Some Things, Like Prisons, Should Not Be Run for Profit

Some Things, Like Prisons, Should Not Be Run for Profit

HMP Birmingham is a prime example of a government privatising a piece of infrastructure, and the effects of profit and greed biting hard.

G4S, a company with a chequered recent history of making a show of themselves, took over the running of HMP Birmingham, or Winson Green to the rest of us, in 2011.

In recent years, there have been riots, rife drug use, bullying, and the undeniable reality that it is in fact the prisoners that run the jail.

Frankly at best, the situation is gravelly embarrasing for the Prisons Service. For G4S, there should now be a marker against them for whenever they tender for new business, be it Government work or private work – like a personal credit file – that says “look at the mockery they made at HMP Birmingham”.

That marker should be attached to G4S for at a minimum 7 years.

There is a fine balance to be struck here. Private initiatives are broadly a good idea, save for the railways, which is another story entirely.

A company tendering for a government contract is far more likely to put far more money and effort in, if the commercial risks of failure are fatal. A company failing on a government contract should be black-listed.

They should be treated like you and me if we default on a loan or credit card payment, or fall into mortgage arrears. House taken off you, and no one lends to you for a decade.

That’ll teach them.