Caven blog

Prison officers to sue private security firm

The Prison Officers Association (POA) has gone to the High Court to ask for a judicial review in order to prevent the private security firm, G4S, from bidding for the control of four prisons in England.

G4S already runs four prisons in the UK and they are currently in the race, along with the state’s Prison Service, to run the Birmingham, Doncaster, Featherstone, and Buckley Hall prisons.

The POA’s objections to the G4S bid are based on the fact that the previous chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms) now works as a consultant for G4S. POA argue that the presence of Phil Wheatley at G4S gives them an unfair advantage in the bidding process.

The POA have also indicated that they may go on a nation-wide strike if G4S are allowed to stay in the race.

POA’s national chairman has said that the process does not allow the state sector to operate on a “level playing field”. He also thinks that senior civil servants should not be allowed to work for the private sector in firms that directly compete with their previous departments.

Wheatley was critical of privately run prisons when he was the head of Noms. He said that private security firms had “brought little innovation to the management of custody”. He added that the only gains from their involvement have come from “using fewer staff, paying lower wages, and providing less employment protection for staff.”

POA’s lawyers want G4S to be excluded from the tendering process.

However, G4S said that Wheatley “has not been involved in any part of the tendering process for the current round of prison bids in the UK.”

G4S currently employs 600,000 people around the world and operates within 110 countries. Wheatley was hired by the firm in order to give their care and justice division “strategic advice around the development of its global offering.”

POA has reported that the government is currently training soldiers in prison management should a national strike of prison officers go ahead.

Related Links:

Read more on the story (Guardian)
Learn more about judicial review (FindLaw)
Read about industrial action (FindLaw)
Find local employment solicitors in your area (Caven)

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