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Outsourcing The first women's prison in years to be declared unsafe is run by a private firm

A PRIVATE prison has become the first women’s jail in years to be declared unsafe.

In a damning report published today, HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that safety at HMP Peterborough was “not sufficiently good.”

Inmates felt intimidated by verbal bullying and anti-social behaviour, inspectors found. There was too much use of force and strip searches.

Safety was classified “reasonably good” at the previous inspection in 2014, but matters had gotten worse when inspectors returned in September.

HMP Peterborough is run by outsourcing giant Sodexo. It is the only prison in England and Wales to hold men and women on the same site.

There have been increasing numbers of violent incidents as the number of prison guards has been cut. So far the focus has been on men’s prisons.

Inspectors raised concerns that instability on the male side was affecting Peterborough’s ability to focus sufficiently on the relatively more settled female prison.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said his team’s safety verdict was “far more negative” than before.

“We were particularly concerned about safety and this is the first women’s prison in several years to have been assessed as ‘not sufficiently good’ in this area,” he said.

Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon MP said: “Inspectors have raised serious concerns so we need the government to give us assurances that profit is not being put before women prisoners’ safety.”

HM Prison & Probation Service chief executive Michael Spurr insisted Sodexo has responded “swiftly and positively” to the inspection report.

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