THE firm at the centre of the Olympics security shambles recently lost its contract to run a jail in Yorkshire and failed to win any further prison contracts it was bidding for, the Ministry of Justice has said.
G4S, which failed to provide enough guards for the London 2012 games, will stop running the Wolds prison in East Yorkshire and it will return to the public sector from next year.
The Wolds prison, a category C training prison holding up to 395 men, has been run by G4S since it opened in 1992.
But it will return to the public sector at the end of the current contract in July 2013, the MoJ said.
G4S shares were down 5% after the announcement.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the Government’s decision to hand over prisons to the private sector was “a mistake of Olympic proportions”.
She also called for details of how the bidding process is being decided to be made public.
“The Government will seek to deflect criticism of its prison privatisation programme by excluding G4S from the next stage of the bidding process, but the principle of awarding lucrative contracts to private companies running prisons on the cheap remains unchallenged,” Ms Crook said.
“Something as important as taking away someone’s freedom should only be done by the state, answerable to taxpayers, rather than by international private security firms, answerable only to their shareholders.”
She went on: “Running prisons for profit also means these multinationals cash in on others’ misery, making more money out of increased levels of crime and a greater number of people being held in overcrowded cells.
“Private firms are often much better at winning contracts than delivering the goods, but the criteria for these decisions have not been made public.
“This is concerning, as the Department for Transport’s bungling of the West Coast Main Line contract only came to light after Virgin Trains took legal action.”
Ms Crook added: “I am writing to the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms) to request the details of how the bidding process is being decided.”
Any further prison sell-offs should be stopped and an independent review is urgently required, the Public and Commercial Services union said.
Mark Serwotka, its general secretary, said: “The privatisation of our prison service ought to be a national scandal and that this has happened without any public debate is shameful.
“It is morally reprehensible that companies are profiting from locking people up and we urgently need an independent review to look at the impact on our communities, staff and prisoners.”
I had never considered this angle before, and whilst I fully accept and understand that G4S (other private companies are also available) are not responsible for the decision-making process as to whether an individual is incarcerated or not, the moral question as to whether it is right to make huge profits out of peoples’ deprivation of liberty is, I think, a valid one. I was rather sad to note that their profits had fallen by 5% as a result of losing this contract though, not.