Private prison providers fined £3.7m for contract breaches since 2010

Figures ‘low,’ gov claims, but campaigners highlight increase in violence

private companies receive financial penalties for contract failures.

Fined: private companies receive financial penalties for contract failures. Photograph: x1klima


Private prison providers have been fined £3.7m for 224 contract breaches since 2010, the government has confirmed.

Imposing penalties incentivises private companies to support properly the rehabilitation of offenders, justice minister Andrew Selous said.

He disclosed the figures in response to a parliamentary question this week (4 April) from shadow justice minister Jo Stevens.

Mr Selous painted the figures in a positive light, claiming the number fines was relatively low:

“Privately managed prisons achieve the majority of their contractual targets with proportionately low levels of performance points and financial penalties applied as a result.”

Reasons for fines include “failure to comply” with “procedures” and “regimes,” as well as “incidents”.

Peter Dawson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said it is “difficult to draw firm conclusions” about whether the figures are indeed low, since comparable figures for the public sector are unavailable.

The fines have dropped in recent years, from £1.2m in 2013/14, to £865k in 2014/15 and £458k in 2015/16. But Mr Dawson warned of a parallel increase in violence and time spent in cells.

“Recent declines in penalties contrast sharply with rising incidents of violence, concerted indiscipline and time spent in cells in the prison system as a whole,” said Mr Dawson.

Death, suicide and violence in prison have all increased since 2010, the Ministry of Justice’s own statistics on safety in custody confirm. In 2010, 2.3 deaths, 0.7 suicides and 171 serious assaults per 1,000 prisoners. In 2015, 3.0 deaths, 1.0 suicides and 220 serious assaults

G4S, which runs five prison or young offender institutions in England and Wales, was approached for comment as a representative of such private contractors, but had not responded at time of publication. Sources in the sector say these fines are an example of contracts working well.

Mr Dawson pointed out that questions over transparency and scrutiny will be raised when the government implements planned measures to increase the autonomy of prison governors.

He told PWUK: “These figures show the consequences to private prisons of failing to meet their targets. The introduction of new autonomous prisons in the public sector raises interesting questions about whether their governors will face the same kind of scrutiny.”

Get the private prison fines data

A breakdown of the penalties imposed on private prison contractors:

Prisons/YOIs
2010/11 Number Value
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with procedures 12 £196,155
Total Financial Remedies due to Incidents 7 £94,584
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with Regimes 2 £50,699
2011/12 Number Value
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with procedures 8 £151,283.29
Total Financial Remedies due to Incidents 5 £41,576.41
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with Regimes 2 £18,606.30
2012/13 Number Value
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with procedures 22 £381,898.58
Total Financial Remedies due to Incidents 9 £69,642.26
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with Regimes 12 £206,061.77
2013/14 Number Value
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with procedures 32 £900,089
Total Financial Remedies due to Incidents 16 £95,825
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with Regimes 22 £243,502
2014/15 Number Value
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with procedures 24 £582,484
Total Financial Remedies due to Incidents 16 £150,589
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with Regimes 11 £131,534
2015/16 Number Value
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with procedures 10 £323,447
Total Financial Remedies due to Incidents 6 £39,449
Total Financial Remedies due to Failure to comply with Regimes 8 £94,865

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