HMP Birmingham – a need to learn from decline is required alongside work to rescue jail from violence and chaos

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons has renewed his call for an independent assessment as to how HMP Birmingham, one of Britain’s biggest jails, descended into appalling, chaotic conditions in just 18 months.

Publishing his full report on the inspection of the prison, Peter Clarke said he hoped the importance of understanding the deterioration and learning from it to prevent a repetition elsewhere was not overlooked in the urgent work to improve conditions.

The state of the prison, run at the time by the private contractor G4S, so troubled Mr Clarke that he invoked the rarely used Urgent Notification (UN) Protocol publicly to demand action from the Secretary of State for Justice. Within days the prison was taken back into public control for the first time since 2011.

Mr Clarke recalled that in his UN letter to David Gauke he had made clear that factors in his decision were his “lack of confidence in the prison to make improvements” and “the inertia that seemed to have gripped those responsible for monitoring and managing the contracts and those meant to be delivering action on the ground.”

Read the full press release and report.