP Oakwood, has been slammed by inspectors.

HMP Oakwood, which can hold 1,600 prisoners, had inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm, said HM Inspectorate of Prisons following a surprise visit.

The report found that the prison, known as "Jokewood", needs to address its approach to the near-300 sex offenders it holds, many of whom were due for release without their offending having been addressed.

G4S, which runs the prison, says it has already taken steps to make improvements.