HMP Birmingham: Funding dispute stopped CCTV installation
A troubled jail has been making "steady progress" under new leadership but CCTV "promised for years" has still not been installed, inspectors have said.
HMP Birmingham used to be run by security firm G4S but was taken back into government control this year.
CCTV has never been fitted on wings because both G4S and the Prison Service felt the other should fund it, the Independent Monitoring Board said.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said CCTV would be installed within six weeks.
G4S took on the running of the category B prison, which houses just under 1,000 inmates, in 2011.
It lost the contract in April after the chief inspector of prisons described the jail last year as the worst he had ever been to, two years after a huge riot.
A new governor was appointed and the board's latest annual report published on Thursday said a "reduced prison population and the much-needed capital investment" since had enabled the prison to start making improvements.
Highlighting the lack of CCTV cameras for so many years, the report said "given the prison had the highest level of staff assaults and prisoner violence in previous years in England and Wales, the failure of the two parties to settle the funding of CCTV deserves criticism".
The delay in installing a body scanner in reception, promised last year, was also criticised.
The jail's failure to secure funding for the scanner was "inexplicable", the chief inspector of prisons said earlier this year.
The MoJ said it would now be fully operational in the new year.
However, 14 mobile phones, 133g of tobacco and 14g of cannabis hidden in two pairs of trainers were among items found on visitors by new dedicated search teams over the past year, the report added.Other findings by the IMB:
- Senior leaders have become more visible on wings at key times
- Senior leaders are held to account and challenged daily in meetings
- There has been a clear daily focus on the most vulnerable, especially those who self-harm and self-isolate
- Incidents of self-harm have fluctuated with no clear trend up or down
- The closure of three Victorian wings was overdue and welcome
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A drop in violence and self-harm had also now made the prison one of the best performing compared with jails of a similar category and population, monitors said.
Conditions had also improved and it was now "unusual" to find men in "uninhabitable" cells with leaking pipework or toilets, the report said.
Roger Swindells, chair of the board said: "Looking ahead, there are clear, encouraging signs of further progress and evidence that HMP Birmingham is working hard to become a more decent and respectful place for all who live and work there, with the intention of ensuring that prisoners are better prepared for release."
The MoJ said violence was down by two-thirds this year and it welcomed the fact the "tireless" work by staff was being recognised.
"The prison will benefit from our £100m investment in new security measures like body scanners, part of an additional £2.75bn that will be spent on our jails," it said.
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