Estimated £1  Million Spent Replacing Every Lock At HMP Birmingham

A prison officer has been arrested on suspicion of stealing master keys for  HMP Birmingham in protest at its privatisation.

HMP Birmingham in Winson Green

Inmates at the 1,450 capacity Winson Green prison were placed on  lockdown for almost 24 hours after the keys, including one to open every cell  door, went missing last October.

Security firm G4S, which took over the running of the jail the same month,  was forced to replace all the locks at an estimated cost of up to £1  million.

Sources at the Victorian jail, the first in the country to be privatised,  said a  prison officer had stolen the keys to highlight grievances with the new regime.
An insider said the prison officer was trying to make a point because he  wasn’t happy about his contract terms under the new management.”

A West Midlands Police spokesman confirmed: “A man, aged in his 30s, was  arrested in December in relation to an investigation into missing keys at Winson  Green.

“The investigation into this incident is ongoing.”

A spokesman for G4S said: “We can confirm a member of staff is helping police  with their enquiries but, as the matter is subject to an ongoing police  investigation, we cannot comment further”.

Jerry Petherick, the company’s chief of custodial services, said: “It is not  an isolated thing in the prison service for keys to go missing but, because  Birmingham was transferred to G4S, it raised the profile of the incident.

“Prison operations continued as normal while a replacement system was put in  place and there was never any danger to the general public.”

Details of the arrest emerged after the publication this month of the final  annual report from the Independent Monitoring Board for the prison described  staff morale as “palpably low” during the privatisation process.

The report recommended that similar processes should be shortened and “lessons learned from HMP Birmingham’s experience”.

The decision to hand the running of the prison to G4S was condemned as “politically-driven” and “morally repulsive” by the Prison Officers’ Association  when the details emerged last March.

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