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Labour's Richard Burgon calls for an end to privatisation in the prison system

LABOUR called today for an end to outsourcing and privatisation in the prison system following an Ofsted report raising concerns over care at a youth offenders centre.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon raised the issue of G4S-managed Oakhill Secure Training Centre (STC) in the Commons as he called for a halt to private contracts.

He said: “The last inspection report at Oakhill said that there is no evidence that the 80 children held there are adequately cared for.

“The contract for Oakhill STC is between the justice secretary and ST Milton Keynes Limited of which G4S is their operating sub-contractor.

“We therefore do not have information on the proportion of contractual obligations that G4S has met.”

Mr Burgon also raised concerns about staffing levels and conditions at private probation companies.

“None of the community rehabilitation company (CRC) contracts specify that CRCs must maintain staffing numbers at a particular level,” he said.

“When the minister bailed out the private probation companies last year with another £342 million, they didn’t bother to make staffing levels a contractual obligation.”

Ministers were told to “cut their losses” and accept that the part-privatisation of the probation service and prisons had been a disaster.

Joe Simpson, deputy general secretary of prison officers’ union POA, told the Star that it supported Labour’s call.

“If the government invested in prisons instead of giving it to outside companies, we would see a better system,” he said.

“Privatisation is not the answer. We’ve never seen any proof that privatisation of the prison system has increased rehabilitation.”

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