Prisons in Parliament

Fire fire! Highest number of fire-related incidents at privately owned prisons

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Serco owned HMP Thameside had the most fires in 2016. Image: Serco

Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here.

Fire-related incidents

How many fire related incidents have there been in the last 12 months? Asked Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP. 

There were 2580 incidents in 2016. The four prisons with the highest number of fires, HMP Doncaster, Nottingham, Birmingham and Thameside, are all privately owned. With 75, 78, 82 and 101 incidents respectively.

This includes accidental fires, not just arson, said Justice Minister Sam Gyimah. “Although the Fire Service routinely attend fire incidents in prisons, the majority are relatively minor in their nature.”

Redevelopment of the prison estate

Peter Bone, Conservative MP, asked what the government’s plans are for the closure of old prisons and the building of new ones.

“We will close down ageing and ineffective prisons, replacing them with buildings fit for today’s demands” said Justice Minister, Sam Gyimah.

HMP Wellingborough and HMP Glen Parva have been ear marked for redevelopment and will form part of the 10,000 prison places to be built, “on a new for old basis” said the Justice Minister.

What lessons learnt for HMP Northumberland?

What lessons will be learnt from BBC Panorama’s programme on HMP Northumberland? Asked Lord Birch, Crossbench peer.

The BBC’s Panorama programme, broadcast in February this year, revealed a catalogue of failings at the privately owned HMP Northumberland. Including widespread drug use, a lack of control, door alarms that did not go off in one block and a hole in an internal security fence.

“These are extremely serious allegations which are being urgently investigated by both Sodexo and the National Offender Management Service” said Lord Keen of Elie. Adding, “we have robust processes in place to closely monitor and manage private contractors and will not hesitate to take action when standards fall short.”

The full Panorama programme can be watched here. 

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