Britain’s biggest prison has been criticised by inspectors in another blow to its private operator G4S. HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton, which can hold 1,600 inmates, had inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm, HM Inspectorate of Prisons said following a surprise visit.
In addition, the jail – dubbed “Jokewood” – urgently needed to address its approach to its near-300 sex offenders, many of whom were due for release without their offending having been addressed. The inspection found many prisoners felt unsafe and there was evidence of drug and alcohol use.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This private prison has been open for a year-and-a-half and it is getting worse, not better.” Jerry Petherick, managing director for G4S Custodial and Detention Services, said: “We have already taken steps to make improvements, appointing a dedicated taskforce to address problem areas, such as the prevalence of drugs, while providing additional funding where necessary.”
G4S was recently referred to the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging the Government for tagging criminals and was criticised last year for botching the Olympics security contract.