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Gov plans more HMP Birmingham style ‘mega-prisons’

PICTURED: A general view of HMP Birmingham

FOLLOWING THE news that G4S-run prison HMP Birmingham is to be taken back under state control, a new report from Corporate Watch reveals details of government plans to build a series of mega-prisons across the UK, part of the £1.3 billion Prison Estates Transformation Programme.

Three mega-prisons designed to lock up over 1000 prisoners each have planning permission in East Yorkshire, Wellingborough and Leicestershire according to the report, and construction will begin in 2019.

One of the prisons, HMP Glen Parva is being built using a private finance deal. The government has not said if the new prisons will be publicly or privately run.

As well as revealing the companies profiting from the prison expansion programme the report also highlights the role of private companies in the UK’s prison system, explaining that:

• A greater percentage of prisoners are locked up in private prisons in the UK than in any other country in Europe, or even in the United States;

• There are 14 private prisons in the UK, which hold just under one-fifth of all UK prisoners. These are run by just three companies: G4S Justice Services, Sodexo Justice Services and Serco Custodial Services;

• Private prisons account for a higher proportion of fighting, sexual assaults, drug-taking, self- harming, hunger strikes, and prisoner escapes than public sector prisons.

The Welsh Government effectively rejected the Ministry of Justice’s attempts to build a mega-prison in Port Talbot after huge community resistance to the plans. New mega-prisons in Greater Manchester and Kent have also been delayed for at least five years due to prisoner overcrowding. Plans for five ‘community prisons’ for women were also abandoned in June.

Corporate Watch researcher Rose Black says: “As our research shows, if you build it – they will come. New prisons, private of public, do not stop overcrowding or improve conditions in prisons. They simply generate more overcrowding and create more problems”

Rather than calling for public instead of private prisons, the report supports an abolitionist position, arguing that we should move towards a society where incarceration is a thing of the past.

The report also details how the current prison system does little to prevent harm, but creates profits for private companies and allows the state to avoid dealing with social problems created by inequality and exploitation.

The report is available for purchase or can be downloaded for free at

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