Urgent Question on HMP Birmingham
I spoke in the House of Commons in response to an urgent question on HMP Birmingham after the UK Government announced it would be taking over the prison from G4S, under the management of which the prison had deteriorated to the point of being branded “the worst prison in Britain”. I urged the Minister for Justice to look to Scotland, where prisons are benefiting from extra staffing and changes to address overcrowding, instead of being crippled by cuts to the justice system. It is clear that prisons in England and Wales are suffering from excessive budget pressures, inconsistent policy and a lack of direction. While prison staffing levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have fallen by around a third since 2010, in Scotland they have increased by 14%. Overcrowding has been addressed by the Scottish Government’s successful presumption against short-term custodial sentences, which was increased to twelve months in the Scottish Government’s programme for government. The SNP Scottish Government have also minimised cuts to our justice system, resulting in a 43-year crime low.