The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Teething Challenges of the Titans

Putting people in prison is as much a favourite activity with Britain's Head Boy and his chums as it was with New Labour; and it is encouraging to note that the New Labour meaning of "flagship policy" (viz. an even bigger cock-up than usual) remains essentially unchanged under the present régime. Those nice people at G4S have again been a tremendous help, running the Oakwood titan prison in such Olympic style that it's easier to obtain illegal drugs than it is to find a bar of soap, and the staff are trained and supported with so much fiscal conservatism that the place virtually runs itself. The chief inspector of prisons made an unannounced visit in the summer and found high levels of drug use, assault, victimisation and bullying, with use of force to restrain inmates at twice the level of similar palaces of correction. The reception process was found to be ATOS-like in its rigour: "One prisoner had been noted in his secondary screening on arrival as having 'no disabilities'. In reality, he was unable to walk without a Zimmer frame and was partially sighted and deaf." Perhaps worst of all, despite the best efforts of the Minister for Incarceration and Heterosexual Hostelry, Chris Graybeing, the forty-hour working week for inmates has not been properly introduced; which may well mean that the prison system could rival the workfare programme as an efficient source of taxpayer-funded forced labour. Of course, lessons are being learned even as I write, and no doubt it will all be sorted out once the inspectorate of prisons has also been made the responsibility of those nice people at G4S.


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